Oct 19, 2010

Ogoni: Oronto Douglas Among World’s Influential Thinkers

Oronto Douglas, a Nigerian human rights attorney, who fights for social justice in Nigeria and defended Ogoni leader Ken Saro Wiwa in court, was named one of the world’s most influential thinkers. His listing will hopefully increase international attention to the ongoing oil exploitation taking place in Ogoniland.

Below is an article published by Next:

Environmentalist and special adviser to the President on Research, documentation and Strategy, Oronto Douglas has been named among the 20 most influential writers, thinkers, and activists in the world.

Mr Douglas was listed in a recent book “Political Awakenings: Conversations with History” by Harry Kreiser the Executive Director of the Institute of International Studies, University of California. Mr Douglas was selected with 19 others, from 485 interviews of people which the book described as “distinguished men and women who by the power of their intellect and strength of character shape the world.” Mr Douglas made the Science, Food and The Environment: Movement for Justice category which comprised select individuals that have challenged corporate power which seeks to disproportionately reap the benefits of science and technology to the detriment of the society.

The other two other individuals listed in the same category with Mr Douglas are Michael Pollan who has in the past 20 years written books and articles about places where the human and natural world intersect, and Eva Harris, a molecular biologist, who implements a program to distribute DNA technology to third world clinics to fight diseases.

Reacting to this listing, Mr Douglas stated, “I am motivated essentially by the fact that every human being ought to make a contribution towards human progress. We are not just on this planet to eat, sleep, and then we die. I think we came because we have a contribution to make.

“My little contribution in the area of environmental human rights is to further the whole debate about our progress.” Douglas is co-founder of Nigeria’s foremost environmental advocacy group, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN). He served as one of the lawyers on the defence team for the Ogoni leader, Ken Saro Wiwa, who was executed by late Head of State, Sani Abacha.

He is also the author of several works, including the groundbreaking Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights, Oil in the Niger Delta, which he coauthored with another activist, Ike Okonta.