The Activism of Ken Saro Wiwa, 25 years After by Caleb Onyeabor

Newsie Events:- #Opinion

November 25, 1995, environmental activist and writer, Ken Saro Wiwa and nine others were hanged to death by the military government of General Sani Abacha.

Ken and his colleagues were framed for murder, hurriedly tried, and controversially sentenced to death, a decision that was frowned at by the international community and was later discovered to be a wrong one.

Ken never committed the crime he was accused of. There was no evidence whatsoever, wheresoever that he was responsible for the crime. In fact, he indeed committed a crime. His crime was to speak up against injustice and the environmental disaster inflicted on his people by the uncontrolled and poorly regulated exploration of oil.
Ogoni land, Ken’s land, has been devastated by the activities of oil multinational companies. Farmlands and rivers are seriously contaminated, depriving the people of their means of livelihood where majority are farmers and fishermen.

The environmental hazards go beyond the farms and the Rivers, as climate complications caused by the pollution in the land, have been fingered to be responsible for a range of illnesses and stillbirths. Women miscarried children in their wombs even as acid rain is common in the area. Ken’s crime was in championing the movement that demanded that the people of Ogoni deserves better. A goose that lays golden eggs ought to be taken care of. Unfortunately, Ken and the other members of the Ogoni nine were met with the sad reality of the Nigerian state. A state where activism is a crime, where demanding what’s good and due makes you an enemy of the state and her network of bourgeoisies and rentier clients.

The foreign bourgeois connived with their cronies in government together with the petit and comprador bourgeois class in Nigeria, they succeeded in getting rid of Ken and the other nine. 25 years later, Ogoni is still a shadow of itself despite many paper declaration of a clean-up and the people of Ogoni continue to live in misery and alienated from their artificial social contract with the Nigerian state.

25 years after the execution of Ken and the Ogoni 9, activism is still a dangerous path in the country. Speaking truth to power is still a big risk. Demanding good governance is met with barbaric and archaic resistance. Asking the Government to live up to her responsibilities is an automatic pathway to being labelled as an enemy of the state. 25 years after Ken, there have been many Kens. People who have lost their lives by committing the crime of asking government to do what it is supposed to do. In a very recent example, Dadiyata is still missing.

The people of Ogoni deserve environmental justice. Ken and the Ogoni 9 are heroes. 25 years after, the labors of these heroes, like all other Nigerian heroes, have been left close to being in vain.

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