Life in the time of Coronavirus brought home the Interconnectedness and Vulnerability of Global Humanity with a speed and impact few could ever have imagined and many struggle to reconcile.

In the United Kingdom we are now five days into the second national lockdown.

Rather than lament the pause this causes in the new Culinary Consultancy practice which AFRICA: Seen & Heard has pivoted operations towards since the first national lockdown of March – May 2020, I prefer to celebrate the opportunity to return to Blogging after such a long interruption.

On Friday afternoon (6th November 2020), the Movement for the the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) held elections onto its National Executive Committee at the Peace and Freedom Centre in Bori, the traditional headquarters of the Ogoni people.

Lazarus Tamana, the EU Coordinator of the Movement for the the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) was elected as the President of MOSOP Nigeria.

MOSOP Nigeria is the people based social movement which has withstood infiltration from government and Shell Oil and is unconnected to the government-supported movement lead by Legborsi Pyagbara, whose three year MOSOP Presidency tenure expired on 31st December 2018.

On the 4th March 2020, in the High Court of Rivers State of Nigeria in the Nchia Judicical Division holden at Nchia-Eleme, His Lordship Hon. Justice C. D Green declared and ordered:

The 1st Defendant [Mr Legborsi Saro Pyagbara] having served for two terms of three (3) years each is not entitled directly or indirectly to seek for re-election or elongation of his tenure as President of the Movement for the the Survival of the Ogoni People vide article 5 (3), (c) of the Constitution.

All actions and/or activities the 1st Defendant purported to take after the 3rd day of November 2018 are ultra vires his powers and of no effect and a nullity.

A Perpetual injunction is hereby made restraining the Defendants [Mr Pyagbara and 2nd and 3rd Defendants Mr Fegalo Nsuke and Mr Barinara Kpalap purporting themselves as factorial Presidents] whether by themselves and/or by or through their servants, agents and/or privies from parading, representing and/or holding out themselves as Presidents of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).


During the August 17th 2019 meeting of MOSOP kingdom coordinators and affiliate heads, at the organisation’s Bori headquarters, then President of MOSOP Nigeria, Fegalo Nsuke decried violent criminal gangs campaigning and killing for forceful oil resumption in Ogoniland.

Nsuke asserted that oil resumption campaigners were being sponsored by the oil industry to destabilise the Ogoni and force oil extraction against their wishes.

The Nigerian government was urged to take responsibility for the crimes of its local thugs and begin to value Ogoni lives more than oil revenues.

Time will tell…

Lazarus Tamana is positive and determined to lead a progressive way forward.

His commitment to the cause, advancement and transcendence of the Ogoni land, people and the collective Niger Delta Community since 1990 has been tireless, principled, passionate and inspiring.

Yesterday (Monday 9th November 2020), the Nigerian security forces prohibited MOSOP leading members of the Ogoni community through Bodo, Ogoniland in their long-planned vigil and procession to remember the Ogoni Nine.

During the past month, MOSOP has urged Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse the convictions of the Ogoni Nine to alleviate the pain and injustice felt by the Ogoni people.

With Lazarus Tamana presiding, the Ogoni people united and the global community in alignment with their positive purpose, the way forward looks bright and clear.

The mission to deliver effective and efficient Clean-Up of Ogoniland, remediation of all toxic land and water contaminated by spilled crude and flaring gas, the rehabilitation of the Niger Delta ecosystem and development of new economic and industrial opportunities is surely in the right pair of hands.

We must join hands to support Lazarus, MOSOP and Ogoniland to make a better future for all, throughout the devastated Niger Delta and our increasingly polluted Planet.

Ken Saro-Wiwa was a lauded Nigerian writer and TV producer, passionate environmental activist and an outspoken critic of the military government of General Sani Abacha (1993-1998).

Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other MOSOP leaders were tried by a special military tribunal for allegedly inciting the brutal 1994 murders of four conservative Ogoni chiefs at a pro-government meeting.

The trial of the Ogoni Nine was widely criticised by national and global human rights organisations, with Ken Saro-Wiwa receiving the Right Livelihood Award for his courage.

