Today, the world remembers the life and times of Ken Saro-Wiwa who passed away on this day twenty years ago (November 10, 1995).
A writer, filmmaker and environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s name has gone down in the history books as a man of valour and principle. As the voice of the Ogoni people, an ethnic minority in Rivers State, he championed the cause against environmental degradation of his homeland by multinational petroleum companies. He was also very vocal against the unjust acts of the military government at the time, leading to his unfortunate demise with other members of the Ogoni 9.
Born on October 10, 1941, Kenule “Ken” Beeson Saro-Wiwa was the son of Ogoni chieftain, Jimi Wiwa. As an excellent student, he graduated from the University of Ibadan with a degree in English and became a teaching assistant in the University of Lagos shortly after.
Saro-Wiwa eventually returned to serve his homeland as the Civilian Administrator for Bonny, Rivers and the state’s Regional Commissioner for Education after the Nigerian Civil War, during which he was a strong supporter of the Biafran movement.
In the early 1990s, he became a primary champion for the rights of the Ogoni people, becoming a founding member of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). The group is well-known for pushing forward the Ogoni Bill of Rights which dictated their demands including increased autonomy for the Ogoni people and a fairer share of the proceeds of oil extraction. In 1993, the movement also spearheaded a march of approximately 300,000 Ogoni people through four Ogoni urban centres. This captured significant international attention, highlighting the tribe’s plight at the time.
We salute a fallen Nigerian soldier whose efforts and legacy will always remain in our hearts.