Silence Would be Treason – BBC Documentary

Released On: 15 Jan 2022
Available for over a year

Voiced by Ben Arogundade and presented by Noo Saro-Wiwa. Producer: Bairbre Flood

The last writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa from prison in Nigeria to an Irish nun in the run up to his execution in November 1995. Smuggled out of prison in bread baskets, they are the final testament of a man who gave everything he had in the struggle for social and ecological justice. As Ken Saro-Wiwa continues to inspire people and movements across decades and continents, these letters form part of our living history, and give us an immediate link with the man behind the hero.

For years, Shell Oil with the backing of the Nigerian government drilled for oil in the mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta. The pollution that followed destroyed farms and rivers, and contaminated the fishing and drinking water of the Ogoni people. Ken Saro-Wiwa spearheaded the resistance to this destruction, and became an icon for social justice movements everywhere. Nigerian environmental activist, Nnimmo Bassey describes these last letters as: ‘invaluable fragments of a living conversation’. And there is this sense of immediacy – they are a direct account of the events which led to the execution of the Ogoni 9. These letters and poems of Ken Saro-Wiwa show him uncomfortable at becoming a disembodied, iconic figure.

He plays down the martyred saviour narrative in favour of a more fluid sense of self as ‘voice’. A globally resonant voice, which still has relevance today.

The book, published by Daraja Press, is available for free download or for purchase as a printed book at:

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