The Bus memorial to writer and campaigner Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 8 has been seized by Nigerian military.
On Nov 10th it will be 20 years since the executions of Ken and the other Ogoni men by Nigeria’s then military government for protesting against Shell and other oil companies.
Shell still have not started the clean-up of the devastated oil-polluted lands of Ogoniland.
Why does the life and work of the Ogoni struggle still have such POWER for artists?
Come to ‘Dance the Guns to Silence’ on Nov 10th at Rich Mix and you can hear them, be inspired by them in the flesh. Tickets are £5 in advance, £10 on the door.
BBC World Service Interview with artist Sokari Douglas Camp
Here’s what artists performing on November 10th have said to us:
Bumi Thomas, singer-songwriter
“For me, the Ogoni 9 represent the resilience of the human spirit. It is a symbol of justice, that highlights the power to advocate peace through social and creative activism. It is about the vision, leadership, courage and sacrifice of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni people for the perseverance of their land, rights, wellbeing – their internal and external ecosystems.”
Dele Sosimi, singer, musician
Despite facing execution Ken Saro-Wiwa spoke out courageously and remained steadfast with his admirable spirit of resilience and resolve to carry on with the belief that the hope for a better tomorrow where his people and nature would grow. I am doing my little bit as a duty, to help re awaken the desire for collective progress in our society through song poetry and dance.
Dorothea Smartt, Poet, Live Artist, Literary Activist
“Seeing images of the Ogoni landscape ravaged by oil production is shocking – and the people don’t even get to reap the financial benefits. Typically these go into the pockets of a greedy few! The murderers of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the others must be bought to justice. Multinationals in cahoots with national governments cannot be allowed to do as they please. Especially when they (wrongly) assume nobody cares or is watching them, abuse indigenous people and the planet, in the name of short-sighted, so-called ‘progress’! In my name!? NO!”
Co-Host: Kinsi Abdulleh, Numbi Arts
“We at the Numbi family second what the goddess Sistren Dorothea Smartt says. We add our voice to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, freedom and peace .”
Sai Murray, Virtual Migrants
“There is a direct link from London to the destruction of Ogoni (the land and the lives). These links are obscured, smeared, greenwashed, whitewashed… but dance and art can reveal the rusted chain beneath the slick corporate lies. As we fight to breathe in this toxic city, our air is polluted by exhaust fumes – some of which originate from the Niger Delta ecosystem. Let us also inhale the fighting spirit of Ken Saro-Wiwa to dance our anger and our joys, and dance oppression and injustice to death.”
Co-Host: Kadija Sesay, Writer & publisher, SABLE; Editor, 21 February
“The fact that we are commemorating this day shows that the issues and conditions of injustice haven’t moved. Isn’t that a shame? But we must use the opportunity to move forward positively and continue to demand justice and change.”
Zena Edwards, writer and spoken word artist
“A great Love holds a revolutionary. A great humility resides in an artist activist who puts that Love before themselves consistently, to the point where their own lives are at risk. Ken did both, loved and wrote without remorse and with humility, becoming a beacon of revolutionary integrity for the struggle against corruption, human rights abuse and exploitation of our Earth. I salute you, Sir.”
Luwi Mahenga, singer and poet
“I am honoured to be performing alongside some incredible performers at the 20th Anniversary, celebrating the life and work of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the 8 Ogoni men. I use poetry and song to challenge issues that face society so it is an incredible opportunity for me to perform at an event that is celebrating people that have and are still fighting for environmental justice.”