Remembering Saro Wiwa and Ogoni Nine by Adeyemi Ahmed Abiodun

On November 10, 1995, Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others were summarily executed after a dubious military panel judgement.

Whenever I remember Ken Saro Wiwa, my heart bleeds. My heart bleeds at the injustice of his death and the remaining members of the Ogoni nine. My heart bleeds at the conspiracy of the military junta and the multinational oil company. Thinking about this uncommon hero who made the ultimate sacrifice, a question comes to mind: did Ken Saro Wiwa die in vain?

This is a question with two different answers.

No. Because his death further drew international attention to the environmental degradation, actions and inactions of Shell plc. After another major oil spill 14 years after his death (2008), in a milestone decision, Shell settled a law suit out of court by paying £55m to Bodo community, the largest of such kind of payment to an African community by a multinational company. Every of the villagers affected by that oil spill got N600,000 compensation. Meanwhile, in 2009, Shell paid $15.5m to the families of the Ogoni nine to settle a legal action over Shells involvement in the killing of the Ogoni nine.

No. Because, 22 years after his death, the environmental degradation still continues in Ogoni and the rest of the Niger Delta. Farms destroyed, waters polluted, the people still live in poverty. The region is still not developed; despite sitting on one of the largest deposit of riches in the world. How heartbreaking!

It would be befitting if the Nigerian government immortalize this legend by naming November 10 ‘The Ogoni Nine day’ and name a street after Ken Saro Wiwa in the federal capital. Interested state governments can follow suit by naming streets after him in their respective states.

‘… The labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain …’

Even if the government does not immortalize him, Ken Saro Wiwa will forever live in our hearts. HE WILL NEVER DIE.

 

Adeyemi Ahmed Abiodun,

Ilorin, Kwara State.

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