The Nigerian Activist Trying to Sell Plants to the Oil Company That Destroyed Them

“They were dragging me from behind,” she stated. “It all went bad.”

Shaken, Mrs. Agbani and her crew left and didn’t return to Yaataah for months. She determined to base the nursery elsewhere — a neighborhood chief agreed to lend her land shut to the polluted websites in Bodo.

But she couldn’t fairly let go of Yaataah. It had an excellent creek the place they might apply cultivating mangroves out in the wild, straight from seeds, slightly than first establishing them in the plastic develop luggage of the nursery in Bodo.

And now, in May 2021, the ladies had been again to plant.

Hoisting the sacks onto their heads, and with their skirts above their knees, the ladies descended the little hill barefoot and slipped into the clear water of the creek. It didn’t keep clear for lengthy, although, as dozens of ft stirred up the mushy sediment.

“Something’s sizzling round my legs,” stated Mrs. Agbani, 45, laughing, leaning on a stick, and struggling to get a foothold in the mud. “Oh my god, Martha is an old woman.”

The spot was excellent. There was little or no oil air pollution. Birds, frogs and crickets nonetheless sang from their clumps of foliage. Like many a creek of the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, it was choked by nipa palms. But Mrs. Agbani had organized for villagers to clear a big patch of the palms.

The ladies squelched nimbly via the mud over to the patch and labored shortly, passing the seeds — technically, podlike propagules” that germinate on the tree — from hand to hand and sticking them in the mud at foot-long intervals, directed by Mrs. Agbani.

“Carry me dey go-o,” one in all the ladies, Jessy Nubani, sang, arising and down as she labored, adapting a well-liked call-and-response track. The different ladies sang again in concord: “Martha, carry me dey go, dey go, dey go.”

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