EACOP versus Pink-Haired Propaganda

EACOP versus Pink-Haired Propaganda

By Josepha Jabo

I woke up on the morning of Wednesday, June 28, 2023 to find Elison Karuhanga—who is one of Uganda’s frontline East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) crusaders— had quoted a tweet by @JustStop_Oil (whose Twitter X handle I found incredibly amusing because the concept of stopping oil drilling just doesn’t work in Africa) that had been tweeted the previous day.

The @JustStop_Oil Twitter X account made no reference to the fact that they had just committed a crime. Instead, their carefully crafted tweet depicted the supposedly unfair arrest of a seemingly innocent girl. The tweet read as follows, ‘It’s time to pick a side. We don’t have time to waste anymore. Phoebe was arrested today for sitting on the pavement with their (her) friends outside the headquarters of TotalEnergies.’ Then @JustStop_Oil went ahead to make the most outrageous claim, ‘EACOP is a genocidal project that is destroying the lives of people in Uganda.’

To which Elison replied, in his quoted tweet, ‘Imagine calling @EACOP_ a genocidal project. If there is a genocidal project it is @JustStop_Oil and their poverty conservation agenda.’

In other words, @JustStop_Oil wants to keep Uganda poor energywise.

What genocide are they talking about?

The lies these people tell!

To solicit sympathy, @JustStop_Oil had uploaded a video, which showed Phoebe being carried on the streets of London by three British Police Officers from London’s Metropolitan Police Service as she yelled, “It’s time to pick a side. We don’t have time to waste anymore!”

“Why were you arrested?” a curious onlooker asked.

“For sitting down, with my friends, after they painted a building. I didn’t do anything. I sat on a pavement and now I’ve got a bit of orange paint on me and apparently that’s a crime now. Whilst the people in that building make decisions, which are killing people around the world. It is destroying the lives of people in Uganda!” Phoebe replied, just before she was ushered into a parked police van.

It was reported in the media that on Tuesday, June 27, 2023 four Just Stop Oil protestors had spray-painted TotalEnergies UK Headquarters in Canary Wharf, with orange and black paint, and were arrested for criminal damage. Phoebe was one of them.

Does Just Stop Oil have to resort to criminality, promote its propaganda? They seem to like getting arrested to remain ‘relevant.’ In July, this year, Just Stop Oil activists disrupted tennis matches at Wimbledon, by throwing confetti and jigsaw pieces on the tennis court—they were booed by the audience. Around the same time they protested in Harrods in London (one of their placards read ‘CAN’T EAT OIL’) and had to be forcibly removed by security. They’ve also been arrested for slow marching on a road in London, consequently they’ve received a lot of flak from the British public.

According to online reports, Phoebe Plummer is a 21-year-old from UK’s upper class. She is a privileged White girl, of medium height, with her hair dyed a shocking pink. Phoebe vaguely reminded me of the 1980s cartoon ‘Jem and the Holograms’ whose lead singer had shocking pink hair; the American pop star Pink and the pink hairdo Canadian pop star Justin Bieber sported in his 2020 ‘Yummy’ music video. Pink-Haired Phoebe, who played innocent, put on a good show!

Phoebe and her friends are just the latest in a long line of protesters, who have a White Saviour Complex, coupled with a neo-colonist attitude, when most of them have never set foot in Uganda, let alone visited Uganda’s oil region in Hoima to witness first-hand the social economic transformation that is already taking place, due to Uganda’s budding oil sector.

Phoebe also reminded me of another activist, Malte Gallée, who in 2022 (when he was 29 years old) erroneously claimed EACOP would pass through over 200 rivers in East Africa. A false claim, which sparked off a Twitter war with Uganda’s social media influencers, who challenged Gallée to name these fictitious rivers which, of course, he could not. On his Twitter X account @galleerie boasts of being the, ‘Youngest German Member of the European Parliament.’

The two, female activists from Fridays For Future pressure group who confronted French President, Emmanuel Macron last year, who also appeared to be in their twenties, begged Macron to use his power to, “Stop the disaster that is going on in Uganda,” by stopping TotalEnergies from constructing EACOP. Macron had to explain to them that Total does not belong to the French government. Macron’s sage advice to Fridays For Future, and by extension to all Anti-EACOP protestors was, “I respect the sovereign state.” Words of wisdom from one of their very own.

That’s the thing with most of these Anti-EACOP oil activists; they are White, young and ill-informed. Do these people even do research? Yet they resort to propaganda, as they posture themselves as spokespersons of Uganda’s oil! No one is off-limits, they will distort facts and harass anyone, from Macron to Sunak to spread their disinformation.

The fact of the matter is, Just Stop Oil is just an unpopular pressure group operating in the UK.

@RishiSunak (the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Leader of the Conservative Party in Parliament) tweeted on July 31, 2023, ‘Labour’s energy policy might as well have been written by Just Stop Oil. They’re even funded by the same person. And their policies would threaten both our energy security and jobs here in the UK. Today I took action to stop that from happening.’ This was as a result of him backing over 100 new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea.

In retaliation, four Greenpeace UK activists used ladders to scale the roof of Rishi Sunak’s manor house in North Yorkshire and hung a protest banner from the roof reading ‘NO NEW OIL.’ They were arrested and later released on bail. So, this environmental activism is not unique to Uganda—they also do it to their own. Anytime they sniff out a new oil and gas project, anywhere in the world, they spring into action!

The interesting thing is that inasmuch as Sunak is supporting these new licences, to mollify environmental activists, he still insists that it is “entirely consistent” with the UK government’s target to achieve net zero by 2050—a very clever move indeed. According to National Grid Group, ‘net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) that’s produced and the amount that’s removed from the atmosphere. It can be achieved through a combination of emission reduction and emission removal.’

Sunak intends to do this by investing in oil and gas and carbon capture simultaneously. Speaking to Channel 4 News on 31st July 2023, Rishi Sunak said, “I think it’s really important for everyone to recognize that even in 2050 when we are at net zero, it is forecast that around a quarter of our energy needs will still come from oil and gas. That’s why technology like carbon capture and storage are important. But what is important then is that we get that oil and gas in the best possible way and that means getting it from here at home.”

Speaking of home, I wonder what Phoebe and her friends at @JustStop_Oil would say if they saw the overjoyed faces of Uganda’s Project Affected Persons, after they received their new houses from TotalEnergies and EACOP as in-kind compensation. Do they even know about TotalEnergies Masters Scholarship Programme for Ugandan students or its Biodiversity Action Plan to help protect the Ugandan environment? What about the Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), which will be marketed to reduce deforestation? What would they say if they saw Kabalega International Airport, an airport that is being constructed in Hoima to support the oil sector and upon completion will be Uganda’s second international airport? These are the facts on the ground. Before they spray-painted TotalEnergies UK Headquarters, did Phoebe and her friends even do their homework? They are completely out of touch!

The writer works for Uganda Media Centre

Barrel Reporter

Barrel Reporter is an experienced writer who has worked in the Oil and Gas sector for several years, and has a keen interest in current projects in Ug...

Discover more from Barrel Magazine

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading



Click one of our contacts below to chat on WhatsApp

× Need any help?