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Ken Saro Wiwa: We Are Because He Was

In his final statement before Justice Ibrahim Auta, Tribunal chairman, Ken said, when he was asked to plead his allocotus after conviction, “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 their political marginalization 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 civilization. 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. I have no doubt at all about the ultimate success of my cause, no matter the trials and tribulations which I and those who believe with me may encounter on our journey. No imprisonment, nor death can stop our ultimate victory”. “I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial and it is well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The company has indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and lessons learnt here may prove useful to it for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the company has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of a company’s dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished”. “On trial also is the Nigerian nation…A nation which can do to the weak and disadvantaged what the Nigerian nation has done to the Ogoni, loses a claim to independence and freedom from outside influence. I am not one of those who shy away from protesting injustice and oppression, arguing that they are expected in a military regime…we have denigrated our country and jeopardized the future of our children. As we subscribed 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 hardwork”. “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 denouncement 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 decided. What signal it sends out to the waiting public”. “In my innocence of the false charges I face here, in my utter conviction, I call upon the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta and the oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up now and fight fearlessly and peacefully for their rights. History is on our side. God is on our side. For the Holy Koran says in Sura 42, verse 41, “All those that fight when oppressed incur no guilt, but Allah shall punish the oppressor come the day”. Despite all these intellectual and emotional plea, Ken was murdered by hanging ten days after his conviction and sentence. Justice Ibrahim Auta has already ordered that Ken and the rest eight be hanged by the neck until they be dead. Good. His orders were obeyed to the letter with Col. Musa Komo and cohorts supervising. But what happened to Abacha on 8 August, 1998 tells us that there is no difference between 8 August and 10th November, between Friday of hanging, the black day for the black man and Monday 8th and between 1995 and 1998. The events in the Niger Delta today clearly indicate that “you can only kill the messenger and not the message”. If so, we are because he was.###

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