|Title||The Curse of Black Gold|
|Date released (year)||2007|
|Production company||Talking Eyes Media|
|Keywords/tags||Oil, mining, natural resources, environmental degradation|
|Link to film||
|Synopsis||The Niger Delta is one of the world’s most important oil producers. But these lucrative reserves have brought little but misery to the local population. Petroleum leaks from oil wells, polluting water supplies, contaminating farmland and poisoning residents. Foreign oil workers retreat behind walled compounds, hiding from the militias who want to take control of the oil revenues. Bomb attacks, abductions and murders have become part of daily life. http://www.javafilms.fr/spip.php?article43|
|Reviews/discussion||Fifty years ago, oil was discovered in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Today, at 2.1 million barrels per day, Nigeria is the sixth-largest oil-producing country in the world and a major oil partner of the United States. Although its oil industry generates millions of dollars in revenues daily, the average resident of the Niger Delta struggles to survive on less than $1 per day.
These startling facts are portrayed in Curse of the Black Gold, a multimedia video produced by Julie Winokur of Talking Eyes Media. The video, which contains hundreds of photographs by Ed Kashi, exposes the enormous costs and devastating impact of oil exploitation on the region. The impassioned voices of Nigerian activists and poets describe how the convergence of government corruption, irresponsible oil-company practices, and abject poverty has created a militant movement seeking redress.
Photos in the video were culled from Kashi’s award-winning book Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta. The book, edited by Michael Watts, also features text by Nigerian journalists and human-rights activists.
|Links to other resources||Watts, M. (ed) (2008) Curse of the black gold: 50 years of oil in the Niger Delta. New York: Powerhouse.
|Title||China’s African Takeover|
|Director(s)||Tom Porter, Aidan Hartley|
|Date released (year)||2007|
|Production company||Channel 4|
|Keywords/tags||international trade, China, mining, natural resources, labour, neoliberalism|
|Link to film||
|Synopsis||China’s economic boom is resulting in the biggest scramble for Africa since the end of European colonialism. Thousands of Chinese workers are now in Central Africa, buying up copper and cobalt. Reporter Aidan Hartley and producer Tom Porter begin their journey at a Chinese-owned mining complex. Locals tell Hartley that Chinese investment is fueling an economic boom in Zambia, bringing jobs and also skills that they can pick up. But many Zambians also accuse the Chinese of being so focused on making money out of Africa that they do not care about the local people. Source: http://freedocumentaries.org/int.php?filmID=369|
|Reviews/discussion||Unreported World comes from Central Africa, where our demand for Chinese-made goods such as mobile phones, MP3 players and laptops comes at a terrible human cost.China’s economic boom is resulting in the biggest scramble for Africa since the end of European colonialism. Trade between Beijing and Africa has more than quadrupled since 2000 and hundreds of new companies, many of them partly owned by the Chinese State, have set up. Thousands of Chinese workers are now in Central Africa, buying up copper and cobalt.Reporter Aidan Hartley and producer Tom Porter begin their journey at a Chinese-owned mining complex. It’s in the heart of Zambia’s copper belt, into which the Chinese are pouring billions of dollars of investment. Locals tell Hartley that Chinese investment is fuelling an economic boom in Zambia, bringing jobs and also skills that they can pick up.
But many Zambians also accuse the Chinese of being so focused on making money out of Africa that they do not care about the local people. The team are shown a cemetery where 46 victims of one of Zambia’s worst industrial accidents – an explosion at a Chinese-owned factory – are buried. Local residents accuse the Chinese management of failing to uphold safety standards. Other locals claim that the factory is responsible for environmental damage, and Hartley finds a stream heavily polluted by acidic effluent.
From Zambia, Hartley and Porter travel to Congo, which has been torn apart by a civil war between armed militias fighting for control of its resources. Katanga province is one of the world’s richest areas for mineral reserves, from where Chinese companies are exporting thousands of tonnes of heterogenite – ore rich in base metals.
In the boom town of Lubumbashi, the team enters vast open cast mines where countless thousands of impoverished Congolese toil to earn a survival income. Hartley and Porter are confronted with an apocalyptic landscape in which many of the miners appear to be drunk or high on drugs, with fights frequently breaking out.
