Good Little Bee And Oil In Nigeria Research Paper Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Oil, People, Nigeria, Literature, Life, Environment, Community, Countries

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/12/21

Introduction

The discovery of natural resources is the beginning of a much needed reprieve for many governments, especially in the third world countries. This is because ideally, it occasions the beginning of a new era, an era of development that is spurred by the revenue from the exploitation of the natural resources. This is actually the case for very few countries. More precisely, battles over gold, silver, iron, coal, water, knowledge, gas, farming, diamonds and land have occurred over time; the end result being devastation for one country and wealth for the other. In this respect, natural resources have proven to be both a source of prosperity and affluence, as well as a cause of strife. The battle over oil in Nigeria continues to create conflict and devastation to unknowing civilians. The conflicts in countries where there are conflicts emanating from the exploitation of natural resources have inspired literature in different ways (Forest & Matthew 54). Scholars have authored books that highlight these conflicts in both subtle and overt ways. Chris Cleave uses this platform to explore some of the devastation that residents of the oil producing West African country of Nigeria. In his book Little Bee, Cleave provides readers with a personal story, which describes in detail, a young girl’s journey as she flees the homeland she lives in to get away from men that are hired by oil companies to execute all people in their village. Civilians who live in Nigeria are put at risk in a variety of ways. Pollution from the oil makes it difficult to fish or farm, taking away the means to live. The oil also creates an inability to locate clean drinking water, leading to dehydration, illness and even death. Innocent people are killed with impunity for trying to stand up and protect the human rights of those living in Nigeria, while some are losing their lives trying to extract oil. This paper argues that in today’s profit driven society, the targets of such devastation are at random depending on which country has the desired resource for extraction, in this case the oil located in Nigeria, the devastation that follows for the local communities and the survivors with the tragic images that are forever engraved in their minds. No individual on this Earth should ever feel so at risk that he or she has to flee for the remainder of his or her whole life. Countries or the earth is referred to in a feminine nature such as mother earth because of their ability to nurture. However, some countries are preceded by their reputation in this respect. It is awe-striking that Little Bee, a mere teenager has to change her complete name because she no longer feels safe. Little Bee (later revealed, Udo), one of the main protagonists, has to change both her name and Nkiruka’s (her older sister) name. Throughout the novel, it is seen how Udo must evade dangerous situations remain alive. Here, what Mr. Cleave must have been attempting to portray was the fact that the situation in Nigeria had gotten out of hand. The fact that people constantly have to run away from their homeland due to oil extractions is unacceptable. The majority of people living in Nigeria live in poverty, unhygienic living conditions, and are prone to ecological disasters and conflict; this is no way to live (Tregaskis). These are themes that are explored by many scholars. Mberu and Pongou argue that Nigerians in their thousands seek asylum and refuge every year in other countries. In addition to the scathing attacks, poverty also fuels most of this migration. Statistics show that despite the ample oil reserves, over 70% of people in Nigeria still live in poverty (2). According to Opukri & Ibaba (174), many people in the Niger Delta where there are many oil wells have been forced to free from their lands due to oil-induced conflicts. These are the themes that Cleve explores through the character of Little Bee. Throughout Little Bee, it is evident that many people do not “make it” simply because living in those conditions is not living at all. In the beginnings of the novel, Udo states that she witnessed the slaughter of her own family and everyone in her village simply due to the fact the oil companies required the land that Udo’s village was on. Instead of coming to a compromise like average individuals, the oil company workers took it upon themselves to kill a whole village. In addition to that, the novel also talks about the mannerisms through which her sister was tortured (raped) on a boat, cut up, and fed to dogs. This part of Little Bee may very well have been the most gruesome. The whole novel deals with a mortality theme. Despite the fact that some people may think that others would never go as far as to treat people inhumanely, many would be surprised. The events that were described in Little Bee are things that individuals are going through at this very moment, every day. The sad reality is that some people see no way out of their current situation so they look for suicide as an outlet. There are a set number of hangings in Little Bee, Cleave’s way of portraying that some people in those circumstances would rather die that have to continue going through their everyday pain. The main incentive as to why Cleave depicts these horrible images is so that individuals become more cognizant of what is really happening around the world. The conditions in which people lived as described by Cleve have also been highlighted by other authors. In his article, Saro Wiwa highlighted the demise of hundreds of people who were attacked by the Mobile Police Force for holding demonstrations to protest their unsanitary living conditions because of pollution by oil exploration companies. For instance, the people of Iko in Nigeria wrote to shell seeking redress and compensation for clean water, air and viable environment. This was in the wake of pollution of the environment due to the drilling efforts of the company. The gist of this communication was that the local people be allowed to look for their livelihood in a clean and viable environment. The concepts of corporate social responsibility when applied in this case would require Shell, even without being requested by the local community, to undertake measures to ensure that the local community livelihoods were not affected by their economic activities. Even though such measures had not been taken, the communication by the local community members expressing concern for the effect of the activities on their livelihood would have been sufficient to spur actionable change. However, the pleas of the community were not hearkened to, as Saro Wiwa (1) noted. When the local community decided to get proactive two years after their first communication through peaceful demonstrations, Shell opted to call the police in order to scuttle such demonstrations. When the community members persisted and held more demonstrations years later, the Mobile Police Force was called and in their wake, left over forty houses destroyed, and more than three hundred and fifty people rendered homeless after the attack. The tragedy is that the local people were forced to live in deplorable conditions, with disrupted livelihoods so that multinational organizations can benefit from the natural resources that ideally should benefit the local people. Additionally, efforts by the local community to see redress were met by death, and impunity. Little Bee speaks as a direct message for society to change. Mr. Cleave does a perfect job of showing how society is in need of some revitalization. Not only does Little Bee serve as an inspiring novel of a young girl who overcame adversity, but it also serves as an awareness raiser that individuals must stop the manners in which they are treating other people. In addition, the novel speaks volumes on how individuals should have more leniency in the way countries should treat people who seek asylum and how illegal immigrants should be dealt with. Immigration detention centers such as the ones talked about in the novel should cease to exist. Another factor that would without a doubt instigate major changes in society is awareness. Mr. Cleave did an exemplary