Dear Sr. M,
Thanks a lot for your diary from 6th Dec to 10th January. It was, as usual, a treat, a mine of information. Somehow, I never got the attachments. I thought I’d get the Guardian article, the Wole Soyinka piece and anything else of importance but I was not so lucky.
I’m really happy that you are finding so much help for the Ogoni people. Somehow, it’s exhilarating to find a specific assignment for oneself— something that can last a lifetime, which is different to what everyone else does or can do, and whose success or failure can touch a large number of people. I don’t know if I make myself clear. It’s one thing campaigning for the environment, it’s another campaigning for the environment rights of the Ogoni people. This is what gives me the kicks.
Specificity. And it might have been better for me if I were not Ogoni. I should feel like a missionary. Now I think I’m doing what I ought to do as the son of my father. A duty. But I’m happy that I got round to it in the end.
Sorry about the dearth of news from this end. The newspapers are all under tremendous pressure and radio & television being govt. controlled are useless to us. There’s not much happening anyway. Just the old stone-age dictatorship strutting about the stage like a blasted peacock in dark goggles. Such a walking insult to the Nigerian! I feel so ashamed to be Nigerian.
Ogoni Day was a success here at home in spite of the blandishments of the military. FOWA [Federation of Ogoni Women’s Association] played a very impressive role. 15 of them ended up in detention in the military camp at Kpor. There were processions and dances in individual villages as I had ordered. In Bori, the vulture who acts as chairman of the Local Govt. Council who ordered the women arrested was driven by the women from church when he went the following Sunday to read the first lesson on Army Remembrance Day. The resilience of Ogoni women is admirable. My mother continues to host, each week, meetings of Ogoni women from fourteen surrounding villages. I’ve seen her twice since I got to Bori Camp here. She lost one of her 2 Sr.s [two sisters] a month ago or so. But she’s bearing up well. My father had a surgical operation recently. But I’m told he’s now okay. There’s a video of Ogoni Day & we’ll be sending it on once it has been edited. I sent a speech which has been published locally in part. It was read to applause at one of the centres.
Tomorrow, we go to the Tribunal. I know it’s a kangaroo court and I know they’ll be shutting me away for a time if not forever. But I’m not worried about that. I believe that it will give point to my cause and give it the world-wide publicity which we so badly need. Troops have been sent to Ogoni to stop the people from turning up in large numbers at the trial which is to be held in Government House. Government House! That is like holding the trial in the bedroom of the hangman. My younger Sr. [sister] who’s a lawyer in Zaria has come down and I expect my parents to be there, as usual. I’ve seen a handout asking all people in the oil-producing areas to protest the trial. I asked Gani [Fawehinmi] (who’s our lawyer) to go to the Lagos High Court to Challenge the Tribunal. He finally did, rather late. So the trial will go on, but he can argue his suit on the 26th in Lagos. A pity we could not delay the start of the Trial as I had wanted to do.
We’ve got an incriminating document belonging to the Rivers State Govt which I’m asking to be sent to you. I hope it gets published and I’d like to know what is the public reaction to it. UNPO appears hesitant to use it, doubting its authenticity. But I think it’s authentic, as Govt. has followed the plan absolutely. So, we’ll be at the Tribunal singing the MOSOP marching song.
B [probably Barika Idamkue] brought me a copy of Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom and I really enjoyed it over the New Year Holidays. I felt very energized by it. It’s so fictional in quality. And it’s very well written. Short chapters in various sections. You must get a copy.
I’m going to try to get the Tribunal to move me either to prison or to hospital. The Nigerian Army is brutal, greedy for power and money. I’d like to be rid of them forever. If I don’t get that, I’ll be really mad. I need to get to a place where I can write or at least use my computer.
Your diary did not say a word of my daughters. I hope they remain close to you. I miss them a lot. Also my daughter, Adele, who’s with a friend of the late mother at Derby. She’s really sweet, younger than Singto who was here over the Xmas. She came to see me in prison and was I glad to see her! I hadn’t seen her for almost eight months. She had grown much taller and slimmer. And she’s as enthusiastic as ever. Hauwa was also here throughout December with young Kwame (who looks so very much like me). I was able to hold him in my arms twice or thrice. I was not important to him, though. I’ll write again as the trial progresses. I’ll be having quite some fun in court. You have my love & admiration.
- A village in Ogoniland. ↵