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Do you remember Ken Saro-Wiwa?

15 years after his murder

On 10 November 1995 Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged with 8 other people at the end of a farce trial set up by a military court. He was killed for denouncing the activities of the oil companies, which damaged the Niger Delta, and the conditions of his people, the Ogonis, reduced to poverty and forced to flee.
Last year Shell was sentenced to compensate the activist's family and the Ogonis for the damage done to the river.

FOREST OF FLOWERS

This book of short tales expresses Saro-Wiwa’s anger at seeing multinational oil companies, like Shell, appropriating land from local people:

An old woman had hobbled up to him. My son, they arrived this morning and dug up my entire farm, my only farm. They mowed down the toil of my brows, the pride of the waiting months. They say they will pay me compensation. Can they compensate me for my labours? The joy I receive when I see the vegetables sprouting, God’s revelation to me in my old age? Oh my son, what can I do?

What answer now could he give her? I’ll look into it later, he had replied tamely.

Look into it later. He could almost hate himself for telling that lie. He cursed the earth for spouting oil, black gold, they called it. And he cursed the gods for not drying the oil wells. What did it matter that millions of barrels of oil were mined and exported daily, so long as this poor woman wept those tears of despair? What could he look into later? Could he make alternate land available? And would the lawmakers revise the laws just to bring a bit more happiness to these unhappy wretches whom the search for oil had reduced to an animal existence? They ought to send the oil royalties to the men whose farms and land were despoiled and ruined. But the lawyers were in the pay of the oil companies and the government people in the pay of the lawyers and the companies. So how could he look into it later?


NGOs and BBC targeted by Shell PR machine in wake of Saro-Wiwa death, by Eveline Lubbers and Andy Rowell in the Guardian, 9 November 2010

10 November 2010

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