Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwaan

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Activism, Literature, Media, Musings, Poetry)

Ken Wiva,
Fist against
Shell oil’s might.

Oil of Ogoniland
Oozes and drains
Rows of cocoa, cassava yam.
Slain hero
Okonko’s hoe
Again lies in vain.

From Lagos to London and Holland
Dollars decorate the road
Like a miracle from an oracle’s wand
Pound and Gilder
Girdle Africa’s ankles and hands.

Torso of Ogoniland
Is riddled by the junta
Flames leap up from the rigs
Fly-ash fills the sky.

You were killed
On a cloudy night.

The sky
Wept acid-rain
In the streets and the slums
Courtyards of Prisons
A torrent of tears flooded Nigeria’s terrain.
Ken, sorrow of Agonyland.

Deep in your delta there’s oil
It boils;
Fresh in your heart there’s blood
It curdles;
Full in your eyes there’s water
It wells.

Across your beautiful body
Pipelines crisis cross like veins
Blood circulates as oil.

You were courageous
Like Okonko
But not keen.

Poet Playwright
Fist against
Hell’s might.

Like the shattered Okonko
You faltered.
Your fist
Was not clenched
In the fight.

Poems and plays–
They’re fine.
They too are weapons
In the pathways of the enemy’s mind.

But Abacha
Was a confirmed butcher
Backed by a John Major
And a no-regret Thatcher.
They rule as not by penning sonnets
But by piercing wombs with bayonets.

When they hung Okonko
Perhaps they did not know.
When the Ogonis were shot
It didn’t register a spot.
Anger, you gulped and swallowed
As you walked up the gallows.

It was a lesson
You learned too late.

Your pen
Should’ve been backed
By the gun, alright.

Viva Ken,
Wake up
Its past night
Your corpse sleeps in the coffin
Your spirit fills the air.
Stab the heart
That pumps out oil,
Shell the brain
That causes the drain,
Avenge the Saros of humankind.

This poem was written in memory of Ken Saro Wiva, who was a poet playwright and an environmental activist from Nigeria, Africa.

Ken was born in Nigeria in 1941 and he studied in the University of Ibadan. He was hanged by the regime of Nigeria lead by Abacha in the year 1995 (10th of November) though he was not proved guilty of being responsible for the death of four people during the march taken on the eve of world labor day that year.

Ken was an environmental activist who fought for the cause of Ogoni people in Nigeria who were being affected by the multinational Shell Oil Company who had set up their business in Nigeria with the help of the Nigerian regime.

Ken Viva had authored A Forest of Flowers (1987) which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, Sozaboy: A Novel in Rotten English (1985), Basi and Company: A Modern African Folktale (1987) and Prisoner of Jebs (1988). His collection of poems is titled Songs in a Time of War (1985) His play Basi and Company became a long running television comedy series of eighty episodes.

The judicial murder of Ken was opposed by human right activist worldwide but it failed to change the decision of the regime and Ken walked to the dark saying “you can kill me but not my thoughts, I know I have the moral victory”

The above quoted poem was written by Prem alias Saket Rajan, a Kannadiga, the poem was a reaction to the judicial murder of Ken Wiva in the year 1995.

An alumni and a gold-medalist from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi Saket Rajan alias Prem also authored the work Making History in two volumes. He led the naxal movement in the Malnad region of Karnataka.

Saket believed that Ken’s movement would have been victorious if it was backed by the gun and on the 6th of February 2005, Saket was shot dead in an encounter in Menasinahadya of Karnataka. His gun was lying next to his corpse.


“Man lives freely only by his readiness to die….. Every murder or other injury no matter for what cause committed or inflicted on another is a crime against humanity”
– Gandhi in Harijan on 20th July 1935.

“Wherever there are jars, wherever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love”
– Gandhi in Young India on 1st October 1931.


Sabko Sanmanti De Bhagwan

01 October 2008

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