Home » Headlines, Niger Delta, Rivers, State News » Ken Saro-Wiwa: 25 Balloons to the Sky – By Favour Barika-Laka and Victor Barika-Laka

Ken Saro-Wiwa: 25 Balloons to the Sky – By Favour Barika-Laka and Victor Barika-Laka

On 10th October, 1941, the sky experienced an unusual eclipse and seven smart and multi-colour rainbows dot it. The cry of a new bouncing baby boy was loudly heard, and then, the sun suddenly dimmed and followed by light showers of rain. Witnesses exclaimed and shouted “to God, we return the glory” as the future advocate of the down-trodden and suppressed has been heralded to the world and received by traditional midwives on Hospital Road, Bori – the traditional headquarters of Ogoni Kingdom, which comprises Khana, Tai, Gokana, Eleme and Oyigbo Local Government Areas in Rivers State.

On the above date, a human-spirit and pro-active messenger of the Ogoni ethnic nationality who was immediately named as Kenule Beesor Saro-Wiwa smiled on hitting the delivery mat, having emerged from the blessed ingredients of Pa  Jim Beesor and Mama Jessy Nwidu Wiwa. Like a golden fish, which has no hiding place, Ken showed early signs and traits of greatness and fame at birth.

His life and times were for the masses and dedicated for the unbroken pursuit of the common good. The energy continued to strengthen him for the overall advancement of the global society from 1941 to 1995. He received direction on the birth mat to embark on popular mission, and for him, it was mission accomplished in all aspects throughout the eventful active and physical 54 years he spent on earth.

Scores of his achievements exposed Ken’s workaholic, resilient and go-getting nature. He sacrificed so much, including time, resources, energy, intellect and pleasure in order to, always, be on top of the situation in access to global information. This attitude aided him to empower and improve his people with the products and derivatives of that weapon of power, knowledge and wealth. He led the field in global trends in diverse areas of human living and exploited its benefit for the African poor, weak and ignorant. His characteristic selfless disposition, sense of judgment and uncommon vision for change and excellence placed him higher above his friends and contemporaries. It further endeared him to hundreds of progressive citizens across the universe, especially deprived and marginalised people in The Third World.

The environmental activist was decisive in all activities. He was often celebrated as a poet and had an electrifying dimension of the power of speech whilst he spoke at all fora with arresting logic and oratory. Ken made the Ogonis, whose oil resource was tagged “Black Gold” in the Americas and Europe, to breathe fresh air as oil exploitation seized in 1993 through peaceful non-stop campaigns. Known for the best quality of oil, Ogoni was sacrificed in Nigeria by succeeding governments, despite being the ‘cash cow’, but painfully, the people had nothing to show for it, for a whole four decades. The level of denigration and dehumanization of the Ogonis was like a bitter a pill for Ken to swallow, and for divide and rule tactics to force his retreat from the mass movement. Ken won more powerful enemies when he fought hard and got Ogoni enrolled as a member of the United Nations Unrepresented People (UNPO). Hell was let loose. Haba, why should Ken activate the international voice of Ogoni and minority Niger Delta groups? But, he didn’t bulged.

During one of the delegated representations of his people as the Secretary- General of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) at UNPO’s headquarters, the chairperson of the organisation had to authorise the moderators to raise the podium or fetch an alternative podium to give the world an ample opportunity to see the man (‘masquerade’) behind the ringing and eloquent voice pressing for the protection of minority rights and integration  into the international arena for perpetual justice, welfare and development.

True, Ken paid his dues on all occasions and did not disappoint his parents and the combined sweat of the palm kernel merchant and farmer. Whether, it was at the United Nations headquarters in New York in the United States of America or at the secretariat office of the United Nations Human Rights Council at Geneva in Switzerland, a tall voice from a refined vessel was available for the African continent. It was ready to expose the hidden crimes and atrocities of some tyrants and sadists against his people, especially those African leaders who connived with multi-national firms to cheat local African people of their natural resources. In like manner, a voice was available to fight the impunity of elected persons who were meant to serve, but, who instead, chose to bark and bite their subjects and loot the people’s wealth.