job of this-now it is the people’s turn. Cleaves clamor for change is shared by other scholars. For several years, the issue of oil has been central to the political economy in Nigeria. On the one hand, oil is the most important natural resources in some areas, such as the Niger Delta. However, other issues have emanated in the same areas. For instance, environmental degradation in the Niger Delta has been linked to the exploration and extraction on oil in the region (Falola & Paddock 258). Firstly, the exploration of oil causes dereliction of land, especially when the land is not rehabilitated after the oil wells are closed after they are depleted. This problem is exacerbated by skewed policies of the national government and local and state governments that are havens of corruption. Through graft, the environmental policies that oil exploration companies should follow in order to avoid environmental degradation are not followed. This has not only affected these oil producing areas, but also other areas in the country. For instance, the north of the Nigeria is threatened by drought and desertification. The south East of Nigeria is also under constant threat of erosion. The problem of graft has impeded any meaningful efforts to address these problems. Consequently, they remain to be tackled, and a constant reminder of the environmental devastation in the country (Ewharieme & Cocodia 446). Much like Cleave in Little Bee, Ewharieme & Cocodia (446) also calls for change. However, he cautions that for such change to be sustainable, it should be informed by sincerity of purpose. Ewharieme & Cocodia (446) also calls for ecological governance in order to reverse the ills on the environment. The two authors paint two situations that are similar in many ways. Oil and the ills that are associated with its discovery and exploration are common in the two books. It is not surprising that the two authors call for change as a way of arresting the already deteriorated situation. The whole problem with the novel is that some people might deem Udo’s circumstances “far-fetched.” In actuality, however, denial will not contribute to the solution. The sole way to eliminate these controversies (i.e., oil extractions in Nigeria) is to opt for what has worked in the past: compromise. Compromise is the only thing that will allow for generations to come resolving conflicts. War, suffering, death, crying, and pain are never the answer. On that note, it is vital that superpowers such as the United States put in more of their efforts in solving real-world problems as opposed to undertaking actions that only benefit a specified group of people. This was the rampant situation in 1980s as highlighted in the article by Saro Wiwa (Project Underworld 1). Rather that striking dialogue with the local communities in order to achieve a compromise, Shell turned to impunity and used the Mobile Police Force to quash protests by the local communities. Cleave’s resolve for compromise would have been a model solution to the problems that the local communities were protesting in order to seek redress. Dialogue between the oil exploring companies and the local communities would have created a mechanism through which both the oil exploring companies and the local communities could benefit from the natural resource. The input of the superpowers is required. They are the mother countries of some of these multinationals, and the fact that they watch while their companies perpetrate social injustice in expatriate regions is not only out of character, but also fueling the social injustice in resource-rich third world countries. There are a variety of resources which have been exported from Nigeria of which the people inhabiting the area do not get to reap the benefits. As Cleve writes, “We never tasted tea in my village, even though they grow it in the east of my country, where the land rises up into the clouds and the trees grow long soft beards of moss from the wet air. There in the east, the plantations stretch up the green hillsides and vanish into the mist. The tea they grow, that vanishes too. I think all of it is exported. Myself I never tasted tea until I was exported with it” (128). These are the telling feelings of Little Bee when she reflects in the troubles she has experienced in her country. Despite the fact that tea is grown in her country, she alludes to never benefiting from this resource. This is the case with the expansive oil resources in the country. As Cleave further writes, “A countries future is found in its natural resources. It is my countries biggest export.” While tea has been a valuable export, oil has proven to be the country’s largest, most powerful export. Cleave notes “To be precise what they discovered was crude oil, which is the future before it has been refined. It is like a dream of the future, really, and like any dream it ends with a rude awakening”. (Cleave 180). Even with its expanse oil resources, it is hard to advance the argument that the common Nigerian has benefited from the foreign exchange earned from the export of the petroleum products. This is a theme close to the one argued by Cleave through the character of Little Bee. Owing to the exploitation of the oil resources, Nigeria is ranked third in Africa in terms of the size of the economy. At the break of the millennium, 98% of the country’s earnings were attributed to oil. Between 2005 and 2010, the gross domestic product of the country at purchasing power parity increased more than double fold. Even with these economic developments, the overall living standards and the human capital are still below par (Ikelegbe 172). The common citizens have not benefited from the proceeds of oil exports (Global Citizen 1). Consequently, 45% of the country’s population still lives in abject poverty. This is paradoxical, especially because of the diverse and expanse oil reserves. The problem of corruption at the national, state and local governments have ensured that 80% of the proceeds from the export of oil benefit a measly 1% of the population. Owing to corruption, the agricultural sector has undergone years of neglect. This is a sector that previously accounted for over 26.8% of the country’s gross domestic product and over employs over 66.6% of the country’s human capital. A country that can potentially its demand for food and also export surpluses has been left to rely on imported food items to feed the nation. This consumes a significant portion of the 20% foreign exchange that is not controlled by the 1% of the population (Global Citizen 1).Conclusion Cleave describes in detail, a young girl’s journey as she flees the homeland she lives in to get away from men that are hired by oil companies to execute all people in their village. Civilians who live in Nigeria are put at risk in a variety of ways. Pollution from the oil makes it difficult to fish or farm, taking away the means to live. The oil also creates an inability to locate clean drinking water, leading to dehydration, illness and even death. Innocent people are killed for trying to stand up and protect the human rights of those living in Nigeria, while some are losing their lives trying to extract oil. The themes explored by Cleave are vindicated by other scholars. The paper has explored literature on the manner in which the locals of countries rich in natural resources undergo suffering and poverty, through the manipulation of political installations in their own country by multinational organizations. Under the watch of their national, state and local governments, they are mistreated, displaced and killed by men hired by these multinational organizations. The extent of graft in Nigeria has enabled a small percentage of the population to benefit from large portions of revenue from oil exports while the rest of the population wallows in abject poverty. The desire for money has led to environmental neglect and even sectors of the economy that not only provide food nation, but also employment for a significant portion of the country’s human capital. In today’s profit driven society, the targets of such devastation are at random depending on which country has the desired resource for extraction, in this case the oil located in Nigeria, the devastation that follows for the local communities and the survivors with the tragic images that are forever engraved in their minds.

