Sunday, 16 March 2014

Watch trailer: Brad Pitt movie on Ghana's Oil

Hollywood Superstar, Brad Pitt has pro­duced a non-fictional documentary exposing what he terms "greed and exploitation" of Ghana and Nigeria by Texas-based oil explo­ration companies.

The documentary, which was written and directed by Rachel Boynton, an international film­maker, takes viewers behind the scenes and gives them exclusive access to boardroom discussions as oil company officials show how much they are interested in making maximum profits from Ghana's newly discovered crude oil resources at the expense of Ghanaians.

The documentary titled, 'Big Men' shows the grand schemes inspired by Wall-Street investors to fleece Ghanaians.

The 99-minute documentary, which will be given a global exposure, would be released today in New York City at the IFC Center.

According to online movie review website,, the documentary, which is cur­rently receiving media raves, "follows the step-by- step process of how they (the multinational oil companies) conduct business after untapped oil fields are discovered off the coast of Ghana. It took Rachel Boynton seven years to painstakingly track these big players unawares to complete 'Big Men' which has been described as a thriller.

In an interview with movie reviewer, Dorri Olds on March 10,2014, Rahel Boynton stated, "The film is of a deep philosophical nature. It* s about greed and desperation and wanting to be big. That's what connects everybody in the movie. When I was asking the questions it got turned around on me at one point when I was asked, "Don't you want to be big?"

In the documentary, the CEO of a multination­al company (name withheld) was heard saying, "Developing nations can't get greedy" - he indicat­ed from the prospect of making billions out of their new crude oil production project off the coast of Ghana.

He explained why his company won a hugely  favorable deal with the government of Ghana around 2007.


The CEO justified why his company should see greater rewards than the industry standard, as they benefitted from the political administration at the time. The deal with Ghana was that the com­pany would keep a vast percentage of the oil rev­enue being drilled out of the Jubilee oil fields, 64 nautical miles off the coast of Ghana.

Over 70 percent of the total revenue is shared by the foreign companies. They justify the huge cut by arguing that they had taken all the risk.

"What did the Ghanaians know?" asked David D'Arcy, an internationally known film critic and art reviewer, writing for The National and Screen International online, The Art Newspaper, among others.

"Ghana (which we don't see by way of the landscape, as we do Nigeria) presents a sad dilem­ma...Now Ghanaians are watching as an Ameri­can company gets rich on its resources. Will Ghana become a mini-Nigeria, or will it prosper as a result? There's not much hope for any country that lacks the institutions to make prosperity possible."

The documentary also showed the difficulties faced by the company when the John Agyekum- led administration finished its term and the administration was taken over by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by the now late John Evans Atta Mills.

"The previous government (the NPP govern­ment) was nice to the oil company. Certain things will have to change," the former Minister of Ener­gy Dr. Joe Oteng Agyei was heard saying in the documentary.

Ghana is currently drilling about 100,000 bar­rels of crude oil off the Jubilee Fields and barely earns US$1 billion from its oil export annually.


Female banker defrauds Emir of Kano

By Jide Ajani

The princely amount of N46 million in the dormant bank account of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, was simply irresistible for the young female banker.

So the suspect, Amina Magaji, was prepared to risk everything to reactivate the account and convert part of the balance there in to her use. The account was said to have been opened  in 1967 but went dormant later. The suspect allegedly applied for a cheque book, got it and began to operate the account. By the time the bubble burst, she had, according to a source, withdrawn N17million from the account. Amina, alongside 12 other staffers of the old generation bank, is answering questions from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on the alleged fraud.

The suspect is allegedly married to a senior staff of  a broadcast organisation.

Amina, believed to be in her late 30s, allegedly began systematic withdrawal from the monarch’s account since 2011 before she ran out of luck when her boss discovered discrepancies in the Emir’s signature.
An EFCC source disclosed that the suspected fraudster requested for a cheque book purportedly on the order of Bayero which the bank obliged her, but, unknown to other bank officials, the cheque book remained in her custody.

