Monday, October 11, 2010

The stories we miss

The world news has been filled with stories about the tragic oil leak off the coast of America for over six months now, but large oil spills are old news in the Niger Delta. When I stumbled across this article back in June I was once again reminded of the lesson I've learnt almost every day of my degree....

There are stories all around the world that we never hear about. Stories, tragedies and realities that never make it to the news. When they miraculously do, they appear as a 100-word corner of the World Section, hidden at the back of our newspaper. And unless they have picture quality , they'll certainly never make it to our television screens.

Why are some events newsworthy and others not?

In this case, the same type of event has been happening in a developing nation for years on end with no recognition. And yet the spill off America's coast has had the media machine working overtime since the moment it happened. There is no doubt the spill in the Gulf is serious. It is a colossal environmental disaster. It is a window into the corruption and greed of the rich oil companies. And yet we haven't been at all concerned about the fact that thousands of Nigerians haven't had clean waterways and food sources for years.

The massive amount of wealth underneath the ground in Nigeria is not visible to a large majority of the nation and extreme inequality persists. There is corruption and greed rife in Nigeria at all levels of government and society. Western countries and companies continue to extract resources from this nation with little thought about the injustice and poverty it creates.

Change is desperately needed, in the way Nigerians treat each other and in the way the rest of the world treats Nigeria (and any other developing countries like it). If we ignore these stories, I believe we risk legitimising the corruption and greed of transnational corporations and the wealthy few of the world - which includes you and me. If we ignore the stories, what does it say about our capacity to really tackle injustice and poverty? I think King said it best....
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Martin Luther King Jr.

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