Ken Saro Wiwa and the Rossport Gas protests - Political Quote

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ken Saro Wiwa and the Rossport Gas protests

We have all heard of the Ken Saro Wiwa especially in relation to the Rossport controversy but if we are honest what do we know about the man and his life?

Ken Saro Wiwa was the son of Chief Jim Wiwa of the Ogoni people, an ethnic minority whose homelands in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Saro Wiwa was a author, television producer, and environmental activist who campaigned against the environmental damage being done to the area by the oil industry. The oil-rich homeland of the Ogoni people has been subject to oil extraction since the 1950s.

Saro Wiwa served initially as spokesperson, and then as President, of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People and led a nonviolent campaign against environmental damage associated with the operations of multinational oil companies including Shell.

Saro Wiwa feel foul of the government because he had strongly defended the rights of the Ogoni people of the Niger delta and criticised the government’s partnership with the oil companies and in particular Shell. Because this oppostion was damaging the oil industry and thus the government’s pocket Ken Saro Wiwa was imprisoned in 1994 by order of Nigeria's then dictator Sani Abacha on a bogus murder charge.

Despite widespread international protests, Ken Saro Wiwa, with other eight Ogoni rights activists, was hanged after a show trial in Port Harcourt, on 10 November 1995.

The execution of Ken Saro Wiwa resulted in the suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth of Nations and United States lead many countries in imposing economic sanctions on Nigeria.

Following nearly 16 years of military rule in Nigeria, a new constitution was adopted in 1999, and a peaceful transition to civilian government was completed and sanctions have been lifted.
In this, the 11th anniversary of his execution, all over the world, Ken Saro Wiwa is remembered but what is his legacy?

What can we learn from his life and death and should it affect our views on the Corrib Gas protests?

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