Gabon: Caught Between the Forest and the Oil Fields

Gabon has a history not so much different from many other African countries: the scramble for Africa, French colonialism, and subsequent withdrawal pains…

Primitive cultures juxtaposed against the modern age that colonialism brought, and the corresponding degradation of traditional lifestyles, or so I hear…

But Gabon has something most of the rest don’t have–oil. So dividing that revenue between a million people over a large hunk of turf yields a per capita income of almost $9K–high for the region, and very unevenly distributed..

The irony is that they’ve still got some of the most traditional people–forest people–practicing a syncretic half-Christian half-native religion called Bwiti, that’s fueled by the ritual consumption of a local drug called iboga, guaranteed to get you closer to God…

And the government is committed to devoting ten percent of its land for national parks, green and pristine. So what if basic daily necessities have to be imported from France, because the people no longer know how to support themselves? Meh, pas de probleme…

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