Worst of all, the team discovers that a key aspect of the huge copper and cobalt mining industry is the exploitation of child labour. Many of the miners have to hand-dig tunnels into the hillsides, and because the shafts are small they use children to hack out the ore and shift sacks of rocks. When it rains, the tunnels are vulnerable to collapse and dozens of miners die every month. The children are also exposed to radioactivity because this area is close to the uranium mines that supplied the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Around the mine, the team find dozens of Chinese brokers exploiting this chaotic environment by buying-up the ore extract. They react violently when Porter tries to film them. Local villagers tell Unreported World that although the Chinese are bringing enterprise, their business practices are making a profit at a tragic human cost. But, they say, they have no alternative but to trade with them.
|Links to other resources||Wenran Jiang (2009). Fuelling the Dragon: China’s Rise and Its Energy and Resources Extraction in Africa. The China Quarterly,199, pp 585609China Talking Points: http://www.chinatalkingpoints.com/video-unreported-world-chinas-african-takeover/|
|Date released (year)||2007|
|Production company||Tac Presse|
|Location||Democratic Republic of Congo|
|Keywords/tags||Minerals, mining, natural resources, environmental justice, violence, DRC|
|Link to film||http://freedocumentaries.org/teatro.php?filmID=400&lan=en&size=big|
|Synopsis||“A hardhitting documentary that shows us the appalling price paid in Africa to sate our obession for mobile phones” Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/oct/20/blood-in-the-mobile-film-review
Mobile phones: everyone owns one, they are indispensable in our modern lives. But what almost no one knows: in each one of these devices is blood. Because these small marvels of technology do not work without a metal named Coltan. The main source of this material lies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also one of the main sources for the war there. This film explores how these mobile phones are funding killings in the Congo and how people with powerful interests are maintaining this blood trade.
|Reviews/discussion||There could hardly be anything more contemporary than a movie about the mobile phones to which we are all addicted, and the dirty little secret of their manufacture. They all require the mineral coltan for electronic components, much of which is mined in a lawless eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose gangsters, warlords and rogue army units “tax” every aspect of this grisly industry. Coltan mining and mobile-phone use has effectively financed murder, intimidation and mass rape as a way of life. Danish director Frank Poulsen has made a tough investigative film about this, demanding that his own supplier, Nokia, owns up to how much coltan it is buying from the DRC, and travels out there to see conditions for himself. The mine turns out to be a chaotic shanty-town on a mountain honeycombed with unsafe tunnels, and policed by warring factions of scary, trigger-happy bullies. The mining and gangsterism have grown up together, dysfunctionally hand in hand. The raw material is shipped out to Malaysia and elsewhere, smelted into tantalum and it is at this point that the big corporations buy it, firmly incurious as to its origin. Nokia is deeply uncomfortable about this subject. Did the saintly Steve Jobs have anything to say? We talk about conflict diamonds; maybe now is the time to talk about conflict mobile phones.|
|Links to other resources||http://freedocumentaries.org/int.php?filmID=400|
|Title||Blood and Chocolate|
|Director(s)||Evan Williams, James Brabazon|
|Date released (year)||2007|
|Production company||Channel 4|
|Keywords/tags||Labour abuses, agriculture, commodities, civil war, international trade|
|Link to film||http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwHFQByuUI8, www.channel4.com/programmes/unreported-world/episode-guide/series-2007/episode-3
|Synopsis||Blood diamonds may get all the media attention, but as this Unreported World highlights, there’s a far cheaper commodity bought by millions of Britons every week, which is fuelling a violent conflict in West Africa: chocolate. Hundreds of men, women and children have been killed, villages razed to the ground and thousands forced to move into slum refugee camps. And all because the world loves chocolate.After four years of civil war between ethnic groups in the south and north of the Ivory Coast, which killed more than 2,000 people, there’s supposed to be a UN-sponsored ceasefire. But reporter Evan Williams and producer James Brabazon need armed guards as they begin their journey driving through the west of the country up to the front line. All along the roadside are villages that have been burned down.
The team walks into the village of Sada, where every house has been destroyed. The local militia chief tells them that 200 people used to live here. He claims that they fled when they were attacked by raiders – northerners from a neighbouring village.
It’s immediately clear that the raid was all about control of the village’s cocoa crop. Ivory Coast provides around 43% of the world’s cocoa, and it provides more than a third of the country’s entire foreign exchange. Cocoa growers can make between £500 £1000 a year – an extraordinary amount of money for this part of the world.
The team drives on to another village, Zéaglo, just in time to witness a show of strength by the main southern militia. Their leader, Mao Glofiei , claims to have ten thousand men under arms. According to the ceasefire his men should have disarmed. But Unreported World films Mao Glofei distributing a cache of automatic weapons, while his men sing that ‘the rebels are bad, their mothers are bad, their fathers are bad, their children are bad and we’ve got to kill them.’
Driving down the most dangerous road in the country and deeper into the disputed areas, the team arrives in the village of Duezone. Villagers say five thousand people used to live here, but only a handful have dared to return. One resident, Ferdinand, tells them that attackers burst into his house at dawn, slashing his father with a machete and killing his brother. He says it was all about who controlled the cocoa-growing land.
Williams and Brabazon drive on to a village populated by the so-called northern immigrants. One of them tells the team that when they originally came to the area, they were welcomed by the local indigenous people, but as soon as they started profiting from the land by growing cocoa the locals started demanding it back. For this reason, he has to fight to protect himself and keep his land.