She consequently used the cheque to make withdrawals from the monarch’s account.
Bank sources revealed that Amina within the last four years withdrew N17 million from the Emir’s account  before the scam blew open.

The EFCC source said the matter was reported to the anti graft agency for appropriate action, stressing that “consequent upon that, we invited and quizzed 12 staffers closely related to the account”.
An EFCC operative, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard on the condition of anonymity, revealed that “preliminary investigations indicate that many of them have case to answer as we are able to establish conspiracy and negligence on the part of those connected with the monitoring and control of the bank account in question”.

It was learnt that “the bank has raised the alleged stolen money through the 12 staffers quizzed by the EFCC and returned same to the Emir while the principal suspect has been fired as part of measures adopted by the bank to restore confidence.”.

In the meantime, the principal suspect is said to be cooling her feet in the EFCC custody pending the completion of investigation into the case.

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwajeren, confirmed the story; but refused to go any further.

-Vanguard News


26 years ago, her quest for answers brought her face to face with the dreaded goddess of the creeks of Nigeria’s riverine areas. Her voyage into the intangible world of myth ,belief, and fear of the super natural led to the creation of her fascinating 1987 documentary ‘Mammy Water’ and her book The Water Goddess in Igbo Cosmology’. In April, Sabine Jell-Bahlsen found herself back in the creeks of the Niger Delta where she marvels at the changes that have taken place since her memorable encounter with the goddess of the creeks even as she gives her take on the dazzling comparison between Nollywood’s AMAA awards and the Oscars:

‘In April 2013, I was honored by an invitation to Nigeria to attend both, the grand African Movi Academy Awards, AMAA ceremony and the Bayelsa Book and Craft Fair. Both were rewarding experiences in their own different ways. AMAA was just fantastic, taking the format of the American Oscars, but in its own distinctly unique way. For one, while the Oscar is a rather stiff male, the AMAA trophy is a dancing woman whose enlarged image was projected turning at times partially veiled in smoke in front of a full moon. The nominations came in different categories, four each for nomination of best short film, best documentary, fiction, screen plays, original story, actors, actresses, directors, Diaspora films, life time achievement awards and many more, all exclusively from the African continent. The nominations had previously been determined in Malawi, while the eventual awards covered artists from many different African countries, and the award ceremony itself took place in Nigeria, the home of Nollywood. AMAA was founded by the event’s executive director, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe in 2005. I was greatly impressed by the film clips, professional presentation, light show and live music and dance interludes, and enjoyed this outstanding event very much. I hope I’ll be able to see more of the nominated and awarded films, perhaps at the New York African Film Festival or on European TV.

The Bayelsa Book and Craft Fair took place in conjunction with AMAA, but was very different. I had been invited by this year’s event organizer, Mr. Onyeka Nwelue, a young film maker and author of The Abyssinian Boy. Mr. Nwelue has strong ties to Oguta and was very impressed with my anthropology research in that area resulting in my book, The Water Goddess in Igbo Cosmology; Ogbuide of Oguta Lake (Africa World Press, 2008). He had invited me to Yenogua for a public conversation with Ropo Ewenla, an author and intellectual cultural personality from Lagos. Unfortunately, many invitees including Mr. Ewenla did not show up at the event or canceled last minute, like Shoba De from India, due to security concerns over the location and venue: Bayelsa as well as Port Harcourt, location of the nearest airport, have unfortunately lately become known for kidnappings of not only foreigners, but also wealthy or well-known Nigerians. In view of these last minute cancellations the book fair program turned out rather chaotic. Half of the panels including mine did not take place, neither did scheduled film screenings. Despite disappointment about the absence of those who didn’t make it and the resulting program disruptions, there were readings from Achebe’s latest book–always an asset. I read from the chapter on the role of “the Intellectuals in Biafra” about Kurt Vonneguth’s agony after his visit and about my own late mentor, Stanley Diamond who later published “Who Killed Biafra?” in the New York Review of Books, reprinted in Dialectical Anthropology 2007.