At least two witnesses testified that Saro-Wiwa was involved in the murders of the Ogoni elders, but later recanted, stating they had been bribed with money and job offers with Shell Oil in the presence of the multinational company’s lawyer to give false testimony.

In Ogoniland, the 10th November is commemorated as Ogoni Martyrs’ Day.

2020 marks Twenty-Five years since the Nigerian military government executed nine leaders of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).

Baribor Bera, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Barinem Kiobel, John Kpuine, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate and Ken Saro-Wiwa opposed the ecocidal operation and human rights violating practice of the multinational company Royal Dutch Shell.

The nine outspoken activists were the target of a corporate campaign to silence them in which strategies of corruption, bribery and witness coaching were deployed against them.

After a trial based on false charges, the Ogoni Nine were sentenced to mortal death.

I was 16 years old at the time of the execution and recall the shock the world felt as if today were that very day.

I will never forget the broken hearts, consternation and condemnation of the adults gathered in my father’s salon to discuss the extrajudicial execution of the Ogoni Nine.

I was not yet an adult but having been privy to candid conversation, fiery intellectual debates and insightful political musings since infancy, the passion and pain I felt was as potent as the elders’ range of unspoken emotions was palpable.

I was not an Ogoni and neither were any of my father’s friends, –Yoruba, Igbo, Jamaican; his British social set of black males transcended tribe, ethnicity and nationality.

The loss each of us felt was as if beloved members of our own families had been murdered.

Much of the world felt this too as Nigeria soon became a global pariah, sanctioned economically and expelled from the Commonwealth of Nations.

“Perhaps to the ideals of my youthful self – a proud Afro-Briton who as a Bristolian infant demanded Yorùbá tribal marks on my cheeks – it felt as if Hope itself had died.”

New feelings and terms entered my burgeoning consciousness and young adult vocabulary.

As I acknowledged thejuntaaction and meditated upon the perversion of Justice, it surely fractured my respect for authority in ways I can only now discern.

Visceral shudders wracked my adolescent body at the thought of how the nine lives were physically extinguished.

With both motherland shame and moral scorn I learned the term, definition and reality of a KANGAROO COURT”.

I looked for some light amidst the darkness and experienced an affirmation that resistance is never futile if you remain committed to a cause.

Twenty-five years later, memories have faded but the issues faced by the Ogonis has escalated.

As an adult I clearly see that our world and many of its recurrent social issues move in a clear yet generally imperceptive Past-Present-Future continuum.

In 2015, I was introduced to Lazarus Tamana, a member of Ogoniland’s Bodo Community and the European Coordinator of MOSOP by my colleague, the British filmmaker, producer, director and cinematographer Nathan Achim Sheppard.

Nathan Achim Sheppard was such a close friend of Ken Saro-Wiwa that he entrusted him with his entire media film archive and visual legacy before he left the UK never to return again.

Saro-Wiwa gave Sheppard a lengthy and never published interview (excerpt above) a day or two before he left the United Kingdom, never to return.

During our project development meetings, Lazarus Tamana viscerally documented the environmental devastation that oil and gas extraction has caused across the Niger Delta region.

He connected my past memories to the present in a continuous loop of pollution, poverty and hydro-carbon related disease that the world no longer seemed conscious of.

As the decades have passed, the names of the majority of the men murdered by their state and buried in Port Harcourt Cemetery have been forgotten by the world.

The economic and ecological impact of the West’s insatiable thirst for Nigeria’s sweet Bonny Light crude oil – coveted by American and European refineries for its low specific gravity and high profit generation – is no longer loudly denounced by mainstream personalities most notably Anita Roddick OBE.

A teenage trip to the Body Shop to buy my favourite lip balm was as much a political lesson as a cosmetic whim.

I am now a grown woman and much better educated on the provenance of the raw materials inside mainstream beauty products.

I am extremely aware that what is ambrosia to multinational supply chains is poison to my motherland.

For self care and seasonal gifting, I will always choose natural indigenous botanicals such as Shea Butter, Avocado Oil, Monoï Oil or Ucuuba Butter over beauty goods with Petrolatum or Paraffinum Liquidum on the ingredients list.

