shell for Shell

Sitting still never changes anything or so I’ve learnt.
You have to keep moving. Bitch, yes, sometimes its necessary to get things off your chest. But keep moving like there’s nothing in your way. like you’re blind to hardship because in Nigeria, there is always hardship. if it isn’t in your home then it’s the eyes of water sellers, milling about. It’s in the eyes of your driver or the maids you maltreat. It’s in the streets and even when you travel to your foreign vacation spots, you will not escape it. You will remember women like Zemano and the government that has allowed things to get this terrible.

Untold Stories



The fishing boat cuts the silent water like a knife. Zemano and Grace are out looking for periwinkle shells. They left home at seven o’clock this morning hoping to fill a bucket or two with the small, black, cone-shaped shells.

−This is our only source of income, Grace tells us while she is paddling towards the shore where, in theory, the shells are to be found in the riverbank mud. So far the two women have been looking in vain. The mud where mangrove forest once grew used to be full of periwinkle, but after the major oil spills in 2008-2009 life in this part of the Niger delta is as good as extinguished.

−We used to fill our buckets in no time, and could earn a decent amount of money from selling the shells. These days we’re lucky if we get enough to feed our children. Zemano is seven…

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