Ogoni: Remembering Human Rights Hero Ken Saro-Wiwa
Ken Saro-Wiwa, Photo Courtesy: Science for Human Rights/Flickr
Nigerian author, environmental and human rights activist and former member of the UNPO Presidency Ken Saro-Wiwa was sentenced to death and executed in 1995. Being a thorn in the side of the infamous Abacha regime because of his fearless activism for the Ogonis’ rights, a special Nigerian tribunal had unfairly tried him on trumped-up charges of having murdered four Ogoni Chefs. The court’s decision was highly criticized by the international community and human rights organizations. Even though Ken Saro-Wiwa, who has devoted most of his life to protecting the Ogoni people and to shedding light on environmental degradation in the Ogoni region, may no longer be with us, his legacy lives on.
Below is an article published by Information Nigeria:
Over 20 years after the execution of the environmental crusader, Ken Saro Wiwa. His life and death were a service to the Nigerian people, especially for the people of Ogoni for whom he fought.
Here are 7 things about the great man you should not fail to know:
1. Kenule “Ken” Beeson Saro Wiwa was born on October 10, 1941 in Bori, Niger Delta to an Ogoni Chief, Jim Wiwa.
2. He had his secondary school education in Government College, Umuahia, got a scholarship to read English at the University of Ibadan and served as a teaching assistant in University of Lagos.
3. He was a successful businessman, a television producer, a writer and an environmental activist. His satirical television series, Basi and Company, was popular; his most famous novel, Sozaboy: A Novel in Rotten English, was well-read; and he did really well in his real estate and retail businesses.
4. It was his environmental activism that got him dismissed from the Rivers State cabinet as the Regional Commissioner for Education.
5. Ken was one of the earliest members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), advocating for the rights of the Ogoni people by speaking against the environmental degradation caused by the oil explorations of Shell Company and demanding a fair share of the proceeds of oil extraction, and remediation of environmental damage to Ogoni lands.
6. He led several peaceful protests in Ogoni and spoke against the Abacha-led military regime. His son, Ken Jr., had a troubled relationship with him, saying martyrs often sacrificed their children for the sake of peace. But they later made peace when he was arrested.
7. After several months in prison and an unjust trial where witnesses who had been bribed testified against him and his colleagues, Ken and eight other Ogoni leaders (Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine) where by killed by hanging on November 10, 1995. Their deaths received international condemnation and causes Nigeria’s expulsion from Commonwealth for 3 years.