The world knows him to be a social crusader who was always fighting primitive accumulation, nepotism, dishonesty, tribalism and betrayal of trust. Ken set a standing order against corruption and conversion of public wealth as a public servant. Besides Ken’s raw intellect, the above factors in his approach to life, were some sterling qualities and virtues that impressed the then Military Governor of Old Rivers State, His Excellency, Gov. Alfred Diete-Spiff to offer this playwright a chain of top positions of public trust and responsibility.

The first political appointment to Ken was made by the Federal Government of Nigeria for Ken to serve as the Administrator of oil-rich Bonny Kingdom. Later, Gov. Alfred Diete-Spiff of Old Rivers State appointed him as the Hon. Commissioner for Education; and much later, as the Hon. Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism. Ken was discovered early enough as a good, trusted and productive material by his master, Alfred Diete-Spiff, the then Governor who appointed him to serve as an Hon. Commissioner at the age of 24, making him the youngest in the history of public leadership in Nigeria till date.

The Holy Bible’s truth is constant. It says “Seest thou a man so diligent in his deeds, he will dine with kings… .” Ken was diligent in his deeds and thus had the rare opportunity of dining and shaking hands with kings and queens of epic fame. He interacted with the world and represented the minorities of Nigeria well at all times, opening up the Niger Delta Question for discourse with distinct and influential men and women of history. Indeed, he acted in the fashion of a sincere messenger of voluntary will – leaving nothing to chance and giving all for the struggle to re-invent, upgrade and beautify the Niger Delta region. And then, to prove his uncommon passion for service to humanity, he parted a poetic gift to the world: “You can kill the messenger, but you cannot kill the message.” Blessed be the name of the Lord, as despite the passage of time, about two and half decades now (precisely by 10th November, 2020), the message – divine and wholesome is yet to be killed. Those that attempt to murder the message all end up pursuing thick shadows and wasting their energy. The message is a spirit!

We celebrate you, “Ken the Great” as a man of valour, tact, wits and courage. We celebrate you as a man of honour. We now understand why you were re-buried according to Ogoni tradition and honoured as an Ogoni martyr. You were, indeed, a crown and resilient Prince of the Gbenedorbi Royal Dynasty of Bane (Buedum). We commend the level unity and love that exists and has been sustained in the extended Gbenedorbi Family, especially in the face of the brutal theft of their iconic son by the despotic government of late General Sani Abacha. May the fortitude continue to flow as the pain is heavy and there is the need to sustain the struggle for the dignity of minority people throughout the nooks and crannies of the globe. A key aspect of that large family is the Wiwa Family that is now led and supported, at all fronts, by Prince Harry Saro-Wiwa, Prince Love Wiwa, Dr. Owens Wiwa, Gen. Letam Wiwa, Princess (Barrister) Comfort Wiwa, Prince Charles Wiwa, Prince MtamaBari Wiwa, and the rest.

In an honest assessment of his struggle for the liberation of impoverished and persecuted citizens, we can boldly declare that Ken came to this world, saw many things and conquered them all. He equates the first order of Ogoni iconic and resilient princes worthy of being singled out, separated and called Pya Needam, beyond the issue or reality of biological gender. At birth the soil of Bane, his countryhome in Ogoni Kingdom now re-christened Buedum, announced him, whilst in the course of life, Ken, being a man of charisma and distinction, in turn, announced Buedum and announced Ogoni Kingdom to the world. It is on record that prior to his stepping into the saddle of activism, Ogoni Kingdom and other indigenous minority groups in Africa were unknown and had no place on the world map.

Ken continues to earn the quality support and endless solidarity of the world’s minorities, even at physical passage. His charitable mindset has increased the margin of gratitude he enjoys from discerning countries, governments and their citizens. As the day passes, so does the current of mass solidarity for Ken swells. And so he enjoys the goodwill of the Ogonis as well as from diverse men and women of substance and conscience across the seven continents of the entire universe.

The legacies of Ken are too numerous and massive to be matched by minions, feeble-minded elements and reprobates. Frankly speaking, the signature projects of Ken, forming his indellible elements of service and titanic legacies are too unique and legendary to be dimmed by time or to be undermined by any sane leader, irrespective of shared doctrines or ideological differences.

The first indestructible and invisible aspect of his contribution is the service of restoring the lost voice and dignity of Niger Deltans within the Nigerian-nation. Thank you and more power to your elbow to you, sir, for being a man of strength and visionary prowess. Your spirit is still very much alive with us, and so we do not consider you to be a deceased mortal. Ken instrumented the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) as well as the Hydro Pollution Reduction and Environment Project (HYPREP).

