The Nigerian Navy last Tuesday displaced thousands of people in the once peaceful Tarkwa Bay region by giving them less than an hour to flee their homes before ripping them to pieces, flattening them with bulldozers and laying waste to the popular surfing area through brute force, violence and direct violation of the Nigerian constitution.
Tarkwa Bay, with its wedging, powerful A-frames, is considered the epicenter of Nigerian surfing and is well known to Zigzag. Zag did a famous strike to the Island, which is made of reclaimed land, back in 2011 featuring surfing superstar Ricky Basnett, Zag Editor Will Bendix and Photo Editor, Greg Ewing. The trip was groundbreaking in that Tarkwa Bay, for the first time in its short history was captured and presented to the world as a legitimate surf region, with undeniably good waves.
All Images – Greg Ewing
At the heart of the latest conflict is oil. According to Navy Commander Thomas Otuji, the evictions were part of an operation to stop oil theft along the pipelines.
A local surfer and highly credible source, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells a very different story.
“ Every few years the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), goes through the process of controlling the spreading of settlement in Tarkwa Bay. The reason behind it is the constant vandalism to the pipelines that cross the land at the back. The pipeline constantly gets tapped into and thousands of litres of fuel are reportedly written off as a loss every year. This happens mostly in the Delta but also here in Lagos to some scale. The community of Tarkwa bay is over 60 years old, and its growth comes directly form the business generated by the NNPC itself.”
“Realistically NNPC has done little to support the community, with very little employment coming from them. The village has self-created services to sustain and support all activities in and out of the harbour, including more recently, tourism and surfing.”
Amongst all the violence and displacement at Tarkwa Bay, the local surfing community has banded together and stood their ground, seeking to rebuild and reclaim a place they call home. There is more at stake at Tarkwa Bay than just the waves.
“ The island is basically deserted with little to no food. We plan daily trips and take food to the local community of surfer kids. The original colonial houses have been spared and we are hoping to secure these for accommodation for all the surf kids that refused to leave with their families. Hopefully, we can settle with the local authorities and secure a property to renovate, to make it a permanent, safe haven.”
Zag is wishing the whole Tarkwa Bay surfing community a speedy recovery, an end to the violence and a return to the wedging A-frames that are always close to home. The surf club members now need your help to rebuild the club and their lives, if you are willing and up for supporting a good cause then please click here to find out more on how you can help.
This comes just a few weeks after Vans released their second episode of ‘Weird Waves’ season 2.