Sunday, July 5, 2009

Russian and Nigerian gas companies combine to form 'Nigaz' WTF?

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

Gazprom has launched a new venture with Nigeria - the unfortunately-named 'Nigaz'

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.'

BBC Article on NIGAZ

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