After being banished from his homeland for opposing Shell’s mining activities in the Niger Delta, vocal Nigerian environmental activist and writer Barry Wuganaale has called on South Africans to rally against the prospects of fracking for shale gas in the Karoo.
Wuganaale, who witnessed the persecution many Ogonil people in the area where Shell has been operating since 1956 said in excess of R400 billion over 35 years would be needed to rehabilitate the once fertile agriculture land in the Niger Delta damaged by excessive oil mining.
He said over 100 wells were drilled and thousands of pipelines laid out in shallow trenches to the detriment of the environment and health of the people.
Wuganaale warned South Africans they should resist fracking as he claimed Shell was capable of manipulating politicians by offering them bribes leading to the mining benefiting multinational companies to the detriment of people living in the Karoo.
He said the country should commit to developing clean energies such as wind and solar power generation instead of fossil fuel mining that harmed the environment and contributed to climate change through the emission of carbon gases into the atmosphere.
“An enemy of Shell is a friend of mine and a friend of Shell is an enemy of mine,” he said.
He urged South Africa’s most vocal anti-fracking lobby group, the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) to keep opposing the exploration of shale gas reserves in the Karoo.
Wuganaale, who has become a close ally of TKAG leader Jonathan Deal, said South Africans should rally behind Deal as the possible contamination of ground water due to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of subterranean shale was an issue that went beyond racial lines.
He said for TKAG to launch a successful legal battle against fracking they were in desperate need of about R3 million in funds and ordinary people should help raise that money.
Wuganaale is the leader of the Ogoni Solidarity Forum based in Cape Town and comprising 20 Ogoni activists who fled political persecution in Nigeria.
He said said on November 10 they would be marking the 18 anniversary since the murder of well known Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa but the event would be low key due to a lack of funding.
The South Africa government lifted a moratorium on the processing of shale gas exploration licenses in September with Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu saying they were prepared to defend the government’s decision in court. – Francis Hweshe