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"The industrialization of Africa by leaders acting without environmental conscience will be the ruin of us." ~Marc Ona Essangui. Much like its fellow nations of Africa, Gabon faces corruption within its own borders. It has an economy that is higher than any other country in Sub-Saharan Africa, and contains a vast segment of the Congo Rainforest, the second largest rainforest in the world. Due to the government's greed and lacking of an environmental conscience, Gabon signed a deal in 2006 with CMEC, a Chinese machinery company, which included a large road, a massive damming project of the Kongou Falls, an iron ore mine, and a deep water shipping port facility. This contract was created in secrecy, without acknowledging the nation's citizens. Then came Marc Ona Essangui, a forty six year old man who is the president of the environmental groups Brainforest and Environment Gabon. Although he did not fully terminate the project, Essangui greatly made a difference by affecting the individuals, the community, and the future of his country, for the Congo Rainforest is still thriving today.

Not only would this project destroy Gabon's natural beauty, but the entire process was to be completed without consent or even notification of the Gabonese people. Marc Ona Essangui, however, discovered the situation and made it clear to the public what was going on in their nation. Essangui ventured across his country, raising awareness and telling all who would listen about the CMEC mining plan. He told residents about how the project would lead to more deforestation, water resources becoming impure, and that overall pollution would increase drastically if the plan were to be completed. If the citizens were not shaken up by these facts, they became clearly on Essangui side when he mentioned Gabon would be receiving only ten percent of the profits, while CMEC was granted a twenty five year tax break as well. Marc Ona Essangui alerted his people about the crisis at hand, influencing them to act now or suffer the consequences.

Although Essangui acknowledged his fellow people about the changes in their homeland, there were some issues that he took upon himself to solve. With eighty five percent of Gabon covered in rainforest, the country contains one of the richest ecosystems on the planet. Home to seven hundred different bird species, twenty thousand lowland gorillas, sixty thousand forest elephants, and a unique hippo species that swims in the tide, the Congo Rainforest is filled with many natural wonders of the animal kingdom. To help preserve these magnificent creatures, Marc Ona Essangui convinced the government to relocate their road to the mining site, for it went directly through a prime area of forest life. This action caused for a decrease in illegal poaching and deforestation, for the cleared pathway in this location created easier access for such illegal activities. Also, Essangui negotiated the damming of the Kongou Falls, a national treasure, down ninety percent. Essangui proved to the world his commitment to saving the rainforest, and did so under his own power.

As for the future of the project, Essangui also demonstrated how influential one man can be to his country. Believing that the deal was lob-sided enough as it was, Marc Ona Essangui forced Gabon to rid of CMEC's tax break in its entirety. He raised awareness not only by notifying others about the secret mining plan, but also through his actions behind the scenes. His nation did not respond kindly to his acts, however. On three separate occasions, Essangui was denied access to leave his nation without any form of explanation. His office was also broken into and reportedly robbed of documents. Lastly, he was arrested in 2008 for being accused of possession of documents that provoke state rebellion, which resulted in the police detaining him for five days. Marc Ona Essangui took his punishments without retaliation, which brought international attention to the issue. Essangui established that a government cannot simply do whatever they want, for the people deserve a choice in the actions that take place in their country.

To conclude, the Gabonese mining project has been delayed so drastically that CMEC is reconsidering whether or not they wish to continue with it. Unfortunately, the plan will most likely be completed either with CMEC or another company such as Vale; a company from Brazil, for Gabon is being persistent with the development of the plan. In 2009, Marc Ona Essangui won a Goldman prize for his work, which included a one hundred fifty thousand dollar grant. Essangui decided to use that money to better the lives of forest communities, once more making Gabon a better place to live. Marc Ona Essangui made a difference for country, reaching his fullest potential and leading a good life no matter what obstacles stood in his path.