The Bayelsa Book and Craft Fair was very rewarding for me personally: There were admittedly some hick-ups, but I met wonderful young artists, actors and authors whose books I am reading now and with whom I keep contact. A breakfast conversation with Gabriel Okara was also a real highlight for me, since I’ve been carrying some questions about The Voice in my heart for years and cherished the opportunity to finally meet and discuss with Mr. Okara in person. What a wonderful experience! Another highlight was the Prof. Alagoa Library. We were invited to a wonderful lunch in their garden under very heavy security–I have never been in a space with so many armed men and women! Several authors including myself donated their books. The library was established with the aid of an NGO, the Community Defence Law Foundation, whose goal is to bring books to rural Nigeria, and who can assist with shipping costs for donations. Very impressive, as were the Art and Craft presentations in the Ijaw Center. The whole Bayelsa Book & Craft Fair event was an excellent networking opportunity. The positives by far outweighed whatever little mishaps there were. Yenogua is not an easy location, but people from the cities need to see that all is not as rosy and easy everywhere as they are used to. Everything went fairly smoothly though, and most importantly, nothing bad happened. As far as I know despite some glitches everybody reached their homes safely.

Last not least, I want to thank the Bayelsa Tourist Board for their hospitality. Bayelsa has a lot to offer: I remember traveling the delta creeks to Nembe in a speed boat during my Mammy Water documentary film production in 1987 and 1989; how serenely beautiful these creeks were, and how beautiful the music and performances of the local people were! The Niger Delta could be such an interesting sight for tourists and naturalists. The craft fair offered a glimpse, and the Manatee poster on the Tourist office wall was a nostalgic reminder. The area’s current oil production is a known disaster–environmentally as well as economically, politically and socially for the suffering and resisting local population. I am very sorry for the current situation of so much insecurity and destruction. Hoping for a better future.

Sabine Jell-Bahlsen
Germany and Brooklyn, NY.

Saudi Arabia Bans Blasphemous and Inappropriate Baby Names Alice, Sandy and Elaine

Saudi Arabia's interior ministry has banned 50 given names that "contradict the culture or religion of the kingdom" or are" foreign" and "inappropriate".
According to the list of forbidden names, Saudis will no longer be able to call their children Linda, Alice, Malaak (angel) or Basmala (utterance of the name of God), to name just a few.

The ministry justified the ban by saying that the names offend perceived religious sensibilities, are affiliated to royalty and some are of non-Arabic or non-Islamic origin.

Binyamin is believed in Islam to be the son of Prophet Jacob (Yaqoub) (PBUH) and the full brother of Prophet Joseph (PBUH), but it also happens to be the name of the Israeli prime minister.

Names such as Abdul Nabi and Abdul Hussain, common among Shiites and some Sunni Arabs, are controversial because of the multiple ways in which they can be interpreted. Abdul in Arabic means "worshipper of" or "slave of", while Nabi means "prophet" and Rasool means "messenger". Those who oppose such names argue that Abdul means "worshipper of' and is therefore forbidden as only God can be worshipped, Gulf News reported.

Another set of names that is banned includes those with royal connotations, especially titles such as Sumuw (highness), Malek (king) and Malika (Queen) and other royal terms such as Al Mamlaka (the kingdom).

A number of other names appear that do not necessarily fit into any category and it is therefore unclear as to why they would have been banned, Gulf News reported.

Saudi Arabia is not new to extreme bans: Saudi women are forbidden to drive, to go to the gym and to travel alone without authorisation signed by a male guardian.

Freedom of religion, cinemas and music schools and the celebration of Valentine's Day are also forbidden.


Malaak (angel)

Abdul Aati

Abdul Naser

Abdul Musleh

Nabi (prophet)

Nabiyya (female prophet)

Amir (prince)

Sumuw (highness)

Al Mamlaka (the kingdom)

Malika (queen)

Mamlaka (kingdom)

Tabarak (blessed)





Basmala (utterance of the name of God)







Rama (Hindu god)








Binyamin (Arabic for Benjamin)







Abdul Nabi

Abdul Rasool

Jibreel (angel Gabriel)

Abdul Mu'een