Adewale Maja-Pearce

Adewale Maja-Pearce lives in Lagos. Legacies, a collection of essays, is due in 2022.

Short Cuts: Nigerian Oil

Adewale Maja-Pearce, 6 January 2022

Nigeria pumps out​ 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, making it the biggest producer on the continent. The multinationals – Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell et al – in partnership with local firms and the state oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, have made billions from it, and oil accounts for more than half of government income. But next to none of this money...

Strewn with Loot

Adewale Maja-Pearce, 12 August 2021

InFebruary 1897, the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, a British expeditionary force sacked the ancient city of Benin. They exiled the oba, or ruler, Ovonramwen, and carted away more than four thousand pieces of sculpture, known collectively as the Benin bronzes. The attack was prompted by the killing of several men belonging to a British expedition who had tried to enter...

Kagame has successfully deflected criticism, partly thanks to Western guilt over the genocide (a recent report commissioned by Macron said that France bears an ‘overwhelming responsibility’) and partly by implying that criticism is a vestige of colonial condescension. But Western opinion may be starting to turn against him, at least if Michela Wrong’s book – and the favourable reception it has received – is anything to go by. And Kagame’s standing isn’t helped by his economic record. The supposed miracle he has worked over the last twenty years has turned out to be a sham. Officially, the Rwandan economy has been growing at a rate of 7 per cent a year, but according to an anonymous statistician in the Review of African Political Economy only South Sudan has experienced ‘a faster increase in poverty’. Two-thirds of the population now lives below the poverty line, an increase of 15 per cent in a decade. 

From The Blog
28 October 2020

On Thursday morning, I stood on my upstairs balcony in Surulere in Lagos and watched the smoke from a burning building. It turned out to be the house of the state governor’s mother. (The family house in another suburb was also torched.) Nearby, the headquarters of our House of Representatives member was spared the same fate only because it was next to a hospital, although all the windows were broken. It later transpired that politicians had been hoarding food – beans, noodles, sugar, salt, garri, rice, vegetable oil – meant for Covid-19 relief, some dating back months, in warehouses up and down the country. Nigerians of all ages were aghast. In some instances, even the soldiers sent to guard the warehouses – the police had made themselves scarce – assured the looters that they were there to keep the peace and not prevent them from carting off what was theirs anyway.

From The Blog
19 October 2020

I am far from alone in admiring the protesters’ growing sense of their own inherent power, gaining in confidence with every passing day. Their dignity and self-possession mock the shamelessness of those who have so carelessly squandered their future; and at the same time they are asking how we could have allowed this state of affairs to prevail, six decades after Nigeria’s independence.


D.A.N. Jones, 12 July 1990

Men who get their memoirs published are generally confident enough to report, gleefully, their victories over particular opponents, and to try to explain any defeats. There is another sort of...

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