Bronze / 2016 / Press / Feature Story

Essence du Bénin

  • Prize
    Bronze in Press/Feature Story
  • Photographer
    Javier Corso

In Benin, a country bordering Nigeria, a vast network of illegal trafficking of Nigerian petrol exists. Benin does not have enough petrol stations to cover the population. It also cannot compete with Nigerian petrol prices, as Nigeria is the leading producer of petrol in Africa. From this need emerged a lucrative business opportunity. Four decades ago, Beninese traffickers started to buy petrol in Nigeria to sell it in roadside stalls around the country, at a price lower than it is in the stations. The trafficking bosses have reached a lot of power in Benin. Politicians and police have surrendered to them. Many women, people with disabilities, university students and even children depend on this activity. The streets of Porto Novo, the capital, are full of traffickers who transport drums of petrol by motorbike. They are known as “human bombs”, because they often have accidents when the petrol they transport explodes.

Javier Corso is a photographer, founder and director at OAK stories. His photographic work originates from the need to communicate about human condition through means of local, smaller-scale stories.

Corso began working as a storyteller in 2011, publishing in media like National Geographic, AlJazeera, TIME Lightbox or GEO. Among the cultural centers that have exhibited his projects, the following stand out; The Cervantes Institute in New York and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. His work has been recognized by the International PHOTON Festival, Prix de la Photographie Paris, Moscow International Foto Awards and the World Reporter Award, among others.