This week’s Retro Edition piece is taken from the ‘Whistle blowers’ series. In particular, the struggle of Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni people.
Oftentimes, but for the bravery of Whistle blowers, a lot of grievous practices in many different industries eg the Tobacco industry, would never have been revealed. It therefore goes without saying, that ‘Whistle blowers’ are the infantry right on the frontlines of the battle for accountability, an intrinsic element of any true Democracy and Ethical Society.
For this reason, we decided to honour these solitary warriors such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and including our own here at home in Africa, like Nigerian Activitist Ken Saro Wiwa who have risked life and limb in their quest to focus our attention on their worthy causes.
Ken Saro Wiwa & The Ogoni People
Kenule Beeson “Ken” Saro-Wiwa (10 October 1941 – 10 November 1995) was a Nigerian writer, television producer, environmental activist, and winner of the Right Livelihood Award and the Goldman Environmental Prize.
Saro-Wiwa was a member of the Ogoni people, an ethnic minority in Nigeria whose homeland, Ogoniland, in the Niger Delta has been targeted for crude oil extraction since the 1950s and which has suffered extreme environmental damage from decades of indiscriminate petroleum waste dumping.
Initially as spokesperson, and then as president, of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Saro-Wiwa led a nonviolent campaign against environmental degradation of the land and waters of Ogoniland by the operations of the multinational petroleum industry, especially the Royal Dutch Shell Company.
He was also an outspoken critic of the Nigerian government, which he viewed as reluctant to enforce environmental regulations on the foreign petroleum companies operating in the area.
At the peak of his non-violent campaign, he was tried by a special military tribunal for allegedly masterminding the gruesome murder of Ogoni chiefs at a pro-government meeting, and hanged in 1995 by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. His execution provoked international outrage and resulted in Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations for over three years.
Saro-Wiwa’s death was a sombre reminder of the risks taken by the Whistle blower because the story doesnt always have a happy ending. We nevertheless gain both wisdom and strength from this travesty, and trust that future generations may learn from it.
For more on the Ken Saro Wiwa story, check out the links below to our selected documentary, ‘The Case Against Shell: The True Cost Of Oil’, together with a Washington Post expose on Ken’s tragic and untimely death.
Links & Credits
Documentary : The True Cost Of Oil : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgAmc3hr2ps