11 November 1995
Born in the Ogani District of Nigeria, Ken Saro Wiwa studied English at the Government College Umuahia. He took up a post as a Civil Administrator during the Nigerian Civil War and wrote a novel based on his experiences. In 1973, after having served as the Regional Commissioner for Education in the River State Cabinet, he was dismissed for his support of Ogani autonomy. Keen to promote the interests his minority group in Nigeria, Saro Wiwa became a member of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogani People (MOSOP). One contentious issue faced by the Ogani people, that MOSOP aimed to solve, was that of the crude oil extraction in the region. Since the 1950's, Oganiland had been dumped with oil waste, causing irreversible environmental damage. Saro Wiwa led a Passive resistance campaign against the multi-national corporations, Royal Dutch Shell in particular, and was also critical of the Nigerian government for its reluctance in curbing the wastage of oil companies. Due to his outspoken views, Saro Wiwa was imprisoned by the Nigerian military government for several months, without trial. In 1994, four Ogani chiefs were murdered, and although he had been denied entry into Oganiland on the day of the murders, Saro-Wiwa and eight other MOSOP leaders were arrested for inciting the killings. Due to the false testimony of two witnesses, bribed by Shell officials, he was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to death by hanging. On 11 November 1995, Saro Wiwa was executed, as were the other eight defendants. The international community responded with outrage, and Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth for almost four years. Law suits were brought against Shell, as well as Brian Anderson, the head of the Nigerian operation at the time. Shell offered $15.5 million to the families of the nine victims, but denied any responsibility for the executions.

Remember Saro-Wiwa [online] Available at: remembersarowiwa.com [Accessed on 3 November 2009]|

Wallis, F. 2000. Nuusdagboek: feite en fraste oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human&Rousseau.