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July 02, 2009 – Comments (4)

Racism debate after Russian and Nigerian gas companies combine to form 'Nigaz'

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 1:19 AM on 02nd July 2009

When a $2.5billion international venture is being planned you might expect there to be hours of debate over what to call it.

Yet branding is not the forte of some companies, it seems.

Russian Energy giant Gazprom has inadvertently walked into a racism row with the announcement of its joint venture in Nigeria - Nigaz.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Nigerian counterpart Umaru Yar'Adua last week agreed the deal to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Africa's most populous nation.

The name is meant to be an amalgamation of 'Nigeria' and 'Gazprom', pronounced 'nye-gaz', but it can be read phonetically as an offensive term for those of black African origin.

'How more derogatory can it be. Let's join forces in making our government rename this,' said the creator of 'Nigerians No Nigaz', a group on Facebook.

Many comments on the blunder were from white bloggers.

But others mocked the mistake - one African-American suggested a playlist of songs from U.S. hip-hop artists for the Nigaz launch party.

One Nigerian in Lagos said: 'White people are making too much of this.

'As long as the Russians pay us, they can call it what they like.'


4 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On July 02, 2009 at 12:42 PM, russiangambit (28.89) wrote:

Russians are not sensitive to the issues of race discrimination because Russia has only one race. They discriminate against the jews and southern nationalities, but all of them belong to the white race.

Actually , in russian the word for black person is  "negr", which might also be considered offensive. But I personally think some people take this whole thing too far. It is time to stop talking about different races alltogether, then hopefully we'll all assimilite into a single race.

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#2) On July 02, 2009 at 1:42 PM, checklist34 (98.73) wrote:

gambit, your comment #1 is brilliant and exactly right. 

racism today, as in the us, in my view, owes its existence largely to the presence (often overbearing) of laws and so forth which discriminate (in "reverse") by race.

if people (society, media, lawmakers) would just let everybody be people and let everybody succeed or fail by their own talents, without constantly making an issue of race, nobody would care.

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#3) On July 02, 2009 at 1:56 PM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:

One Nigerian in Lagos said: 'White people are making too much of this. As long as the Russians pay us, they can call it what they like.'

I like the practical nature of this comment.

The Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world will never let an opportunity slip by to further their careers, try to stay relevant. People need to relax and watch Blazing Saddles.

If this company goes public and looks like a winner I am going to be interested, might even buy. We'll have to wait and see.

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#4) On July 02, 2009 at 4:32 PM, leohaas (29.81) wrote:

This one is in the same category as "Nova" and "Gerber".

The first one was not a success, but I think that had little to do with its name (which is only funny if you know some spanish), and more with the fact it was a lousy car.

The second is a very successful baby food brand, even though it is a french slang word for what you might do if you drink too much.

We'll see if they stick with this name, and what the implications are if they do...

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