10,000 Hold Candlelight Vigil In Port Harcourt for Ken Saro-Wiwa


An estimated 10,000 people from the Ogoni, Ijaw, Yoruba, Hausa, Ikwerre, and other communities from different parts of the state and beyond last night in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, took over major roads in the city in a mournful and solemn candle light procession to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Nigeria’s famous writer and activist and his other colleagues.

The men were hanged 16 years ago, by the military government of the late General Sani Abacha and Lt. General Jeremiah Useni, who will at the weekend be honoured with the Commander of the Order of the Nigeria (CON) award by the Goodluck Jonathan government.

Recent human rights reports have also implicated Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch multinational oil company, in the murders carried out by the brutal military dictatorship despite international appeals.

The demonstration started at about 10.00 pm from No. 24, Aggrey Road (Saro-Wiwa’s home in the heyday of the Ogoni struggle fondly referred to as Ogoni).  The demonstrators were addressed by Michael Kanikpo, the chairman of the Ogoni Civil Society Platform (OCSP).

Mr. Kanikpo a lawyer who benefitted from the late Saro-Wiwa’s philanthropy, told the huge crowd in an emotion-laden voice, “ I thank you all, I am still shocked that [despite] November 10, 1995, when Abacha and Shell put off the light, today we can still have many lights to light the way.  We have come not only to respect our fallen hero, but to continue the struggle he and others were killed for ”.

He urged participants to be peaceful and order during the procession, and that victory is near.
The thousands in attendance were clad in black attires.  In their hands they carried white candles, and there was much singing, beating of drums, clapping of hands and dancing by the old and the young, and many women and children who participated in the march. 

The Saro-Wiwa activists marched through the major Agrey Road in the southern part of the city to the Port Harcourt prisons where 32-year-old Goodluck Jack Tambari, one of the arrow heads of the movement spoke. “This is a yearly ritual,” he said, and then, pointing at the enormous wards of the prison, he lamented, “It was here that our mentor (Saro-Wiwa) was humiliated and killed. This prison is cursed for hosting the evil drama.’