Last writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa

Protest in Ogoniland In 1995, the Nigerian military regime executed the celebrated author, indigenous activist and environmental campaigner Ken Saro-Wiwa together with 8 other Ogoni activists for their opposition to the activities of petroleum multinationals in the Niger Delta. (In 2009, Shell settled out of court with their families for over $15 million.) During his detention, Saro-Wiwa sent a series of letters and poems to Irish solidarity activist Sr Majella McCarron, who gave them to NUI Maynooth in 2011 on foot of the contribution of Maynooth students to the Shell to Sea campaign in Erris.

These letters are now available free (but donations welcome!) in a new, expanded edition: Silence would be treason: last writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa (edited by Íde Corley, Helen Fallon and Laurence Cox; Dakar / Bangalore: Daraja / CODESRIA 2013 ; ebook Daraja 2017). Silence Would Be Treason collects Saro-Wiwa’s last letters and poems together with introductory essays (mine, on social movements in the Niger Delta, is available here). I have written a short introduction to the book for The Ecologist. It has been widely reviewed, including by Biodun Jefiyo for OpenDemocracy, by Nnimmo Bassey for Sahara Reporters, by Mildred Barya for African Writers Trust, by Patrick Naagbanton for The Neighbourhood (Port Harcourt), by Sarah Shoraka for Red Pepper and by Meredith Hicks for Metro Eireann among many others (22 reviews and book notices at last count). Royalties from the print version, and now donations, are going towards a Ken Saro-Wiwa Postgraduate Award at Maynooth, for work in the spirit of Ken Saro-Wiwa.

The Ken Saro-Wiwa audio archive at NUIM hosts a series of interviews with Sr Majella, the book’s editors and Saro-Wiwa’s brother Owens Wiwa covering a wide range of movements and experiences. My interview, on Ken Saro-Wiwa and resource struggles, is here. This article compares the politics of repression in the struggle against Shell in the Niger Delta and in Rossport / Erris, NW Ireland.