On November 13th, award-winning journalist Eromo Egbejule’s directorial debut Jesse: The Funeral That Never Ended premieres at the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) in Lagos. The documentary film is the previously untold and emotionally gripping story of another community in the oil-rich Niger Delta whose gift became a curse.

Twenty-one years ago, a massive leak pipeline passing through the community, connecting the south and north of Nigeria, triggered an explosion that ultimately resulted in the death of at least one thousand people, with hundreds more undocumented and tens of survivors with ghastly scars. Jesse: The Funeral That Never Ended, the rehashing of that tragic story as it happened in 1998, is produced by Arit Okpo, the host of CNN African Voices Changemakers.

“The documentary is the resurrection of an impeccably tragic story of a people who were hemmed in all sides by what should have been a blessing for them”, says Egbejule. “With all the stories coming from the Niger Delta, it was important for us to tell this one lest they stay forgotten and become drops in the ocean.”

It captures the crucial moments before and after the pipeline exploded, through the eyewitness accounts of survivors of the longlasting inferno, relatives of the dead, first responders at the scene and community leaders.

Narrated by Singto Saro-Wiwa whose father, the playwright and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged this month in 1995 by the Sani Abacha regime for his fervent criticism of the region’s exploitation, it also includes interviews with Nnimmo Bassey and the late Oronto Douglas, two contemporaries of the elder Saro-Wiwa.

The film threads the environmental degradation of the Niger Delta, the evolution of its people into collateral damage to continue the conversation on the region’s bittersweet relationship with crude oil. In Okpo’s words, “the story of Jesse is the story of the Niger-Delta; a people for whom a gift has become a tragedy, a story of lives changed forever and of scars that exist long after the rest of the world has moved on.”