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December 24, 1994

24/12/94

Dear Sis M,

Thanks a million for your diaries of August, November and early December. It was really wonderful to hear all about the Stockholm Award Ceremony from your careful, observant pen. Before I forget, I do not know who G is, and the connection with Channel 4. What’s he supposed to be doing? Could he be Godwin Poi (formerly OCA/UK [Ogoni Community Association/United Kingdom] Resident?) And what films is Glen now pro­ducing? I expect there’s the one for Canada, but for whom is the other one?

I may have missed it, because I have had my radio seized for some time now, but the RLA ceremony was not reported by the BBC African Service. I did hear Barika on the World Service Outlook programme but I had expected the African Service to talk about it.

I think that we’ve done pretty well with the NGOs. The thing now is to get the support of some governments. My brother tells me the Swedish Govt is pliable and so seems the Irish Govt. I believe that effort should now be concentrated on this. Govts. can raise the matter at the UN and at other fora. They can also assist us set up offices and provide funding. The Swedes & the Swiss are quite good at that sort of thing. You should also find time to visit Rudy Drummond who sits on the Nigerian desk and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London. These governments can also encour­age the media to support us—as they can discourage them. The British have been cool towards the Ogoni cause (and supportive of various mili­tary dictatorships in Nigeria). Junior Saro-Wiwa appears to have reached Prince Charles (through Olivia[1]) and since the monarchy has shares in Shell, his intervention could help. He (Prince Charles) was in school with William Boyd[2] and the latter might be prevailed upon to drop a note to the former?

I’m happy that you’ve met up with the family at Epsom. Maria [Saro-Wiwa’s estranged wife] was always a good “Catholic” girl and may easily have taken to Holy Orders if she had had the encouragement. I could have been a better husband to her if my life did not get caught up in so many wars. I was always very proud of her and anxious for her happiness. She has passed through a lot that is not pleasant (deaths, illnesses etc.), and what comfort you can give her will be very much appreciated by me. I’m happy that you are finding Zina pleasant. I wish her Sr. [her sister Noo] were not so withdrawn but I’m happy that she’s now at King’s College.[…]Yes, Tedum was a gem. The memory of him hurts me deep, real deep. May his soul rest in peace.

We’ve decided to challenge the setting up of the Tribunal in court. We may, we will lose the case, but it will serve to delay the kangaroo trial and win us the sympathy we need. Govt are aware of this and are already talk­ing of a secret trial. Whatever the case, locking me away for some time will not solve the Ogoni problem. I’m sure that we will win in due course and that my ideas on the structure of Nigeria will supervene.

Your letter did not worry about your health, so I must presume that everything is alright with you, and rejoice with you on that score. I’m happy that you are able to give so much time to the Ogoni cause.

I’m surprised that any Ogoni person should be worrying about where funds [RLA prize money] are to be paid to. None of these can take care of a huge sum of money. The only one who can use it properly for the proper cause is myself and I will definitely oppose anyone else, or any group tampering with whatever money comes to MOSOP. I think they all ought to know that I’ve funded and will continue to fund the struggle from my resources. And I’m the only one who can produce a properly audited account that will satisfy everyone. So if the matter ever arises, you should ask them to rely on my sense of probity, my reputation, and the fact that I have enough money of my own not to fool around with a common purse.

We may be requiring your assistance to get some U.S. dollars into Nigeria from my account in London. IF this need arises, my brother will contact you and please let him know if you can do it for us.[3] The fact is that we need to get proper naira value for any hard currency we have. We may have to bend the laws; after all, the laws are being bent to drive us to extinction.

Best wishes for the New Year.

From me,

Ken.


  1. Olivia Burnett, English girlfriend of Saro-Wiwa’s eldest son, Ken Wiwa. They mar­ried in 1996.
  2. British novelist and screen-writer, author of six novels, including A Good Man in Africa (1981), as well as numerous short stories and screenplays. He was born in Accra, Ghana in 1952 and grew up there and in Nigeria. He corresponded with Saro-Wiwa while the latter was in detention and composed the Introduction to the Longman 1994 reprint of Sozaboy.
  3. McCarron notes that this need did not arise

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