Musical Representations of Oil, Environmental Degradation, (In)justice and (Dis)placement in the Niger Delta of Nigeria


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of Music


Scholarship on Nigerian musical spaces have tended towards preoccupation with romanticisation. However, little scholarly attention has been directed at the engagement of popular music with environmental degradation. The central thesis of this study is that the people of the Niger Delta have ideas, assumptions and values about the environment – a form of indigenous ecological knowledge – that they express in music and that they bring to bear on socio-environmental problems related to natural resource extraction. Musicians whose works reflect the dominant trends in the environmental humanities of Niger Delta oil include Felix Liberty, Inatimi Alfred Odon, Nneka Nnodim, and the Egbesu Festival singers. The study employs ethnographic research, musical and textual analysis in the context of ecomusicology theory and the idea of slow violence and an environmentalism of the poor. The study concludes that music is a productive tool that connects people emotionally to their environment and helps advocate for sustainability.