My daughter and I were lucky enough to be initiated into the wonders of homeopathic skin remedies for curing eczemaceous skin by Dr Sara Eames, former President of the Faculty of Homeopaths and a clinician at the Royal London Hospital of Integrated Medicine (RLHIM) prior to her retirement.

We now integrate the wealth of botanical and mineral knowledge I have learned from the Traditional African Pharmacopeia, Ayurveda, Gemmology, Western Herbal Medicine and other global natural philosophies – through business and wellbeing research – with exceptional Niger Delta palm products and craft our own hair treatments and face masks.

In the 1960s, Nigeria was one of the leading exporters of crude palm oil.

It is now a net importer.

Nigeria spends around N500billion (c.£995million/$1.38billion) annually meeting the palm oil demand of citizens, yet ranks third in global terms of land area planted with Oil Palm.

Nigerian palm oil could easily offer the world the most environmentally friendly USP and generate income to remediate polluted environments and economically develop both the blighted Niger Delta region and the country as a whole.

Many people of the Niger Delta decry Crude Oil which was hallowed as “liquid gold” and a blessing to their economic growth as a curse to both their ancestral livelihoods and community mortality rates.

Since 2015, AFRICA: Seen & Heard has staunchly supported the efforts of the Bodo Community and in the longer term would like to assist the wider Niger Delta region.

Over the past five years, my commitment to serving the Ogoni struggle has focused on raising environmental awareness, developing economic opportunity and promoting education and wellbeing.

In 2015, the evening before the vigil planned for the 20 year commemoration of the Ogoni Nine executions I was forced to come out of my behind the scenes comfort zone.

Necessity dictated I produce a work of art to present to Shell U.K. as the artist commissioned to produce a photographic work to present to Shell was out of the country.

Used to being unseen and only heard via the direction of others’ creativity, it was a surprise initially unwelcome, instantly nerve-wracking, but immediately a challenge accepted to ensure the peaceful protest had sufficient visual impact.

With the help of my nine year old daughter (where appropriate), I created a mixed media wreath that included a trash-focused variety of Western-produced petroleum based items including dolls with pin-pierced irises, artfully (ogi) filled condoms and cosmetic smeared cotton pads as well as Nigerian smoked fish, fresh shrimp and banana skins.

Empathetic to the suffering of the Ogoni children and entering into the spirit of the self-commission, my daughter suggested I add her broken doll to my native costume.

She helped me pick out the coral and scallop-motif jewellery to represent our Yoruba lineage and castigate the branding of the multinational we sought to offend.

The smeared kohl and charcoal make-up around my eyes and mouth denoted mourning, mortality and devastation.

The Ogoni and other Niger Delta peoples experience the noxious, greasy and grimy aspects of crude oil pollution every day.

It was an experience going through rush-hour London.

Running late towards Big Ben’s 11 o’clock chiming, the London Underground was the only way to go.

Travelling in such a masquerade, I suspended fear and embarrassment of how I must appear to others and what they might have thought about me.

I felt serene and purposeful, with no need to explain myself.

The collective force of ancestors, those suffering in Ogoniland and those yet to come was keenly felt by my Self and all who encountered me – I really shook the Yoruba security guards at my local Sainsbury’s who lost their usually cool composure and tried to accost me – for who knows what? – as I passed through the foyer.

Shortly afterwards, with the blink of a sooty eye, at the busiest time of day, I was suddenly surrounded by empty tube seats and a clear path to make it the vigil scene just in time!

The wreath was an affront to the senses of sight and smell of those gathered outside and guarding The Shell Centre.

It documented the destruction of the Niger Delta ecosystem and indigenous industries such as Agriculture and Fishing which have been destroyed by crude oil pollution.

The addition of everyday products and household brand packaging also gave pause for reflection on how much global consumption of West African mineral resources has polluted the entire planet – in the long term humanity will surely suffer as the Ogoni do and in the present time, as consumers we are all complicit in the Niger Delta‘s ecocide.