His struggles also led to the establishment of Bayelsa State, which would have been Ogoni State, but for his refusal to back down on MOSOP struggles. He also instrumented the creation of oil mineral development commissions in the Niger  Delta region such as Delta, Imo and Ondo so as to raise the tempo of development and boost rapid growth and progress at oil-bearing communities. A fall-out of his life of sacrifice led to the renaming of the Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori and Stadium Road in Port Harcourt after Ken. This is a commendable act of appreciation of his essence for a better Rivers State and we thank the visionary and development machine called Chief Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike, the incumbent Governor of Rivers State for encouraging hardwork, meritocracy and selfless contributions in the society.

In foreign countries, Ken has been honoured and decorated and venerated as a social saint. Albums upon albums of various songs have been sung and released in his name and to announce the essence of his matchless service to humanity. A street in Amsterdam is named after this international freedom fighter. The University of Ibadan owes humanity apologies and a debt of explanations as to how someone who was denied a First-Class Degree was later appointed as a Graduate Assistant because that offer is against the university system rule across the globe. But, let’s not draw a fight; it simply shows a tacit admission that Ken, indeed, actually deserved the award of a First-Class Degree in English Language and that he was denied because he constantly spoke truth to power. The current Vice-Chancellor and the Senate of the renowned university can still offer redress and confer it as a post-humous honour.

During Ken’s days at the University of Ibadan, he swept all academic prizes in the Department of English Language and served as a founding member of the Students’ Union Government (SUG) as well as its spokesman.

Later in life, it was impossible for darkness to shield some of Ken’s latent potentialities, talents and peculiar skills. He produced Nigeria’s all-time best Television Series called Basi & Co as well as the Transistor Radio. This creativity catapulted Ken into the league of exceptionally wealthy Nigerians. His wealth enjoyed sustainable dimension through the widely educative and philosophical books he authored. Some of them were Sozaboy, A Month and A Day, Genocide in Nigeria: The tragedy of Ogoni; A Forest of Flowers, The Singing Anthill, On a Darkling Plain, Ogoni’s Agonies, In the Shadow of a Saint, Before I Am Hanged, and, Africa Kills Her Sun.

These men and these great activists called “The Ogoni Nine”, were wasted, but, they have not died in vain: Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbokoo, Paul Levura, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Dr. Barinem Kiobel, John Kpuinen and Ken Saro-Wiwa. On that black and evil day of General Sani Abacha; that 10th November, 1995, Ken proved that he meant his words and had serious hatred for the betrayal of trust. After his compatriots had been wasted, Ken was, once again, given the option to renounce the MOSOP struggle and be saved, but he refused and said “We stand before history”; “we meant it that Ogoni must be rescued and saved.” The hangman was instructed to waste Ken first, but the machine seized operations when Ken stepped on it. It refused to work after several trials.

The hangman was frustrated and raised calls and was, then, advised to keep Ken aside and proceed with the execution of others. The government paid a bogus sum of money to all their spin-doctors and voodoo agents, but the machine would still not work so as to waste Ken. But, because his associates have been wasted and he stood before history, Ken had to pray for the slaughter machine to work in order to avert the wrath of history. And that was how a generation of freedom fighters was wasted. The tasking question remains unanswered: Why do you waste unarmed citizens who adopted peaceful protests and campaigns as a rule in seeking justice for their natives? They can NEVER die in vain! We pray God to accept their souls and offer them the grace to make heaven.

Ken was a diminutive, influential and radical mortal of the highest call in intellectualism, and not even his denial of a first-class degree, because he fought for student’s rights, welfare and dignity, could diminish his status as a first-class material, in all ramifications!

He was a gift to our generation and worked hard to shape, reform and transform it for the good of all. Ken was a shining executive of the noble club of development activists as well as of the civil society and human rights community. He preached and practised what he preached, unlike some members of the elite who preached concepts and practices they themselves never embraced and obeyed. Throughout his life, he believed in modesty and lived a simple and an humble lifestyle. He was a great and fiery fighter for the freedom, empowerment and emancipation of vulnerable people.

