1911: Charles Justice 1831: Nat Turner

1995: Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Nine

November 10th, 2007 Headsman

On this date in 1995, author Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight fellow activists of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) were hanged by the Nigerian military junta in Port Harcourt.

Saro-Wiwa, the author of works such as Sozaboy, was already considered among Nigeria’s greatest writers before becoming an activist for the rights of his Ogoni people in the face of Nigeria’s lucrative and ecologically destructive Niger Delta oil trade.

Few benefits of that trade returned to the politically marginalized Ogoni, whose overwhelming response to MOSOP’s organizing soon began choking off oil exploitation in Ogoniland and brought a violent response from the Nigerian dictatorship — operating hand in glove with Shell Oil, as Saro-Wiwa himself noted in his closing remarks to the sham tribunal that convicted him of inciting a murderous riot.

I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The Company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learnt here may prove useful to it for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the Company has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of the Company’s dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished.

In my innocence of the false charges I face here, in my utter conviction, I call upon the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger delta, and the oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up now and fight fearlessly and peacefully for their rights. History is on their side. God is on their side. For the Holy Quran says in Sura 42, verse 41: “All those that fight when oppressed incur no guilt, but Allah shall punish the oppressor.” Come the day.

Though Saro-Wiwa’s hanging helped quell Ogoniland sufficiently for Shell to resume production, it left an opposition martyr. Saro-Wiwa’s prison diary was published shortly after his hanging; his son, journalist Ken Wiwa, has written a biography; and separate UK- and Canada-based organizations exist to carry on his memory and work.

The tensions left unresolved in the Delta, meanwhile, have spawned ever more militant resistance movements.

Also on this date

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Artists,Botched Executions,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Famous,Hanged,History,Intellectuals,Mass Executions,Murder,Nigeria,Pelf,Power,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Rioting,Ripped from the Headlines,Wrongful Executions

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12 Responses to “1995: Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Nine”

  1. 1
    Dr. Thinus Coetzee Says:

    Ken’s death was one of the greatest tragedies in Africa! I met Ken in the 80′s during a visit to South Africa. He was one of the best journalists in Africa and had a knack of “telling it like it is”, something that is sorely lacking today in jounalism. He will be remembered fondly by all in Africa.

  2. 2
    jeff Says:

    excellent choice. i love the quote from the qur’an. and yet . . . isn’t it kind of the ultimate in “state”-sanctioned violence? not that the qur’an is alone in this, by any stretch. monotheistic gods seem inevitably to be war gods . . .

  3. 3
    Akponi Barineka Says:

    Well, $hell and the Government and people of Nigeria have done what they think good their interest by killing KEN SARO WIWA, I think is’t not over yet,untill $hell is completely hold responsible to all the atrocities, and corrupt Nigerian selected,so called leaders revised that almalgameted teritory, there shall be no peace.My father always says, THAT ANY CHILD WHO DID NOT ALLOW HIS MOTHER TO SLEEP, HE WILL NOT SLEEP TOO .Because Nigeria have murdered peace, She shall not have peace. Niger-delta must push them until they will rethink of what happed to their groundnut paramey, their Cocoa house, and their Timber/Palm oil . Ogoni and the Niger-delta have been cheated for too long. Long live Ogoni people/Nation,Long live Niger-delta. I pray God Bless the soul of my cousin KEN SARO WIWA. Amen

  4. 4
    Apugu sunny Says:

    I think, no one is mrdered or held responsible for militancy nor boko haran, the same junta had removed uniform and organise their senses after killing trying to extinct ogonil people but like ken said, history will never forgive them

  5. 5
    ExecutedToday.com » 1990: Gideon Orkar, for a Nigerian coup Says:

    [...] ** Abacha is the guy who hanged Ogoni poet/activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. [...]

  6. 6
    ExecutedToday.com » Themed Set: Illegitimate Power Says:

    [...] From ancient Rome to revolutionary France to what’s hot off the presses, [...]

  7. 7
    ExecutedToday.com » 10 executions that defined the 1990s Says:

    [...] 3. Ken Saro-Wiwa [...]

  8. 8
    10 executions that defined the 1990s **Graphic images** | road2justice Says:

    [...] 3. Ken Saro-Wiwa [...]

  9. 9
    legborsi mtormabari Says:

    the executions of our heros is a reason why
    1) the ogonis should be one.
    2) we should help each other irrespective of ones surname, village, district etc.
    3) we should think inwards
    4) every one of us should think of what he/she will do to lift the name OGONI higher.
    5) we should show genue love for ourselves.
    6) we should stop killing ourselves with charms and
    margic.
    7) we should embraze educational and change our orietations
    .
    .

  10. 10
    legborsi mtormabari Says:

    1) The executions of our heroes is a reason why
    1) the ogonis should be one.
    2) we should help each other irrespective of one’s surname, village, district etc.
    3) we should think inwards
    4) every one of us should think of what he/she will do to lift the name OGONI higher.
    5) We should show genue love for ourselves.
    6) We should stop killing ourselves with charms and
    magic.
    7) We should embraced education and change our orientations
    .
    .

  11. 11
    First Peoples Worldwide » Supreme Court Decision Threatens Human Rights, Protects Corporations Says:

    [...] rampage culminated in the execution of the Ogoni Nine, a group of activists including famed writer Ken Saro-Wiwa who were hanged after being convicted by a corrupt military [...]

  12. 12
    CANRAD Perspectives on Reconciliation: Lessons from South Africa and the USA | Star Thrower Says:

    […] (I hate to use cartoon when the topic is this gruesome) depicting the execution by hanging of Ken Saro-Wina and 3 fellow activists […]

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