The wreath was accepted by the corporation.

See & Hear: ASH TestamentART™ wreath laying and Platform statement marking 20 Year Commemoration of the Ogoni Nine executions. Shell HQ, 10th November 2015.

Some observers claimed to have heard the headless babe soundlessly beat the talking drum with an immortal war tattoo.

Artists in attendance included acclaimed graphic designer Jon Daniel (d. 2017) and David A. Bailey MBE.

Activists including Platform‘s Suzanne Dhaliwal, NGOs, Ogoni community members and humanitarian American, British and EU citizens came together to read the biographies of the Ogoni 9 and seek justice against ecocide in the Niger Delta and remind the world as Ken Saro-Wiwa wished what “a black day for the Black People” the 10th November 1995 truly was.

In the coming days and months, I will blog on some of the global stakeholders ASH has aligned with the Ogoni cause, the creative commissions we have executed and the projects we are programming to benefit the Bodo Community and boost Wellbeing, Education, Employment and Trade across the Niger Delta states.

Ken Saro-Wiwa‘s last words were:

Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues…

I am happy to continue the struggle until the great work necessary is completed and hope that you will join me.

We live in a time of mass protests against State Brutality and social movement towards political reform and economic equilibrium – from #BlackLivesMatter globally and #EndSARS in Nigeria and with solidarity throughout the Diaspora – we should take this day to reflect on the immortal words of Ken Saro-Wiwa and our motivation to do the right thing for our communities, societies and humanity.

We have life, so there is hope!

Ken Saro-Wiwa once said:

“Whether I live or die is immaterial.

It is enough to know that there are people who commit time, money and energy to fight this one evil among so many others predominating worldwide.

If they do not success today, they will succeed tomorrow.”

If YOU have an intention to create change, establish your purpose or begin a vocation that can serve humanity, let your actions be positive and may progress follow – the future must be brighter than the present for those yet to come.

REGISTER: To attend Dance the Guns to Silence III – Healing Separation, Mobilising Desire by Platform London x MOSOP on Saturday 14th November 2020, 19:00 – 22:00 GMT.

LISTEN: As Ken Henshaw of Social Action (Port Harcourt) shares what the Bus memorial to Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 8 means to the Ogoni struggle for environmental justice in the Niger Delta.

The Bus was made by Sokari Douglas Camp in 2006 and was the result of an international competition to create the Living Memorial to Ken Saro-Wiwa, initiated by Platform.

REMEMBER: The 20 Year Ogoni Nine Execution Commemorative Vigil held by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People and Platform outside The Shell Centre on the morning of November 10th, 2015. and by the Ogoni community in Port Harcourt that night. Shot and edited by Okoro Onyekachi Emmanuel, Film Editor: Media For Justice Project.

LEARN: About the Ogonis admittance to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in 1993 and their representation by MOSOP.

CONSIDER: “It’s Ogoniland today, but it could be your home tomorrow” – a rumination made during the Minority Rights Group International (MRG)’s July 2019 interview with Lazarus Tamana.

READ: Platform‘s account of the 20 Year Commemoration Vigil at The Shell Centre.

DYK? In 2017, widows of the “Ogoni nine” launched a court case in the Netherlands against Shell deeming the corporation complicit in their husbands’ executions.

In May 2019, a Dutch court ruled that it had jurisdiction to determine whether Royal Dutch Shell was complicit in the Nigerian government’s execution of their husbands.

WATCH: The evocative promo for Green Heart Film‘s “Blue In Focus“, an ambitious series documenting the devastating impact of pollution and overfishing on our disrespected planet.

CONTEMPLATE: How your consumption of petroleum-based products from lipstick and fast fashion fabrics to petrol and Tupperware contributes to the environmental destruction of the Niger Delta.

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS: Excessive oil pollution in the Niger Delta contributes to Irregular Migration to the West and Contemporary Enslavement en route as devastated inhabitants seek a better quality of life outside of Nigeria.

© W. O. Adeyemi/ AFRICA: Seen & Heard Ltd and, 2020. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to W. O. Adeyemi, AFRICA: Seen & Heard and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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