Thousands attend memorial for Ken Saro-Wiwa
(GIN) — For his defense of the environment in the oil-rich lands in Nigeria’s southern tip, Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa paid the highest price on Nov. 10, 1995.
This week, Nigerians at home and abroad celebrated Saro-Wiwa’s life and courage in leading the Ogoni people to oppose the polluting oil extraction activities of Shell oil and other oil multinationals.
Uche Igwe was a university student when he learned Saro-Wiwa and his eight kinsmen were arrested and sentenced to death by a military tribunal. They were quickly executed despite international appeals for clemency.
“Saro-Wiwa was a gifted internationalist, eloquent speaker and prolific writer,” wrote Igwe in SaharaReporters online. “He brought the issues of environmental despoliation and economic deprivation of the Niger Delta people before the global radar screen. The phenomenal success he achieved through non-violence remains a model for (an) effective campaign in Africa.”
This week, thousands of Nigerians attended a memorial for Saro-Wiwa which included a candle light procession to the Port Harcourt prisons that once housed the Ogoni activists, followed by a trip to the Port Harcourt cemetery where the Ogonis were buried in shallow graves and soaked in acid for quick decomposition.
The Nigerian Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth called the memorial “a call to all activists to continue to preserve territories, support environmental rights defenders, resist corporate rule and seek justice for communities affected by dirty energy.”
Prize-winning activist Nnimmo Bassey wrote: “Since 1995, Nov. 10 has been marked as a day of solidarity with the people of Ogoniland and Nigeria as a whole as we continue to struggle against reckless extractive activities resulting in gross pollutions and destruction of lives and livelihoods.”
“That day has become the Global Day of Remembrance of Martyrs of Environmental Justice.”
A collection of Saro-Wiwa’s last writings is now available in paperback. The title is “Silence Would Be Treason.” It can be found on Amazon.