“My name is Felicia Atsepoyi, but you can call me
Mama Ayo. That’s what everyone in my village of Ugborodo calls me. My
village is right across the creek from the ChevronTexaco terminal that
pumps oil deep in Nigeria’s delta. We live in shacks with no
electricity or indoor plumbing, but you should see that company place.
One of my friends said it’s like paradise – everything all clean and
beautiful. Another said, “I saw America there.” That’s because of the
air conditioning and the paved roads, the telephones and fresh salad, a
machine called a microwave and good foam in the beds.
“We were pretty angry when we saw such luxury. For over forty years
ChevronTexaco was growing richer while we were growing poorer. We knew
there was a big difference between the two sides of the creek, but we
didn’t know how much until the day we women crossed to the other side.
For ten days hundreds of women occupied the terminal until the oil
company agreed to provide our village with electricity and water, and
to build schools, a community center, and houses. It also agreed to
increase student scholarships and help us women set up poultry and fish
“We did in ten days what the men had not done in
years. And do you know what the men say now that we have won? That we
are “big-headed.” The elders are worried that our new assertiveness
will weaken their authority. They’re worried that we will enter their
shrine. Well, who knows? That, too, may be just around the corner. . . “
Read More »Felicia Atsepoyi (Mama Ayo)