Jun 30, 2011

Ogoni: Saro Wiwa Sculpture Finds New Home in London

Sculpture of stainless steel bus adorned with Ken Saro Wiwa’s writings is to remain in London.

Below is an article published by Voice Online:


Saro-Wiwa was executed by the Nigerian Government in 1995 alongside eight other activists who had campaigned against the social and environmental damage caused by Shell's oil drilling business in the Niger Delta.


To mark the 10-year anniversary of his death, artist Sokari Douglas Camp CBE was commissioned as part of human rights organisation Platform's Remember Saro-Wiwa project, funded by Arts Council England and the Roddick Foundation.The life-sized stainless steel bus, decorated with the campaigner’s writings, will now be permanently based at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, in Tottenham, north London.It will form part of a year-long programme of artistic and educational activities at the community hub – the dream of the late Tottenham MP Bernie Grant, one of Britian's first black MPs.


Nigerian-born Douglas Camp said: “Ken's art was to tell vivid stories. Some of you may know his novel Sozaboy. It was written in pigeon about the Civil War in Nigeria in the Sixties. He wrote in everyday language, because he wanted to be read widely; he wanted us to become aware of our decisions; he wanted us to become aware of the impacts of decisions made for us. He wanted us to think.


“Later, in his fight for justice over the oil industry, his environmental concerns weren't just about his people, the Ogoni, but about the world. He saw the plight of the Ogoni in a truly international context, with international implications. And he communicated it. That was his genius as a campaigner. And for that he lost his life.”


Sawo-Wiwa’s widow, Maria, was a special guest at a special event on Saturday, June 25, to unveil the “living memorial”. Poet Zena Edwards performed and Ben Amunwa, a campaigner on oil and human rights in Nigeria, gave a talk.


John Baraldi, chief executive of the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, said: “We are extremely happy that we will be the new home for Sokari Douglas Camp’s incredible sculpture.

“Bernie Grant worked tirelessly to defend the rights of all sections of our society, and was a passionate advocate for social justice, so the fit between artwork and space could not be better. We hope to see the bus become the focus for a sculpture park here.”