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August 15, 1994

15/8/94

12 noon

Dear Sr.,

A million thanks for your letters. They are so entertaining, so encour­aging, & they give me those intimate details of my family which no one gives. God bless you & keep you for us!

And you cannot imagine the relief I got from the money you sent. I was at my wits end. My resources are not limitless. They’ve begun to floun­der. I’ve spent ever so much on the Ogoni. Runs into millions of naira. And now, something will have to happen. Otherwise I’ll begin to sell my property. Just too bad for the youngest Saro-Wiwa [Kwame] whose birth am so happy about! I know that my daughters are the ones who will per­petuate my memory (apart from the books, of course,) but I have a sense of balance & am not willing to increase the number of disadvantaged in the world—women being so, most unhappily & something we must sort out too! More battles to fight!

So thanks for the cash. God bless the giver(s).

I don’t know if you did see Sunray. The girl, Meesnan Akekue whom I trained—she worked with me for 2 years & I gave her a bursary for an MA at Uniport [University of Port Harcourt]. She has been writing some good pieces on the soldiers in Ogoni villages. Which solves your problem since I could not well know what’s going on from here.

After my piece in the Sunday Guardian [the Guardian, Nigeria] of 31stJuly—did you see it?—the Administrator had my computer and radio confiscated. I was happy the piece rattled them so much. I miss the computer, but I feel really good that they’ve been so miffed!

The newspapers and magazines have been most supportive & am really happy about that too. The power of print! As a result of Rogerson Ake’s article (a second, more devastating one is due soon), the beating of Nick Ashton-Jones[1] & probably my article, the ISTF [Internal Security Task Force] & Major Okuntimo[2] have been queried by Army HQ. I hope he gets it this time round. The Sadist!

There are rumours that we might get charged to court this week & remanded in prison custody. This will be much better that the present bru­tal detention where I remain incommunicado.

I hope you did get the letter of recommendation to UNPO & the Bodyshop. I’ll be expecting you to carry the Ogoni banner in Europe in the next week.[3]

It’s going to be a difficult battle, this Ogoni struggle. But I’ve not had any doubts at all of success. I’ve recently gotten even more confident as incarceration has drawn me nearer to God. He works in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform. What doubt can there now be of the Ogoni angst in Nigeria? I’ve even begun to think of Ogoni asking for a UN Protectorate status so that we can be protected against Shell & the other Nigerian groups. A line I may pursue if only to scare Nigerian rulers.

I hope that Ogoni presence in Geneva this month will yield some atten­tion from the UN Human Rights Commission. That should be good for us.

I expect this letter to get to you in Europe. Please take care of yourself and do contact my eldest boy. He’s a fine fellow—well educated but in the mould of an English gentleman (pity). He’s slow & deliberate & cannot really understand what the barbarians are doing down here. He’d like to know how else he can help. International Pen[4] might find you of value before literary audiences so contact them.

I’m having to write a dozen or more notes & letters to my staff etc. Wherever you may be, please remember that there’s someone here who appreciates your goodness, your works. I’m sure my daughter Singto will always remember you too. She’s really intelligent. I’m not surprised she was watching you so carefully. Three or four years back, she wrote a beautiful 20 page book on computer on her dog. It’s a literary masterpiece which I hope to publish. She’s observant & thinks for herself. I’m proud of her. As of her Sr. [sister] Adele who lives in England. She’s extremely gentle and sweet—not as clever as Singto but gentility is a great asset. With Zina (the first of the twin girls), I have a real team of capable women, if they do not meet & get enslaved by some mean men!

Keep writing Sr. M & God bless you a million times.

Sincerely,

Ken.


  1. British environmentalist and co-author with Susie Arnott and Oronto Douglas of The Human Eco-Systems of the Niger Delta (1998), a handbook of Environmental Rights Action (ERA). He conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the Niger Delta area for the Africa Development Bank and Federal Environmental Protection Agency in 1994.
  2. Major Paul Okuntimo of Rivers State Internal Security Task Force.
  3. McCarron was due to return to Ireland the day after this letter was written. She had not renewed her contract at the University of Lagos where she had been teaching for 13 years.
  4. International PEN is a global community of writers who promote freedom of expression in literature.

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August 15, 1994 Copyright © 2017 by Text, letters and images: Copyright © 2013 John Paul II Library, Maynooth University, Republic of Ireland. Ken Saro-Wiwa’s poems: © 2013 Ken Saro-Wiwa Estate. All Rights Reserved.

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