The fishing boat cuts the silent water like a knife. Zemano and Grace are out looking for periwinkle shells. They left home at seven o’clock this morning hoping to fill a bucket or two with the small, black, cone-shaped shells.
−This is our only source of income, Grace tells us while she is paddling towards the shore where, in theory, the shells are to be found in the riverbank mud. So far the two women have been looking in vain. The mud where mangrove forest once grew used to be full of periwinkle, but after the major oil spills in 2008-2009 life in this part of the Niger delta is as good as extinguished.
−We used to fill our buckets in no time, and could earn a decent amount of money from selling the shells. These days we’re lucky if we get enough to feed our children. Zemano is seven…
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