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Undated letter

Dear Sr. Majella,[1]

Greetings in God’s name. Well, you know the whole story. They are getting closer to me—Shell and the Nigerian establishment that is. I’m not particularly protected, although I have great faith in God, in the justness of my cause & in the belief in eventual VICTORY. But the pain which we all have to endure! Would to God it had been lighter!

My current detention is sheer torture. I’m a private prisoner of the Lt-Col Komo[2] and his Internal Security Task Force. This is a lawless situa­tion. I’m not being held under Decree 2 for all I know, and if I were being held under the Criminal Code over the homicide of the 4 Ogoni men, I should be in the hands of the Police. [UNHRC have a mandate on the con­dition of prisoners. Can the rep in Lagos do something about me?][3] Now here I am, in a private house, denied access to lawyer, doctor, family, other visitors and not allowed to have the special diet which I have been on. I am not allowed to read newspapers, listen to radio or read books. It’s mental torture. The living condition is okay—there is electricity & air condition­ing, but I’m alone with two armed guards, 24 hours a day. I’ve asked Bishop Makozi [Catholic Bishop of the Port Harcourt Diocese] to intervene with the Governor so I’m properly fed & taken to hospital. No dice. You should see me. I’ve lost weight! For the first 10 days here, I was on bread, water & bananas alone. But I’m in good spirit, undaunted, as convinced of my cause as ever. My real worry is the devastation of Ogoni villages, the destabilization of the area & the harassment & killing of the people. With MOSOP Steering Committee members on the run or under arrest, the Ogoni are not protected at all. And the international scene is quiet, taken up with Abiola.[4] Only Divine intervention can help the Ogoni.

I’m not worried for myself. When I undertook to confront Shell & the Nigerian establishment, I signed my death warrant, so to speak. At 52, I think I’ve served my time and, come to face it, I’ve lived a charmed life. A few more books, maybe, & the opportunity to assist others would have been welcome. But it’s okay. Of course, I & MOSOP had nothing to do with the death of the 4 gentlemen. We are struggling for justice, not for power and, in any case, they were of little consequence in a highly mobilized and conscious Ogoni population. They were no threat in any way at all. Komo has just succeeded in masking the government’s role in the unfortunate & brutal deaths. And the Orages[5] were my in-laws. My children are cousins of the Orages. Elizabeth is from Bane & is the elder Sr. [sister] of my estranged wife, Maria. And I did have a lot in common with Edward Kobani.[6] We continued to discuss & chat even in recent times. We always got together again after he’d have strayed to his heart’s content.

Well, Sr., I hope you do get this letter. I hope I’ll get another opportu­nity to write you. I’m spending my time writing short stories—I lock my door & do not allow my gaolers [jailers] to see me at it.

If we meet again, we’ll smile. Till then, it’s good luck & God bless you.[7]

 


  1.  The following letter was not dated but McCarron believes it was written in June or July 1994. On 21st May 1994, four Ogoni elders—Albert Badey, Edward Kobani, Samuel N. Orage and Theophilis B. Orage—were murdered at Giokoo in Ogoniland. Saro-Wiwa and three other MOSOP activists were accused of conspiring in the murders, arrested on 22nd May and detained without charge.
  2. Colonel Duada Musa Komo, Military Administrator of the Internal Security Task Force which was set up to deal with the Ogoni campaign. For more information, see Timothy Hunt, The Politics of Bones: Dr Owens Wiwa and the Struggle for Nigeria’s Oil (Toronto: McCleland and Stewart, 2005).
  3. The bracketed sentences were added in a column along the side of the paragraph.
  4. Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (M.K.O. Abiola) ran for the office of President in June 1993. He is widely presumed to have won the election which was annulled by the presiding military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, before an official result was announced. A political crisis ensued, allowing General Sani Abacha to seize power some months later.
  5. A reference to Samuel N. Orage and Theophilis B. Orage, two of the four Ogoni chiefs who were murdered at Giokoo in Ogoniland on 21st May 1994.
  6. Another of the four Ogoni chiefs who were murdered on 21st May 1994.
  7. This letter is unsigned.

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