A new peace deal between the two sides is meant to lead to an election later this year. Under the deal UN forces are already planning to withdraw. But as Unreported World films combatants on both sides rearming and retraining, localised attacks over land and cocoa threaten to spiral yet again into a full-blown confrontation.
|Reviews/discussion||Producer James Brabazon is no stranger to risky assignments. But even he, alongside reporter Evan Williams, needed armed guards to make Blood and Chocolate in ethnically explosive Ivory Coast. The guards in question are “native” (their description) southern Ivorians and it’s not possible to travel to the west of the country without them. Despite the 2003 UN-sponsored peace deal that followed four years of civil war, the southerners refuse to disarm, claiming that “immigrant” foreigners from the north pose a constant threat to the south’s land and cocoa. Yes, cocoa – 40 per cent of the world’s cocoa plants are found in this region. Blood diamonds get the publicity, but the raw ingredient for the millions of chocolate bars consumed every week is fuelling a conflict increasingly at odds with the notion of a ceasefire. PWD Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/3664757/Todays-TV-and-radio-choices.html
Unreported World is a foreign affairs programme produced by Quicksilver Media Productions and broadcast by Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. Over the course of its twenty-four series, reporters have travelled to dangerous locations all over the world in an attempt to uncover stories usually ignored by the world media. The first episode of series 24 was broadcast on 2 November, 2012. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unreported_World
(see this link for full list of Unreported World episodes)
|Links to other resources||Canadian divisions of chocolate makers face price-fixing accusations, November 28, 2007:
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2007/11/28/chocolate-investigation.htmlMystery trader buys all Europe’s cocoa, by Jonathan Sibun and Harry Wallop, July 17, 2010
The purchase was enough to move the entire global cocoa market, sending the price to the highest level since 1977, and triggering rumours and intrigue in the City.
It is unclear which person, or group of traders, was behind the deal, but it was the largest single cocoa trade for 14 years.
The cocoa beans, which are sitting in warehouses either in The Netherlands, Hamburg, or closer to home in London, Liverpool or Humberside is equivalent to the entire supply of the commodity in Europe, and would fill more than five Titanics. They are worth £658 million.
Analysts said it was very unlikely that a chocolate company, such as Nestle or Kraft, or even their suppliers, would buy such a huge order in one go and that is was probable that one or a number of speculators, possibly hedge funds, had attempted to corner the market. By doing this, they would have control of the entire supply in Europe, forcing the price yet higher.
Eugen Weinberg, an analyst with Commerzbank, said: “For one buyer it would likely be a little bit too large. It would be a crazy number. That said, if you’re cornering the market …”
“If it looks like cornering, feels like cornering and the price difference between Europe and the US is so large, it probably is cornering.”
“There is some play taking place. No one really knows what is going on.”
Andreas Christiansen, president of the German Cocoa Trade Association, said the “hefty” price move was “a mirror of what can be done if people control the physical stock”.
Cocoa prices, which had been on the rise this year, rose 0.7 per cent yesterday, to £2,732 per metric ton. By contrast, cocoa being traded on the US exchange fell.
This is the highest price for cocoa in Europe since 1977, and comes after a series of weak harvests in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, the main areas where the crop is grown. Fears of floods in the Ivory Coast have sent prices even higher, as speculators have bet on another poor harvest, and a shortage of supply.
At the same time demand is on the increase, especially as China and India develop an ever sweeter tooth.
Cocoa prices have more than doubled since 2007, forcing chocolate makers to raise prices and in some cases to change recipes to use less cocoa.
Laurent Pipitone, senior statistician at the International Cocoa Organisation in London, said: “In the past two years, all companies have increased prices.”
There are fears that the extraordinary activity on the commodity markets will filter down to higher prices on the shop shelves for the nation’s favourite chocolate bars, even milk chocolate, which has only 25 per cent cocoa content.
The trade took place on the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (Liffe), a market which trades contracts in commodities such as corn, wheat, sugar, coffee and cocoa.
Most of these contracts are “options” or “futures” giving a trader the right to buy these commodities at a certain price at a certain time in the future. What made yesterday’s trade so unusual was that the mystery buyer or buyers took physical delivery of the commodity.
The beans will be stored in one of Liffe’s warehouses in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Bremen, Felixstowe, Hamburg, Humberside, Le Havre, Liverpool, London, Rotterdam, or Teesside.
There have been mounting worries that speculators have been distorting the cocoa market in recent weeks, with brokers writing a letter of protest to Liffe earlier this month.
Barbara Crowther, a spokesman at the Fairtrade Foundation, said that no farmers in West Africa would benefit from the higher prices. She said: “This speculation only serves to increase volatility and uncertainty. Part of the problems in rent years have been the lack of investment in improving cocoa farms. But the farmers have already been paid a set price – none of this money will filter down to them.”