Ken Saro-Wiwa: Speech late activist wasn’t allowed to read before his execution

Ken Saro-Wiwa: Speech late activist wasn’t allowed to read before his execution

Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian author, activist and environmentalist, was unfairly executed by hanging in 1995 by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha and buried in Port Harcourt cemetery.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020, made it exactly 25 years the late writer was killed alongside eight other Ogoni leaders after being unfairly detained for a year without a fair hearing.

The "Ogoni 9" as often referred, was campaigning against the pollution and exploitation of the Ogoni land (southeastern senatorial district in Rivers state) by the Royal Dutch Shell oil corporation.

But in what was described as "one of the worst excesses of the Abacha dictatorship in Nigeria" they were framed for the murder of five Ogoni chiefs after being testified against by their kinsmen who later revealed they were bribed with money and offers of jobs with Shell to give false testimony.

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25 years down the lane, a memorial was organised by some youths in Rivers state while many readings and radio events were held to remember the brave activist and other Ogoni heroes.

Ken Saro-Wiwa: Speech late activist wasn’t allowed to read before his execution
Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed alongside other Ogoni leaders after being framed into a murder case. Credit: Premium Times.
Source: UGC

Also in the UK, activists gathered in London to listen to a speech Saro-Wiwa prepared but was never allowed to read before the military tribunal that sentenced him and others.

Here is the speech read by Ms Stanford-Xosei as sighted on Premium Times.

"My Lord, we all stand before history, I am a man of peace, of ideas, appalled by the denigrating poverty of my people who live on a richly endowed land, distressed by the political marginalisation and economic strangulation, angered by the devastation of their land, their ultimate heritage, anxious to preserve their right to life and to a decent living, and determined to usher to this country as a whole a fair and just democratic system which protects everyone and every ethnic group and gives us all a valid claim to human civilisation, I have devoted my intellectual and material resources, my very life, to a cause in which I have total belief and from which I cannot be blackmailed or intimidated.

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“We all stand on trial, my lord, for by our actions we have denigrated our country and jeopardised the future of our children. As we subscribe to the sub-normal and accept double standards, as we lie and cheat openly, as we protect injustice and oppression, we empty our classrooms, denigrate our hospitals, fill our stomachs with hunger and elect to make ourselves the slaves of those who ascribe to higher standards, pursue the truth, and honour justice, freedom, and hard work.
“I predict that the scene here will be played and replayed by generations yet unborn. Some have already cast themselves in the role of villains, some are tragic victims, some still have a chance to redeem themselves. The choice is for each individual.
“I predict that the denouement of the riddle of the Niger Delta will soon come. The agenda is being set at this trial. Whether the peaceful ways I have favoured will prevail depends on what the oppressor decides, what signals it sends out to the waiting public.

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“In my innocence of the false charges I face here, in my utter conviction, I call upon the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger Delta, and the oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up now and fight fearlessly and peacefully for their rights.

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“History is on their side. God is on their side. For the Holy Quran says in Sura 42, verse 41: “All those that fight when oppressed incur no guilt, but Allah shall punish the oppressor.” Come the day.”

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