Written by Joelcy Kay

Editor & Curator of Edge of Humanity Magazine



The Urhobo People baking tapioca using the heat generated by a gas flare (pp.20-23) starts off this massive depiction of daily life in the Niger Delta and the impact of oil on the lives of its inhabitants.

The images throughout this book illustrate resilience and poverty, in a place where oil spills seem to be a norm; emitting a level of realism (a feeling of being there). The photos depicting environmental pollution makes the viewer gasp for air (pp.30-33), they tell a story of hard working people, living without sanitation under the shadows of oil.

Oil facility images (pp.50-59) are presented in tight shots of workers in action and also on aerial photographs. Workers are found wearing full protective gear even behind computer workstations.

The book cover image is found on (ch. Slave Ship to Oil Tankers) which also contains interesting historical pictures and facts.  Wider than presented on the cover, this two pages portrait of two men’s torso holding machetes and soaked in oil while cleaning up an oil spill, has no protective gear on sight (pp.66-67).

The Empire of Commodities chapter, again with historical images and facts, depicts fish (fish market, drying fish and selling fish). My favorite (p.80-81) displays a child on the mother’s back and fish for sale all around.

After flipping through easy to see images of children playing (ch. Generation) one must take a deep breath or a long sip of whiskey in order to carry on.  The following images of a slaughterhouse are dark in all aspects with an apocalyptic vibe (pp.120-127).  You know you are looking at a documentary, but your emotional reaction is surreal just enough not to lose grip of the extremely harsh reality it portrays;  impressive, out of this world photographs , thank you Ed.

Poverty in print can be found in chapter Vanishing Soft Side that depicts dwelling and lack of sanitation.  The image of a person bathing (pp.134-135) is my favorite.

A girl holds a colorful Shell umbrella while she walks on pipelines, a storytelling image (ch. Now is the Time, pp.148-149).

Photographs of vibrant lady’s dresses and headdresses lift the mood on ch. Twelve Years Later.  Also included are shots of celebrations, daily life and food markets. My favorite image (pp.170-171) depicts three women, dressed for a traditional wedding.

The final images in ‘Curse Of The Black Gold | 50 Years Of Oil In The Niger Delta’ depicts painful moments of struggle, human suffering and structural loss. Grand Commander the book’s last chapter contains strong, high impact pictures of men holding heavy fire power and death.

‘Curse Of The Black Gold | 50 Years Of Oil In The Niger Delta’ is a must have for photography collectors of raw images and anyone interested in Africa’s social issues and the power of oil in recent history.  A large percentage of the images occupied two pages of the book, you remember them after you close the covers.


For book specifics see Amazon.com below:

Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in The Niger Delta



Are you looking to have a published review of your Photo Book?


Joelcy Kay (the curator of Edge of Humanity Magazine and the NO MIDDLEMAN ART GALLERY) has written many reviews for books in the Edge of Humanity Magazine’s Photography Book Collection and now she is available to write yours.


Here are some of her book recommendations:


Humboldt Sunsets
By Matthew Busse
Photography Book Recommendation
By Edge of Humanity Magazine



Living Faith

Inside the Muslim World of Southeast Asia

By Steve Raymer

Photography Book Recommendation

By Edge of Humanity Magazine


Under A Grudging Sun

By Alex Webb

Photography Book Recommendation

By Edge of Humanity Magazine



Peoples Of The Omo Valley

By Hans Silvester

Photography Book Recommendation

By Edge of Humanity Magazine



By Edward Burtynsky

Photography Book Recommendation By Edge

of Humanity Magazine


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