Oil on Water

by Helon Habila

Rufus, just out of journalism school and wet behind the ears, joins his drunken mentor, Zaq, in a grim quest to find a kidnapped woman. It's easy to read the clear, fluent prose but hard to swallow its uncompromising message. This expose of the oil industry in Nigeria made me think twice about the human and environmental cost of taking the car out of the garage or turning up the central heating another degree.


The rigs went up, and the gas flares, and the workers came and set up camp in our midst, we saw our village change, right before our eyes. And that was why we decided to leave, ten families. We didn't take their money. The money would be our curse on them, for taking our land, and for killing our chief. We left, we headed northwards, we've lived in five different places now, but always we've had to move. We are looking for a place we can live in peace. But it is hard. So your question, are we happy here? I say how can we be happy when we are mere wanderers without a home?


Any book by Chinua Achebe
The Constant Gardener by John LeCarre

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