The Tragedy of Pollution

Industrial Pollution and its impact on African economies was the thrust of Eloi Bella’s NKAPA: Une Affaire Africaine. The 52-minute documentary went across a number of African countries whose wildlife, agriculture and local industries have been gradually destroyed due to chemical pollution and a lack of regulatory laws on the disposal of poisonous and toxic gases.

The documentary derives its title from a town in Cameroun that was ravaged by a toxic dump of chlorine. Cleaning up this spill became a political issue that left in its wake many sick and dead. The owner of the poisonous waste is never brought to book after successfully bribing his way through the system, while those affected continue to suffer in silence. According to the narrator, “With nobody responsible, no Nkapa affair and therefore no victim,” a common trail throughout the documentary.

Words of wisdom from Wangari Maathai, late Kenyan Environmental activist and Nobel Peace laureate called for a need to be responsible for the environment. This, she said, was primarily the government’s task, but in the absence of this, the people themselves had to be vigilant. In the absence of a healthy, sustainable environment, she said, survival itself was not guaranteed. No surprise considering a continent that cannot feed itself faces possible extinction.

In another pointer to how certain companies operate in the developing world, Bella introduces the issue of outdated or prohibited pesticides that are still being used across African farmlands. Most of these had been banned in Europe for many years. One commentator in the film said, most of the companies profited from this because Europe gives little opportunity for bringing European companies to trial for offences that occurred outside Europe. This makes it easy for the companies to thrive in their corrupt and sometimes fatal practices.

With GM foods steadily growing across the continent, the natural agricultural state of farmlands is also being eroded. For Maathai, many foreign investors believe the presence of so much wildlife in Africa symbolised a lack of civilisation, in this wise, it appeared their mission with their businesses was to obliterate this sense of nature and replace it with farmland made desolate and infertile, no thanks to chemical pollution.

Adding a mention of the controversial carbon-trading concept, Nkapa gives a largely complete picture of the devastating effects that so-called advancements in development across Africa might cause the local economy and industries. These activities under Bella’s visual documentation come across as nothing less than criminal. 


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