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Mtunzini used
as film set
for BBC drama
Mtunzini was converted into a film set for a few weeks for a BBC drama production about the kidnapping of foreign workers in the oil-rich Niger Delta in West Africa.
The series Blood and Oil is expected to be broadcast on British television in September 2009 and stars some of the most acclaimed emerging Black TV stars in the United Kingdom, including Naomie Harris who starred in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
The Umlalazi Nature Reserve served as the principal location with the lagoon car park being totally transformed into an African fishing village.
The boat launch slipway become an oil drilling rig and the Inkhwazi campsite was filled with Hollywood-style trailers for the stars, their wardrobe, props and catering tents.
Other locations used were the Raphia Palm Natural Monument and Twinstreams Environmental Education Centre.
Chike Okonkwo Naomie Harris The stars of Blood and Oil:
Chike Okonkwo, left, and Naomie Harris.
Rebels in the Niger Delta
The oil-rich Niger Delta should be paradise. It is a maze of waterways, lush vegetation as well as being incredibly rich in minersals. However since the discovery of oil there 50 years, this marshy coastline has become a swamp-infested nightmare.
A sweaty, heaving melting-pot of 30 million people from 40-odd ethnic groups, speaking more than 200 different languages, the Niger Delta is today a polluted and over-exploited industrial site. Regular oil spills make fishing and farming impossible, flares burn constantly and the air is filled with soot.
At independence Nigeria expected its potential oil revenues to launch a vibrant economy - the envy of all emerging African states. Instead it has become the perfect launchpad for currupt politicians and greedy multinationals.
The Delta today is a danger zone of armed gangs, kidnappings and chaos. Oil companies and the people who work for them, are the main target. In the past few years shadowy militant groups like the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) have been invloved in the kidnapping and extortion of foreign workers. Almost all of those kidnapped are returned unharmed once a hefty ranson has been paid.

Does this sound like Mtunzini?

 Hurray for Hollywood!

Christmas came early in the summer of 2008. Mtunzini's economy benefitted by an injection of more than R250 000 during November/December 2008 when the Umlalazi lagoon and parts of the coastal forest doubled as a West African fishing village for a BBC drama series. All the cast and crew were housed in local accommodation establishments - with the stars monopolising the four-star One-on-Hely Guest House. The Tradewinds Country Inn was taken over as the logistics centre and local crafts people were used as set builders and extra crew.
Much material used for sets was sourced locally and Road Island Service Station provided all the set's fuel requirements.
Hurray for Hollywood!
To view the gallery below, move cursor over the pictures to enlarge them.
Photography: Lorna Rautenbach,
Daff Untiedt & Steve Untiedt
The set begins to take shape in the lagoon car park The rear view reveals all Traditional African building techniques add a touch of authenticity to the village The magic of movies: The car park is nowhere to be seen Fibreglass dugouts to complete the picture of a Niger Delta fishing village The transformation is complete
Pipelines, offices and warehouses take shape on the Umlalazi River The launching site begins to look like an oil depot A section of props for the oil rig scene is moved into place near the mangroves A trailer park for the stars to relax between shoots The assistant director rehearses with a group of extras for a crowd scene shot at Mick's Park, Twinstreams The Eco-House at Twinstreams  gets  distressed as a clinic in the Niger Delta


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