Ogoni: Saro-Wiwa Takes Up Hanged Father
Ken Saro-Wiwa, eldest son and namesake of the activist whose hanging in 1995 made Nigeria a pariah state, has just taken up a job as special assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo on peace, conflict resolution and reconciliation.
"Being my father's son has a number of implications and one of them is that I have to play a role in this country. I felt the time was right to move forward in my life and take that place," 37-year-old Saro-Wiwa said in an interview on Thursday.
Africa's most populous country was ruled by army dictator Sani Abacha when the elder Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists were hanged over what were widely seen as trumped-up murder charges. Nigeria was thrown out of the Commonwealth over the executions.
Obasanjo came to power in a 1999 transition to democracy. Diplomats say his choice of Saro-Wiwa, whose name has tremendous resonance in Nigeria, as his special assistant is a measure of how far the country has come since 1999.
Yet Saro-Wiwa's decision to take the job is surprising, not least because in the troubled oil-producing Niger Delta, most people still distrust the government.
"My father left a legacy of trust. Just because I'm working for the government doesn't mean I'm going to abandon my father's legacy," Saro-Wiwa said