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Ken Saro-Wiwa 'Hating Abacha is a waste of time', slain writer's daughter says

Ken Saro-Wiwa's daughter says her family won't waste time hating on Abacha for hanging her dad.

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Ken Saro-Wiwa play

Ken Saro-Wiwa


In 1994, General Sani Abacha ordered for the arrest of writer and environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Saro-Wiwa was accused of being behind the deaths of four Ogoni chiefs. On November 10, 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues were hanged. In this exclusive interview with Pulse, the late Ken Saro-Wiwa's daughter, Noo Saro-Wiwa says her family has no ill feelings toward Abacha.

How would you define the legacy of the General Sani Abacha regime?

The regime reached such lows that a return to democracy was the only option: the Commonwealth had expelled Nigeria, and British Airways suspended its flights after my father and his eight colleagues were murdered. The Abacha years increased the cynicism and distrust among Nigerians, which served to entrench corruption.

20 years after the death of General Sani Abacha play Noo Saro-Wiwa says Nigeria has to rebuild and forget Abacha (robertozaugg)


In recent years, some Nigerians have started to see the Abacha regime in a favourable light. What are your thoughts on this?

The idea that we can look back favourably on the 90s is strange. It shows how low our expectations have fallen. There was no press freedom or space for political protests in those days, and child mortality was lower. As a nation, we need to stop looking backwards and start thinking forwards. Recycling old leaders hasn’t worked.

Considering your family's history with Abacha, would it be right to say you hate the late dictator?

No, my family doesn’t hate him. We don’t waste our mental energy on someone like him. Abacha was one of the most brutal dictators but he was also the symptom of Nigeria’s problems, which means there were other men equally capable of doing what he did.

Nigeria wants to share the recovered $322 million looted by ex-military leader, Abacha, with poor citizens play Gen Sani Abacha ordered the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others (The Nation )


Many players were involved in the murder of the Ogoni Nine, and millions of people besides our family have suffered. So my anger is diffused in many directions within this morally bankrupt system. It’s not all about one dead man.

What are your thoughts on democracy in Nigeria?

Social media and camera phones have boosted transparency to a small degree. But from what I understand, ballots are still fixed in some states. And the fact that someone like Buhari could return to power on a wave of optimism proves that people power doesn’t deliver good results.

Noo Saro Wiwa play Noo Saro-Wiwa says the under 40 can be the saving grace for Nigeria (Gustave Deghilage/robertozaugg )


A healthy democracy requires an interdependence between voters, business, politicians and the media. We don’t have that set-up in Nigeria, which is why politicians can still get away with failure and venality.

20 years after his death, how would you describe the progress made by Nigeria in terms of governance and politics?

That’s a very big question. There are more technocrats, and the political scene is not as strongly ethnic based as before, but we still have no electricity and other basic amenities. No administration has dealt with Boko Haram effectively or addressed its root causes, and we still depend too much on oil revenues. It feels rather cyclical. I have much more hope in the younger generation, however. The under-40s will be the ones to turn things around.

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