Not Past It - Murder in Ogoniland

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Hear the call of the ravaged land.

The Rockers Cry of feminist Earth.

Here 0 here.

Stunted crops fast.

Decay fish has died and float away butterflies lose wing and fall neater.


So comes to the ecological War.


In early January of 1993 300,000 ogoni people marched to their traditional capital city in the Niger.

Delta to protest against Royal Dutch Shell.

For nearly four decades, she’ll had been drilling a no-go, Neil and a region in southern Nigeria and their operations had caused widespread and devastating pollution by the early 90s.


The Oconee people were Fed up, they demanded that.

She’ll stop Drilling and clean up their land, but their protest attracted, the attention of Nigeria’s, brutal, dictatorship hell-bent, on silencing anyone who threatened to stop the flow of oil.


From gimlet media.

This is not past it a show about the stories.

We can’t quite leave behind every episode.

We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how its shape our world.

I’m Simone plannin in November of 1995, 26 years ago.


This month, the plight of the Oconee people finally captured, the world’s attention, the demonstrators from Lagos to London.

Read the atrocities taking place in Nigeria today on the show.


A David and Goliath story about how one Community led.

By a charismatic leader took on a dictator, his ruthless right-hand, man.

And one of the biggest oil companies in the world that’s coming up.


The ogoni had inherited a Precious part of God’s Earth and did everything to preserve.

It, the rich Plateau soil, provided agriculture, plenty, and rivers, which wash the bottles of the entire area bring food with fishes and Seafood.


These are the words of author and political journalist Ken Sarah.

We wha Ken is no longer with us.

So we asked the actor venga aqui na, ba to read some of his writing, which you’ll hear throughout the episode, Ken grew up the son of a chief in Oconee land ago.


Neil, and is a kingdom in the River State of Nigeria and spans about 600 square miles along the country’s southern coast when Ken was growing.

Up, the area, was home to roughly half a million people.

It was a lush green fertile, land with Meandering, Rivers, oxbow lakes and thick mangroves, full of life.


You gonna seize the opportunity to become competent farmers and fishermen and transform their territory into the food basket of the entire Eastern Niger.


People would come from all over Nigeria to purchase Oconee agricultural products, things like palm oil or gauri, a type of flower the ogoni people, worshipped their land nurtured it and in turn built a way of life around its abundance a way of life that was threatened by the arrival of a multinational Oil Company.


In 1958 that year, the British imperialist government welcomed Royal Dutch Shell into the region.

Turns out Nigeria was sitting on top of one of the largest reserves of petroleum and all of Africa.

She’ll started exploring and Drilling and without political power.


The ogoni had no say in what happened to their land.

Pretty soon.

They’re Lush Greenery and dense.

Riverbanks stood, transformed by oil wells and Pipelines.

And the IGG name, there are this orange glow all over the place yesterday, gas flaring.


That was going on 24 hours a day.

And as I’m going on in very close, proximity to people’s homes.

This is Owens.

We wha Ken’s brother?

He’s a doctor, and during the late 80s and early 90s.

He was treating patients in Oconee land and his practice.


He was seeing the effects of not only gas flares but thousands of oil spills caused by shells aging infrastructure.

I knew that there is a problem or well.

But the type of patients I’m saying I where they are coming from either.


This I’m outbreak if I can’t call it that of respiratory diseases, people just called severe rashes all over their body.

Owens is patients were suffering the effects of the oil.

That was saturating their land.

Respiratory disease, kidney damage diabetes.


Premature births cancer.

The oil spills weren’t just poisoning, Oconee bodies.

They were poisoning Oconee land and water.

If you caught a fish, its gills might be black.


If you dug into the soil, you quickly, reach the oil.

Crop yields dropped dramatically, both in size and in nutritional value, so you can’t family, comes fish when you don’t eat where starvation, I can die of starvation.


So this carry the community was dying people in the community where die Owens is brother?

Ken was growing increasingly distraught.

We are faced with a situation where we have no food to eat.


No water to drink, no homes to leave and worst of all.

No air to breathe.

At the same time that his brother was seeing very ill patients can was turning to activism.


He’d been a renaissance man of sorts a writer, a publisher, even a TV producer for one of Nigeria’s, most famous sitcoms, but he set that all aside to focus on one Mission restoring Agony land.


There is a fire in me.

Burns all night and day.

Players at Injustice leaps at oppression.

Blows warmly in Beauty.

Can started to write and talk about the destruction of his homeland and more severe terms, what she’ll was doing and what the government was facilitating, wasn’t just destroying the ogoni environment.


