About us

RSW group photo, RSW at South Bank Centre, Nov 10th 2007

Remember Saro-Wiwa is a coalition of organisations and individuals which aims to create a Living Memorial to activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa in London, using art and activism to raise awareness and campaign for environmental and social justice in the Niger Delta.

Remember Saro-Wiwa is funded by individual donations, the Arts Council England, and the Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation. For more information about our donors and how to support Remember Saro-Wiwa click here.

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Below are statements from some of our partner organisations, outlining the significance of Remember Saro-Wiwa to their work.

African Writers Abroad
Remember Saro-Wiwa is important to African Writers Abroad (PEN) because:

To many African people, he was simply a freedom fighter, fighting for freedom of the word and freedom for the land of his people. This is why ‘Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa’ is important to all Africans, not just to those on the continent but equally so to those in the Diaspora who understand and appreciate the fight.

He wrote in all genres: serious novels, humorous drama, poetry and non-fiction ‘A writer of African people’. A writer for All people.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International has been campaigning to promote people’s rights and freedoms, for the abolition of the death penalty and for corporate accountability for many years. We are ordinary people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights. Our purpose is to protect individuals wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied.

The treatment and execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues epitomized the terrible denial of these rights, and the ongoing problems in the Niger Delta and elsewhere are testament to the need to remember, and to continue the struggle for justice.

Amnesty International is delighted to have the opportunity to be involved with Remember Saro-Wiwa. It is an important, groundbreaking project that will enable people in the UK to remember or become familiar with the work and legacy of Ken Saro-Wiwa, as well as adding great value to vital work being undertaken on corporate accountability.

Daleep Mukarji, Director, Christian Aid.
The killing of Ken Saro-Wiwa by Nigeria’s dictatorship in 1995 has become a tragic emblem of the struggle of human rights in the face of unregulated business interests. Saro-Wiwa led the Ogoni people in protests against oil-exploitation and the resulting pollution and conflict. His death shone a spotlight on the deeply troubled oilfields of the Niger Delta.

Many of the problems of pollution and conflict in the oilfields persist today. As Christian Aid said in its ‘Behind the mask’ report of 2004, Shell, the operating company in Nigeria’s oil consortium and the main target of Saro Wiwa’s protests, has failed to use its considerable influence to bring about change in the Delta. On the contrary, Shell presides over a situation in which the violence in communities around the oilfields is spiralling out of control.

If the tenth anniversary of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s killing is to mean anything, then it must focus the world’s attention on making business properly accountable for its impact on communities and the environment.

Pauline de Souza – Director, Diversity Art Forum
This is the first time that Diversity Art Forum (formerly the African and Asian Visual Artists Archive) will be working with PLATFORM. Diversity Art Forum is going through major changes that will allow it to broaden its old remit. Some of those new changes involves critical engagement with existing social, political and cultural practice that has dominated the visual arts for nearly twenty years.

Diversity Art Forum is interested in the art forms that expand notions of the visual and visual practice. PLATFORM enables Diversity Art Forum to have a critical dialogue with the issues that surround Remember Saro-Wiwa. This will not just consist of an endorsement of these issues but will reflect critically on the type of issues related to this project.

Diversity Art Forum will be producing a publication of the project and it is our intention to produce something that is not just a catalogue or a diary of events.

William Boyd on behalf of English PEN
Ken Saro-Wiwa was many things in his short life – teacher, public servant, successful businessman, TV producer, polemical journalist, political activist and, finally, martyr – but he always thought of himself, first and foremost, as a writer.

And with good reason: Ken Saro-Wiwa’s writings will prove an enduring monument to his vivid powers of invention, his stringent wit, his honesty and integrity, his fierce opposition to tyranny and corruption and his pride in his people and his country. He had already risked and suffered much fighting his cause and did not need to place himself in harms way again but he did so without a second thought.

He was a tremendously brave man and a tremendously brave writer – in both those roles he stands as a humbling and inspiring example.

