Ken Saro-Wiwa

From ArticleWorld

Ken Saro-Wiwa was an acclaimed environmentalist, writer, businessman, and television producer from Nigeria. Much of work centered on the call for fair treatment of his native people, the Ogoni.


Born Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa on October 10, 1941, Saro-Wiwa was a member of the Ogoni people, an ethnic minority in the African country of Nigeria. In the 1950s, international oil companies, such as Shell, took a special interest in the homelands of the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta.

Saro-Wiwa founded the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. As president, he encouraged the people to stage peaceful protests of the oil companies. In 1990, MOSOP wrote up The Ogoni Bill of Rights, which called for the autonomy of Ogoni people, for the people to collect a fair share of the oil monies, and for the oil companies to pay reimbursement to environmental damage to the land.

Arrests and death

In 1992, Saro-Wiwa was held in prison for months without a trial by the Nigerian military government. He was again arrested in January 1993 for leading a peaceful march of 300,000 Ogoni people – more than half of the population. After the march, international oil company Shell ceased its operations on the Niger Delta.

In May 1994, Saro-Wiwa was arrested for a final time and charged with inciting the murders of four Ogoni elders who were believed to be friendly with the Nigerian military government. Saro-Wiwa denied the allegation, but he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

On November 10, 1995, despite the attention of human rights groups across the world, Saro-Wiwa was hanged by the Nigerian military government under the direction of General Sani Abacha. Nigeria was immediately suspended from the Commonwealth of Nation. The association includes Indian, Canada, Australia, and most other countries with a history of British colonialism.

Partial list of work

  • Sozaboy: A Novel in Rotten English, novel
  • On a Darkling Plan, personal war diaries
  • Basi & Co., television series