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Com Saketh Rajan's Poem on Ken Saro Wiva

The below poem was written by Com Saketh Rajan alias Prem , the poem was a reaction to the judicial murder of Ken Wiva in the year 1995.

Ken Wiwa,poet Playwright, Fist against Shell oil’s might.

Oil of Ogoniland
Oozes and drains
Rows of cocoa, cassava yam.
Slain hero
Okonko’s hoe
Again lies in vain.

From Lagos to London and Holland
Dollars decorate the road
Like a miracle from an oracle’s wand
Pound and Gilder
Girdle Africa’s ankles and hands.

Torso of Ogoniland
Is riddled by the junta
Flames leap up from the rigs
Fly-ash fills the sky.

Ken,
You were killed
On a cloudy night.

Heavy,
The sky
Wept acid-rain
In the streets and the slums
Courtyards of Prisons
A torrent of tears flooded Nigeria’s terrain.
Ken, sorrow of Agonyland.

Niger,
Deep in your delta there’s oil
It boils;
Fresh in your heart there’s blood
It curdles;
Full in your eyes there’s water
It wells.

Nigeria,
Across your beautiful body
Pipelines crisis cross like veins
Blood circulates as oil.

Ken,
You were courageous
Like Okonko
But not keen.

Poet Playwright
Fist against
Hell’s might.

Like the shattered Okonko
You faltered.
Your fist
Was not clenched
In the fight.

Poems and plays–
They’re fine.
They too are weapons
Landmines
In the pathways of the enemy’s mind.

But Abacha
Was a confirmed butcher
Backed by a John Major
And a no-regret Thatcher.
They rule as not by penning sonnets
But by piercing wombs with bayonets.

When they hung Okonko
Perhaps they did not know.
When the Ogonis were shot
It didn’t register a spot.
Anger, you gulped and swallowed
As you walked up the gallows.

But,
It was a lesson
You learned too late.

Your pen
Playwright
Should’ve been backed
By the gun, alright.

Viva Ken,
Poet,
playwright
Wake up
Its past night
Your corpse sleeps in the coffin
Your spirit fills the air.
Stab the heart
That pumps out oil,
Shell the brain
That causes the drain,
Avenge the Saros of humankind.

This poem was written in memory of Ken Saro Wiva, who was a poet playwright and an environmental activist from Nigeria, Africa.

Ken Saro Wiwa(October 10, 1941 – November 10, 1995)



Ken was born in Nigeria in 1941 and he studied in the University of Ibadan. He was hanged by the regime of Nigeria lead by Abacha in the year 1995 (10th of November) though he was not proved guilty of being responsible for the death of four people during the march taken on the eve of world labor day that year.

Ken was an environmental activist who fought for the cause of Ogoni people in Nigeria who were being affected by the multinational Shell Oil Company who had set up their business in Nigeria with the help of the Nigerian regime.

Ken Viva had authored A Forest of Flowers (1987) which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, Sozaboy: A Novel in Rotten English (1985), Basi and Company: A Modern African Folktale (1987) and Prisoner of Jebs (1988). His collection of poems is titled Songs in a Time of War (1985) His play Basi and Company became a long running television comedy series of eighty episodes.

In January 1993 MOSOP(a organisation Ken headed) organized peaceful marches of around 300,000 Ogoni people – more than half of the Ogoni population – through four Ogoni centers, drawing international attention to his people's plight. The same year, Shell ceased operations in the Ogoni region, while the Nigerian government occupied the region militarily.

Saro-Wiwa was arrested again and detained by Nigerian authorities in June 1993, but was released after a month. In May 1994, he was arrested and accused of incitement to murder following the deaths of four Ogoni elders. Saro-Wiwa denied the charges, but was imprisoned for over a year before being found guilty and sentenced to death by a specially convened tribunal, during which nearly all of the defendants' lawyers resigned in protest to the trial's cynical rigging by the Abacha regime. 

The resignation of the legal teams left the defendants to their own means against the tribunal, which continued to bring witnesses to testify against Saro-Wiwa and his peers, only for many of these supposed witnesses to later admit they had been bribed by the Nigerian government to support the criminal allegations. The trial was widely criticised by human rights organisations and half a year later, Ken Saro-Wiwa received the Right Livelihood Award for his courage as well as the Goldman Environmental Prize

Very few observers were surprised when the tribunal declared a "guilty" verdict, but most were shocked that the penalty would be death by hanging for all nine defendants. However, many were skeptical that the executions would actually occur, as the Nigerian government would face international outrage and possible sanctions and other legal action should the penalties be carried out.

But on 10 November 1995, Saro-Wiwa and eight other MOSOP leaders (the "Ogoni Nine") were executed by hanging at the hands of military personnel. According to most accounts, Ken was the last person to be hanged and thus forced to watch the death of his colleagues. Information on the circumstances of Saro-Wiwa's own death are unclear, but it is generally agreed that multiple attempts were required before the hanging finally brought Saro-Wiwa to his end.
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