Yes, Ken lives on and appears to be stronger in death. Our research findings is that, in death, more people talk about him; more people cherish his fond memories; and more privileged leaders and personalities help vulnerable adherents and apostles of Ken’s philosophies and advocacies. He even seems to be more popular in death. Icons like Ken do not die, but their unprovoked foes die and die shamefully several times before their funeral!

Ken can never be forgotten by an array of succeeding generations and by historians as well as arts players in the field of monuments and museums. Because Ken is involved, millions of young and creative minds across the world have made brisk sales of his portraits and from branded products made into souvenirs and are surviving through it. So, we ask, if Ken is dead, how come he is still creating wealth for people? Great personalities like Ken can never die and that is why living or lost icons such as Dr. Nelson Mandela, Dr. Kofi Annan, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Pastor Lazurus Muoka, Dr. Akweke Nwafor-Orizu, Chief Fani Kayode, Chief Mrs. Margaret Ekpo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Dr. Tai Solarin, Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Lady Opray Winfrey, Dr. W. O. S. Dubois, Dr. Ben Carson, Chief Alfred Rewane, Pastor Joyce Meyer and Queen Amina of Zaria, too, can never die.

Other icons and amazons in the ilk of Ken, whose signature deeds can never fade, despite changing seasons and thus can never die, are: Bishop Dr. David Oyedepo, Sam Amuka Pemu, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Jerry Rawlings, Archbishop Dr. Moses Olaka Kattey, President Nicolas Maduro Moros, Pastor Dr. Enoch Adeboye, Archbishop Sam Amaga, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Prince Ned Nwoko, Alhaji Othman DanFodio, HRM. King Alfred Diete-Spiff, Hon. Justice L. L. Nyordee, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Corazon Aquino, Bill Clinton, Mrs. Dilma Rouseff, HIM. Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi (Ooni of Ife), Prince Dr. Rahman Adedoyin, Dr. Owens M. Wiwa, Chief Abraham Adesanya, former President Barrack Obama, Gen. Mobolaji Johnson, Princess Bola Shagaya, Pastor Dr. Tunde Bakare, President-Elect Joe Biden of USA, Dr. Ledum Gwarah and Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti.

Still in the line of icons with indestructible legacies are Chief Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, Chief Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chief Femi Otedola, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, Architect Ezekiel Nya-Etok, Dae Daniel Nwikpughita Wayih, Prof. Tonnie Iredia, Prof. Mrs. Florence Obi, Major Adaka Isaac Boro, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Dr. Zainab Gimba, Prof. Babagana Zulum, Sir Chika Okafor, Gen. Paul T. Boroh, Prince Oluseyi Makinde, Chief Eric Emeofia, Prof. Pat Utomi, Sir Emeka Offor, HRM. Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, Prof. Oluyemi Osinbajo, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, Bishop Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, George Etomi, Dr. Godwill Ogbari, AVM. Dr. Christian Dii, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumbakin, Prof. Atapia Atapia, Chief Lekia Nuka Gwarah, Dr. Favour Adeshina, Joe Igbokwe, Monday Okoye, Senator Dino Melaye, Mrs. Maiden Ibru, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, Rev. Dr. Chris Oyakhilome, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, and the rest.

It is certain that history shall speak against President Muhammadu Buhari and diminish his tall achievements if his tenure comes to an end and he fails to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his fellow eight Ogoni environmental activists falsely accused and wasted by the Abacha junta in the fashion that he exonerated and honoured some Nigerian elite who were accused and punished for treasonable felony by the same cannibal. God should be respected and human rights should also be respected, even if they concern minority people. Ken and his compatriots should not be denied official exoneration, simply because they are minority Ogonis!

Ken was an active member of the Ogoni Diminutive Club of Patriots (OGOCUP), a league known for their dynamism and for heavily impacting poor Ogonis and other minority natives in Nigeria. Other notable members of this distinct organisation were late Ogoni legends such as Senator (Gbene) Cyrus Nunieh, Rev. Suanu Lucky Abaadam and Dr. Charles Darwin. Their lives offered meaning to the under-privileged and helped in re-orientating the primitive in society. It further assisted in expanding the access and level of economic and academic progress of Ogoniland like that of Ken.