Friends of the Earth (England, Wales & Northern Ireland)
Remember Saro-Wiwa is important to Friends of the Earth because if we don’t remember, then what? We forget the injustices done as oil flows, greasing the wheels of modern society. We forget to hold multinational companies and governments accountable as they plunder our resources, ride roughshod over communities and run riot through our environment. We forget the importance of speaking out, the debt we owe to those who fight for justice and our responsibility to future generations.

Gas still flares day and night in the Niger Delta. Oil pollutes. Spills and leaks contaminate land and seas and impact people’s lives. Globally, the climate change it causes is the biggest threat we face. We take inspiration from Ken Saro-Wiwa, those who died alongside him and all others who have spoken out against destruction and for social and environmental justice. We must remember the past so that we can change the future.

Greenpeace UK
Ten years ago we saw the starkest expression of the real priorities and instincts of government and industry. At the Rio Earth Summit three years earlier, then UK Prime Minister John Major committed himself to the principle of sustainable development. Shell declared itself committed to the principle as well. But 1995 was the year when pious words hit the buffers.

After a decade of ever tighter international agreements against dumping of all sorts of waste at sea, Shell – the ‘Better Britain’ oil company – commited the world’s biggest act of littering by dumping the Brent Spar oil platform. Later in the same year, Shell was at the heart of the tragedy that unfolded in Nigeria as Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his fellow activists were executed.

The horrible social and environmental consequences of the world’s addiction to oil should spur a rapid conversion from destructive to clean, safe renewable sources of energy and development based on genuine sustainability – that is, meeting the needs of all the world’s peoples without destroying the environment on which we all depend.

Ten years ago a satellite phone link was made between the occupiers of the ‘Brent Spar’ and a demonstration concerning Ken Saro-Wiwa, going on outside the offices of Shell in London.

Ten years on Greenpeace welcomes the opportunity to be involved with Remember Saro-Wiwa. It is a vital campaign that will enable people to remember why it is so important to hold governments and corporations to account.

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch conducts fact-finding investigations into human rights violations and corporate responsibility issues in many regions of the world. We have investigated and documented human rights issues in Nigeria since 1990 and published our first report on the issue of corporate responsibility and human rights in Ogoniland in July 1995.the appalling treatment of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues and the grossly unfair trial they faced. Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight fellow activists were hanged in November 1995 for speaking out about the human rights abuses and exploitation of the Niger Delta, despite representations to the Nigerian government and protests from round the world.

It was through the work of Movement for Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) under the leadership of Ken Saro-Wiwa that the world came to know of the plight of communities living in this oil-rich part of Nigeria and the role played by big business and government.

Many of the issues that affected the Niger Delta and its communities in 1995 continue to do so today. It is important to remember the past in order to understand and confront the present. Human Rights Watch published its most recent report, “Rivers and Blood: Guns, Oil and Power in Nigeria’s Rivers State,” in September 2004.

Jean Lambert – Green Party MEP for London
We should remember Ken Saro-Wiwa and those executed with him for their bravery in confronting state and corporate power in defence of their people, their land and their environment. I remember those deaths as truly shocking. If a government was willing to execute someone so well-known and in the face of international opposition, how many others were dying?

The struggle is not over yet. People and land suffer in the face of greed and unchecked power. A memorial to Ken Saro-Wiwa is a reminder of all those who have suffered and a spur to further action in pursuit of a safe future for all the peoples of the world.

PLATFORM
For 21 years, PLATFORM has been bringing together environmentalists, artists, human rights campaigners, educationalists and community activists to create innovative projects driven by the need for social and ecological justice. The interdisciplinary approach combines the transformatory power of art with the tangible goals of campaigning, the rigour of in-depth research with the vision to promote an alternative future.

Please also see the Refining Memory booklet, which contains short essays by PLATFORM and Ken Wiwa, as well the 5 short listed artists. Our short essay, the second in the booklet, explains our motivation for initiating and pursuing this project.

Other partners include:

Africa Beyond

Arts Council England

Index on Censorship

Mayor of London

Minorities
of Europe

People and Planet

Anita & Gordon
Roddick

South Bank Centre

SpinWatch

Stakeholder Democracy Network

Remember Saro-Wiwa is a coalition of organisations and individuals, initiated and co-ordinated by...


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