In 1999, the Nigerian army responded to the killing of a dozen policemen by a gang of young men by razing the entire town of Odi. Virtually no buildings were left standing, and according to Earth Rights Watch, some 2,500 people were killed.
Despite its tragic history, Odi is no ghost town. Some 24,000 people live there today. And, it is the home of the Ogori Ba Uge, or Buffalo Festival, one of the region’s largest and most convivial annual gatherings.
Gordon Abiama, in partnership with the Georgist community, hopes to contribute to the hopeful rebirth of the Odi community by establishing an ecovillage “Living and Learning Center” there. He described the proposed project thus:
“Development in the region has to be sustainable, socially as well an environmentally. Young people don’t even know where to look for jobs, aside from working for the government. The ecovillage would show them the sort of sustainable businesses they could run, without concentrated capital. There is a great need for these opportunities, especially for young women. Various groups, who could use the Living-Learning Center’s facilities to run programs; we see the ecovillage as a local ecotourism destination.
“We have a four-acre site, on the major East-West road, which includes a pond for aquaculture. We need to do some re-clearing. We have refused offers to buy this land. Housing facilities at our ecovillage would be in demand for various uses. Over 100,000 people come to the festival in July. A great variety of activities and program draw young people from all over, and accommodations are always in short supply. We also plan to organize seminars in cooperation with the federal government’s bio-resource center, which is nearby — and needs housing for students who come there for training programs.
“It will provide a very good opportunity to promote the Georgist philosophy. And, there are great research opportunities in mapping the local land, which has not been done, and needs to be.
“We could get the center going with initial support of $25,000.”
Please help to make this urgently needed program a reality! The Henry George Institute will accept contributions earmarked for the Odi Ecovillage project. For more information, write to Gordon c/o the HGI. — L. D.