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INTRODUCTION
EPISODE 1
EPISODE 2
EPISODE 3
The Ogoni Refugees:
Israel and Ngozi Nwidor

Barine Wiwa-Lawani

The tent that Israel Nwidor, his wife Ngozi, and their two children have called home for two years is worn and drooping. "When the rain falls you go outside, you're holding the ropes so that the place will not collapse," Israel explains. The small tent, one of hundreds crammed onto a muddy plain in a refugee camp in Benin, West Africa, has no running water, no bathroom and mats on the dirt floor that serve as beds.

The Nwidors are members of a small tribal minority known as the Ogonis. The Ogoni people opposed Nigeria's military government and the Shell Oil Corporation, which for years had been permitted to drill oil in their homeland despite a growing environmental catastrophe. Eventually, the military cracked down on the protesters, executing Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others. The wave of violence that followed forced many Ogonis to flee to refugee camps in neighboring Benin.

These Ogoni refugees are being resettled in different cities in the United States by the United Nations. All were forced out of their homes by discrimination and persecution and are coming to America because they cannot return to their homeland in the oil-rich Niger Delta Region. None of them know exactly where they will end up, nor do they believe they will be able to return to Nigeria. Most are hopeful about their new lives in America.


Israel and Ngozi Nwidor

"When I get to America, I want to lie on a good bed. I just want to have a nice sleep," says the optimistic Israel. Trained as a chemical engineer, he was unable to get a job in Nigeria's oil industry because of discrimination against the Ogonis. "I will be accepted in America," he says confidently. "Today, blacks living in the northern part of America are free and not discriminated against."

Although Ngozi Nwidor was born an Igbo, she fell in love with Israel when she was his student in their hometown of Bane, Nigeria. "Because of the love she had for Israel, she decided to stay and suffer with him," Ngozi's mother tells us. So now Ngozi is preparing to join Israel on a journey to America, "I've never been to America before. When I get there, I will join others, do the way they do, that’s all."


Barine Wiwa-Lawani

Barine Wiwa-Lawani is the sister of the slain Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Educated in England, she ran a thriving catering school and two restaurants in Nigeria that were bulldozed by the government, forcing her to flee to Benin with her four children.

INTRODUCTION
EPISODE 1
EPISODE 2
EPISODE 3


The Ogoni Refugees Video


Israel sits with his arm around Ngozi as she holds their son Karm
The Nwidors


Barine, in traditional dress and headwrap sits at a table beside her daughter who wears a tank top and necklace
Barine Wiwa-Lawani and daughter


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