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A Niger Delta Legacy

2014-2015

Summary

The A Niger Delta Legacy project directly supported 20 communities with a series of leadership trainings, conflict transformation mediation, and non-violent advocacy activities. This support, along with educational radio broadcasting, provided approximately 500 people across three states of the Niger Delta with practical peacebuilding tools, adopting non-violent means to campaign for change and investment in their communities. To engage a broader population across the Niger Delta, SDN commissioned a series of videos called A Dawn in the Creeks directed in a collaboration between a Nigerian-born Hollywood producer, and 21 young people living in the Niger Delta. The young participants creatively told their personal stories of adversity and of turning away from violence towards peaceful ways of creating a better future for themselves.

Through this project, community participants demonstrated that they are open to learning from one another, believing they can be agents of change and co-operate to become a powerful force for positive development. The project was implemented in partnership with local partners; Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE-AFRICA), Mac-Jim Foundation, and Support Initiative for Sustainable Development (SISDEV).

Aims

This campaign aimed to influence behaviour and shape perspectives by demonstrating that a future without violence is possible and preferable, while grassroots mobilisation activities have the potential to achieve this peaceful change.

Key activities

  • A reality TV series, Dawn in the Creeks, was created, which documented the transformation of 21 young people living in the Niger Delta who had been involved in violence in the past. As well as being available on YouTube, these videos were shown in a road show through Port Harcourt city and smaller towns in the Niger Delta.
  • Town hall meetings were organised for participants to openly discuss their opinions on the benefits of non-violent approaches to change.
  • SDN worked with Mac-Jim Foundation to organise a two-day training on Leadership and Civic Education with sixty participants drawn from the three Local Government Areas. These participants were appointed peace ambassadors in their communities.
  • In order to maximise the impact and spread the word as wide as possible in the violence prone areas of Bayelsa state, three ‘cultural fiestas’ were also organised. They aimed to revive and showcase local cultural traditions while bringing people from different communities together in the name of non-violence and peacebuilding.

Context

A number of interconnected factors underlie the Niger Delta’s experience of outbreaks of violent and destructive conflict. Poor governance, few livelihood opportunities, environmental degradation, and inadequate public services foster regional grievances. In the absence of effective channels to communicate grievances, tensions manifest themselves in intra and inter-community conflict. There were also concerns that volatility and interference in the region would undermine the freedom, fairness, and credibility of the forthcoming elections.

Results

A reality TV series, Dawn in the Creeks, was created, which documented the transformation of 21 young people living in the Niger Delta who had been involved in violence in the past. These participants were trained as film-makers by Jeta Amata—a director working in Hollywood with Nigerian roots. The TV series gave a message of hope for a brighter, violence–free future for young people living across the Niger Delta. 25 episodes of Dawn in the Creeks—spreading clear messages of non-violent change, were broadcast across Nigeria during 2014/2015. Watch all episodes

The Niger Delta Youth Forum was the culmination of the increased dialogue that the project’s engagement facilitated, and reflected the power of active citizenship in changing mind-sets. Previously apathetic about the government’s willingness to address their grievances, the young participants demonstrated a new-found confidence in civic engagement.


Project resources

Funders and Partners

Published: 11.12.2019