Thursday, 7 November 2013

Launch of "Silence would be treason: last writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa"

Ken Saro-Wiwa was a noted Nigerian literary figure, activist for the rights of his indigenous Ogoni people, organiser against Shell's activities in the Niger Delta and campaigner for human rights and democracy. His organisation MOSOP, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, which saw 60% of the population join a single protest against Shell, was the target of brutal  repression by the then military regime, including mass killings and destruction of villages. Saro-Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni activists were convicted on trumped-up charges and executed by the then military dictatorship on November 10 1995 in the face of an international outcry. Shell recently settled with the families of those executed for $15.5 million.

Silence would be treason publishes for the first time an extraordinary series of letters and poems sent by Saro-Wiwa to Irish solidarity activist Sr Majella McCarron during his time in military detention. The last writings of a man on trial for his life, they were smuggled out of military detention in food baskets. Clear, direct and extraordinarily readable, these letters and poems are the last expression of a voice the regime was determined to silence: a voice for indigenous rights, environmental survival and democracy, many of whose battles were won despite his death and whose voice comes alive today again in these extraordinary letters.

Donated by Sr Majella to the National University of Ireland Maynooth on foot of Maynooth students' involvement in Shell to Sea, the letters have been transcribed and edited by Helen Fallon, Íde Corley and Laurence Cox with a foreword by Nigerian environmentalist and poet Nnimmo Bassey. This publication by Daraja, CODESRIA and Action Aid makes the letters available to an international audience in an accessible paperback edition, suitable for campaign and educational use and supporting the distribution of affordable copies in Africa. As the energy multinationals gear up for another assault on the planet, on indigenous populations and on democracy, the ideas in this book have never been more significant.

Silence would be treason: last writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa (edited by Helen Fallon, Íde Corley and Laurence Cox, foreword by Nnimmo Bassey).
Dakar / Bangalore: Daraja / CODESRIA / Action Aid, 2013.

198pp + illustrations, paperback $14.95. Available here

The coverage here