Last Friday was the 11th Anniversary of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s execution. To mark the occasion, a “living memorial” to Ken was unveiled in London. Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists were murdered by the Nigerian junta in November 1995. Their only crime was to fight against the oil companies, namely Shell and ask for a greater share of the oil wealth drilled from under their land.
The “living memorial,” commissioned by the Remember Saro-Wiwa coalition, and created by sculptor Sokari Douglas Camp, is an enormous, silver steel, Nigerian bus and will be the first mobile memorial in the UK. It is inscribed with Ken’s words: “I accuse the oil companies of practicing genocide against the Ogoni.”
At a press conference to mark the unveiling of the bus, Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick, called Ken Saro-Wiwa one of the most remarkable men she had ever met. His son, Ken Wiwa talked about the current reconciliation process currently happening in Ogoni and that Shell should not be allowed to dictate the process. James Marriott, from the arts group Platform, who have coordinated the project lambasted the fact that no one from Shell had been brought to account for Ken’s murder.
Project curator David A Bailey said that the bus was meant to change our ideas “about what a ‘memorial’ means. It could not be further away from the Victorian concept of a static bronze figure. Not only is it mobile but it is also open inside and so it will become a free space for discussion, film screenings and education about the vital issues that Ken Saro-Wiwa campaigned for – a truly Living Memorial. Britain’s civic spaces are still overwhelmingly dominated by centuries of conventional monuments to aristocracy, empire and colonialism – this work will also contribute to the growing debate about changing that representation.”
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Images available on The Guardian website