Harper’s Magazine congratulates Samuel James, recipient of the 2012 Olivier Rebbot Award for best photographic reporting from abroad in magazines or books. The award, presented by the Overseas Press Club honors James’s photo essay, “The Water of My Land,” which appeared in the September 2012 issue.
James’s photographs, shot in the Niger Delta, depict fires from hundreds of clandestine fuel refineries that burn every night, as well as refinery workers laboring in environmentally toxic conditions while under constant threat from government authorities and local militias. Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the fifth-largest supplier of oil to the United States. Many residents of the Niger delta — shut out of the multibillion-dollar industry that extracts oil from their land — resort to the clandestine fuel trade to survive.