Works cited

Cleave, Chris. Little Bee. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009. Print.
Ewharieme, William and Cocodia, Jude. Corruption and environmental degradation in Nigeria and its Niger Delta, Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences, 3, 3 (2011):446-468.
Falola, Toyin and Paddock, Adam. Environment and economics in Nigeria. New York. Routledge. 2012. Print.
Forest, James, and Matthew Sousa. Oil and Terrorism in the New Gulf: Framing U.s. Energy and Security Policies for the Gulf of Guinea. Lanham [Md.: Lexington Books, a division of Rowman & Littlefield Pub, 2006. Print.
Global Citizen. Oil in Nigeria: A cure of Curse? 31 Aug. 2012. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.
Ikelegbe, Augustine. Oil, Environment and Resource Conflicts in Nigeria. , 2013. Print.
Mberu, Blessing and Pongou, Roland. Nigeria: Multiple Forms of Mobility in Africa's Demographic Giant. The online Journal of the Migration policy Institute. 30 Jun. 2010. Web. 16 Mar. 2015
Opukri, Chris and Ibaba, Samuel. Oil Induced Environmental Degradation And Internal Population Displacement In The Nigeria’s Niger Delta. Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa, 10, 1 (2008):173-194.
Project Underworld. The Life & Death of Ken Saro-Wiwa: a history of the struggle for justice in the Niger Delta, Web. 16 Mar. 2015
Tregaskis, Shiona. Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta. The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 10 Mar. 2010. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.

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