This report was first published in Platform's carbon web newsletter, issue 1.
On 10th November 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues were executed by the Nigerian dictatorship following their campaign against the devastating environmental impacts of oil companies – including Shell and Chevron – in the Niger Delta. Ten years on and the Nigerian government has changed but sadly little has changed for those living in the Delta. Escalating violence in the region is being fuelled by the continued extreme poverty in the area in the face of over 100 million dollars of oil being pumped daily. Additionally, the pollution of land, water and air has been on-going for nearly half a century, further disenfranchising the farms and fisheries of the Delta.
At many levels, oil extraction is turning the Niger Delta into a living hell for millions. While international attention is beginning to focus on the region, the concern is more for the security of oil supplies than for the wellbeing of the Delta’s people. To help draw attention to this, and to honour the struggle of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the thousands of Ogoni who died with him, PLATFORM is leading a coalition of environment and human rights groups together with writers, artists and the Saro-Wiwa family, to memorialise Ken in London and re-focus international attention on the ongoing crisis.
The Remember Saro-Wiwa project was launched on 22nd March at London’s City Hall by the coalition along with Ken Livingstone, Ken Wiwa and Anita Roddick. The evening witnessed the announcement of an international open call for ideas to find an inspiring idea for a ‘Living Memorial’ to Ken Saro-Wiwa. The call closed on 30th June and a shortlist of five will be announced in late July. The five shortlisted works will be exhibited in the lead up to the tenth anniversary and the winner will be announced at a special event on the anniversary: 10th November 2005. The winning piece will be commissioned in 2006 and for the first two years will tour as a unique mobile public art project, raising awareness about Ken’s life and work and about the situation in the Niger Delta. After the two year tour a permanent site in central London will be sought.