Due to his impact, Ken succeeded late Dr. Garrick B. Leton as the president of MOSOP. He was a man of elated faculty. This award-winning playwright belonged to the 1st Batch of Bane intellectuals, among whom were Yereba Nwikue, Barika Ogburu, Muele Waayii, Ndaanee Wikere, Anthony Piam, Francis Okori, Martins Idam, Christopher Bedele, Deezia Karikpo and Barieeba G. Fomsi whilst the 2nd Batch of intellectuals had names like Lekara Wayi, Dum Ogburu, Nwi-Isae Wikere, Muesa Nwikue, Donald Nwika, Blessing Barido Ikaba (now Deeyor), Gregory Idam, Monday Biragbara Laka, Brendan Nwidor, Emmanuel Gote Tsaro-Deeyor, Prince Harry Wiwa, Okon Oyoryor, Susanna Tebira, Sorle Baala, Barine Yorbe, Pyazuguru Yaaka, Serekara Yorkuri, Prof. Kpemom Tekate, Barine Nimah, Festus Nwamae, Moses Nwibu and Uedum Ben Wikere.

Yes, we buy the idea of erecting a permanent project to sustain the memory of Ken in Buedum for the benefit of the present generation and posterity. The Ken Saro-Wiwa Monument Park to be unveiled and commissioned on Tuesday, 10th November, 2020, at Buedum (Bane), is to us, apt and timely, while we commend the leadership of Wiwa Family for this creative idea and noble initiative. The Wiwa Family has another category of delectable princes and princesses that support and pray for the successful implementation of the Ken Saro-Wiwa Monument Park situated at Zorgorgbor-Bane. The princes include DumBari, Blessing, Alule and Goodman while the princesses are Madam Cecilia, Mrs. Eeba Nwitel, Ledor, Monale, Rita, Alee, Baridapdoo, Eucharia and the rest.

It is also our pleasure to commend the untiring efforts and sacrifices of a Catholic priest based in USA and president of Ogoni Gospel Ministers’ Forum, Rev. Fr. Anthony Barikpoa Kote-Witeh and his team who have commenced the process of erecting a magnificent multi-billion naira project as part of concrete measures to immortalise Ken Saro-Wiwa. The project is named Ken Saro-Wiwa Memorial Library and Orphanage Home and located at Deewii-Bane in Ogoni Kingdom. The foundation stone is expected to be laid in December 2020 with the survey plan concluded and other processes commenced.

The truth of the matter is that nothing is too big for immortalising Ken and his co-travellers that paid the supreme price for the voice of millions of impoverished people to be heard. Through the illegal use of arms purchased and oiled by the state during Abacha’s tyrannical rule, nine decent and vibrant activists that COMMITTED NO CRIME IN OUR CLIME were silenced. Is that the purpose of the tax payers’ money? The Ogoni Nine’s blood speaks and the beneficiaries are many and countless. Please, let’s join forces to sustain their legacies.

It is 25 years now since Ken became a victim of state murder and the colourful balloons of Ken Saro-Wiwa are still flying to the sky, showing that it pays to live for others and to serve humanity, in truthful and transparent manner.

By casual estimation, about 7,000 adults of poor parentage are, at the moment, living well in different overseas countries while most of them have become employers of labour. Some of them are now well-educated and famous, and enjoying his goodwill through the supreme sacrifice paid by Ken. To Ken, his goal of reducing lack and poverty in Ogoniland is served. He was married with children – all gifted in different fields.

From all of us at GbeneBari Dapdoo Global Club founded by the Chief Slave of GbeneBari Dapdoo, Prof. Barika Dominic Saro-Laka, a prophet, seer and revelator of The Most High God, we declare and pray as follows:

  • Leelee Alene Bee Kenule Beesor Saro-Wiwa, Mme Dee Anaata!
  • Leelee Alene Bee Gbene Mene Suanu Pya Ogoni, Mme Dee Anaata!!
  • GbeneBari Loa Dapdoo Dedeenu, Ane Leele Ye Izii Piogi, Mme Dee Anaata!!!
  • Ebu Bee Barite, Le Saaro, Le Kae, Idorn, Amen!!!!

 

  • Favour Barika-Laka is a graduating university student in a first-class overseas institution while Victor Barika-Laka is the president of the Senate of the Law Students’ Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN), Rivers State University Chapter, Port Harcourt.

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Posted by on Nov 10 2020. Filed under Headlines, Niger Delta, Rivers, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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