Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Legacy

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Two stories on the legacy of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the human rights trial against Shell’s action in Ogoniland and their complicity in the execution of the Ogoni 9.

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A Writer’s Violent End, and His Activist Legacy is a report from the PEN International which took place last weekend. Many people forget Ken was also a writer and journalist as well as an activist so it was right that he should be honoured here. Listen to the tribute here including audio from Ken during a protest march on Ogoni Day.

The second article asks whether “Oil is worth more than blood in the Niger Delta?” The answer is a resounding YES for the multinationals operating in the region and the Nigerian Federal and the Niger Delta states governments. As Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr explains this was a dark time but still very little has changed since then.

It was a pretty dark time, and you felt as if the world had collapsed. We put all pressure on the Nigerian government, and Shell was washing its hands. It felt that no one was willing to take responsibility for the horrendous injustice. My father was hanged for a crime he didn’t commit. The company was complicit in my father’s execution, and they washed their hands. It seemed like a shot in the dark. It is painful that no one wants to face up to what they did.

If Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr wins this case it will be the first time that a multinational corporation has been held to account for human rights violations overseas. Its taken more than 10 years to bring the case to trial which is a miracle in itself and speaks to the perseverance and belief of the plaintiffs. Whatever happens in the case, this one like the case against Chevron will open doors for others across the world to bring rampaging corrupt corporations to account

And this is a time when transnational corporations are being put on notice. A clear signal is being sent to them that the world is no longer their oyster. Neocolonialism is over. They cannot run roughshod over the world for the sake of the almighty profit, conducting business around the globe without regard for U.S. law and the law of nations. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is presently investigating Shell for engaging in graft in Nigeria, a violation the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In February, the Halliburton spinoff KBR admitted to paying bribes to secure contracts related to the construction of a liquefied natural gas facility in Nigeria.

Listen to the whole tribute to Ken – Standing Before History: Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa”