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Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was one of the Ogoni nine, hanged in 1995 along with eight others by the Nigerian government for his continued protest against treatment of the Ogoni people. His death caused international outrage and sparked the banning of Nigeria from the Commonwealth of Nations for over three years. Since his trial and execution, Saro-Wiwa has become a pillar of free expression and many of his letters and short stories have been published in Index on Censorship, along with pieces about his life’s work. Most recently his son, Ken Saro-Wiwa Junior, published “A letter from Ken Saro-Wiwa” on the 20th anniversary of his death. This reading list groups together a collection of these works.
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Ken Saro-Wiwa articles
Adam Newey and Ken Saro-Wiwa, November 1995; vol. 24, 6: pp. 164-166
Written while Saro-Wiwa was still on trial, Adam Newey writes about how many believe that he will be found guilty and sentenced to death. This is followed by an extract from a statement that Saro-Wiwa was prevented from reading out in court.
Ken Saro-Wiwa, September 1997; vol. 26, 5: pp. 81-82
Taken from Saro-Wiwa’s collection, Songs in a Time of War
Ken Saro-Wiwa, November 1996; vol. 25, 6: pp. 79-86
A short story based on Saro-Wiwa’s experience with one of the “new” types of beggars, those who tell touching stories in order to get money
William Boyd on Ken Saro-Wiwa, December 2010; vol. 39, 4: pp. 93-96
British novelist William Boyd writes about his friendship with Saro-Wiwa and the international attention his cause gained in the 1990s
Ken Saro-Wiwa, November 2005; vol. 34, 4: pp. 24-29
On the tenth anniversary of his father’s murder, Ken Saro-Wiwa Junior recalls events and reflects on what has (and has not) changed
Adewale Maja-Pearce, January 1996; vol. 25, 1: pp. 57-61
A detailed account of Saro-Wiwa’s execution alongside responses to Nelson Mandela’s call for Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth
Editorial, January 1996; vol. 25, 1: pp. 3
A short mention of Saro-Wiwa’s execution, and how publicity and knowledge of the volatility of the conflict was not enough to save the Ogoni nine
Ike Okonta, November 1997; vol. 26, 6: pp. 8-10
A letter focusing specifically on the role of Shell in Nigeria
Caroline Moorhead, March 1996; vol. 25, 2: pp. 188-192
A look at Human Right’s Watch’s “authoritative and impressive” report on violations carried out by Shell in Nigeria
The Ken Saro-Wiwa reading list can be found here