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February 7, 1995

Maynooth University Ken Saro-Wiwa Archive.

7/02/95

Dear Sr. M,

Greetings. And thanks for your information sent by phone through the Lagos office. That came through two days ago. And I was pleased to hear about the interviews you’ve done and that Trócaire have taken over the publicity of the Ogoni issue. What do you spend your time doing now?

We were at the Tribunal yesterday. Had the distinction of riding in a Black Maria. Only five of us were charged. I, Ledum Mitee & B. Kiobel[1] who were said to have procured & counselled 2 others (charged with us) to murder the four people. 4 charges, 1 charge each death. The Ogoni people were kept far from the trial room. They massed along the road somewhere and made sure that we heard them singing and cheering. My father and mum & wife were allowed into the room. Somehow, I enjoyed the dramatic aspects of it. The prosecutor was not very ready and we were to filibuster. We’ve made up our minds to drag the trial out for as long as possible. Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana and Olisa Agbakoba are represent­ing us. Ledum will represent himself. It’s going to be some fun.

Shell have at last accepted publicly the responsibility for devastating the delta (they prefer the word, “polluting”). And have set aside 2m USD for a massive study of the area. The sum is too small, & is to be adminis­tered by a Steering Committee headed by Gamaliel Onosode—a man of honour, Chairman of both Dunlop & Cadbury of Nigeria. MOSOP will be responding to all that. In their press release, Brian Anderson [Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company][2] says, “It is impor­tant to have a comprehensive and independent survey on Nigeria’s delta region. Recent politicised and emotive campaigning has clouded some very important issues concerning the development of this region”. I consider this development a victory for the Ogoni people & MOSOP.

You may have heard of my having won the 1995 Goldman Prize awarded by the Goldman Environmental Foundation of California and worth 60,000.00 USD. Quite a welcome development. It will be officially announced on April 17.

An aspect of the trial is, we’re trying to obtain bail or at least to move from Bori Camp to the wretched PH [Port Harcourt] prison so at least to be away from the control of the military. That comes up on 21st February.

I hope that you can send or fax me any articles which appear in the dailies out there. I understand that there have been 2 things in both the Observer & the Guardian of London. The radio waves were full of the trial on the 6th of February. The BBC World Service made it the first item in their news bulletins from 1pm till 10pm or so and there was an interview on the NewsHour programme that night and the following morning. The Voice of America also carried it fully. I heard myself described as “renowned writer and environmentalist”. Very supportive, I think, and I hope it goes on that way. When do you return?

Best wishes. And let me hear from you.

Ken.


  1. Barinem Kiobel, one of the “Ogoni nine” who were executed by the Nigerian mili­tary government on 10th November 1995.
  2. Since 1994, he has also been Chairman of Shell Nigeria.

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February 7, 1995 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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