He insisted it was genocide against the Oconee people.

He spoke about this in a speech he gave to a crowd of Agony, residence.


People have been cheated.


Through laws such as I operated in Nigeria today, through political marginalization.


They have driven certain people to death in recovering.

The money that has been stolen from us.

I do not want any blood spilt.

We are going to demand our rights peacefully non-violently and we shall.


We can along with other ago, knee activists put these Ideas down and the oogonia Bill of Rights in 1990 asserting deal.

Go knees demands for political autonomy.

That same year Ken and other oogonia activists formed an organization called the movement for the survival of the Oconee people or mosop for short.


Well, soap is marching on o ghani must survive.

What’s up?

We’ll never stop till ago.

Nice free was so keeps marching on more soap is an arm of Peace can called on the organi people to keep marching on in January of 1993 Ken.


Organized and led the massive demonstration.

We told you about at the top of the show with his brother Owens at his side, many of the people, you saw their have tread for 12 miles.

Starting from about, you know, for 5:00 a.m.


In the morning.

I’m at this were ordinary men and women from The Villages Owens and Ken were expecting a fairly decent turnout, maybe three or four thousand people, but on the day of the, March 300 thousand, protesters showed up two-thirds of the entire ogoni population.


The brothers were And the people have thrown away this year that they have the fear of share by people who were coming to assess the right for good environments.


But if people who were coming to say look, you cannot continue to poison Island.


I are and poison our water and drain the life.

The way from us, here’s Ken reflecting on that day.


It was wonderful to see, people who had been do sell for so long.

It was good to see fear, no longer a part of them.

And on that day, when I saw the large number of people streaming into buried in their, various Villages already, felt a sense of fulfillment.


I if I had died, The after that, I would have died a very happy man.


The protest was a success over the course of the next several months.

She’ll pulled their employees out of a go Neal and eventually, they stopped drilling entirely.


It was a huge step, but the land was still blighted.

There were no reparations in sight.

The ogoni people were still hurting the fight was very much.

Not over, especially not for Ken.


He felt very much that he was an Agony man.

This is not a Sarah.

We were Ken’s daughter.

He didn’t think.

In terms of being an individual, he had that very kind of traditional African mentality, which is that you don’t exist alone.


As an individual, you are your community.

And so if your community is suffering, then you are suffering.

If your community dies, then you die.

Ken devoted himself to his communities cause.

But as he told his daughter and a letter, he knew he was taking a huge risk.


She said that they could kill him because of the campaign he started.

And I remember being quite angry with him at the time because I felt that he was scaremongering, but Ken was being Honest, he’d kicked the Hornet’s Nest and he knew they were coming for him.


Stingers first.

That’s after the break genocide of the Oconee had taken a new dimension.

The manner of it.

I will narrate in my next book.

If I live to tell the tale.


Before the break Ken Sarah.

We will let the ogoni people in protest over the state of their polluted Homeland, and it seemed like his efforts were working shell had pulled out of Agony land, But Ken had a big problem, the dictatorship that controlled Nigeria wanted shell to keep Drilling and they were scared the protests in Oconee land would Inspire other suffering communities in the Niger, Delta to rise up to In November of 1993, a new dictator seized power in a coup.


And this new dictator brought on an enforcer.

And this is what we need to introduce the arch villain of this story.

A guy by the name of Paul local team.

He’s a lieutenant colonel in the Nigerian SSS and he is a terrifying individual.


This is Roy Doran, an assistant professor of history at Winston-Salem University, and co-author of a biography about Ken sorrow, we wha the new dictator gave Okun Timo and assignment to deal with the Oconee and he did he ordered nightly raids into Agony Villages?


His soldiers, detained people and tortured them raped women and girls and killed hundreds.

Oakland Timo even held meetings with Oconee leadership.

Warning them.

The violence would continue if they didn’t stop protesting at one meeting.


He reportedly.

Boasted about?

Having learned 204 ways to kill a person.

But Owens we want says the protest movement wouldn’t be so easily.


So what did they was to repeat the cycle of violence to intimidate Us in order to stop the protest, but the more violence that brought the more people protested. 20 more people.


The violence, that Oakland Timo was orchestrating.

He wasn’t just acting on behalf of the Nigerian government.

He was also acting on behalf of shell on several occasions shell requested.

The military’s assistance to deal with protests knowing full.


Well, the violence, they were capable of.

Plus there’s substantial evidence that Oakland.

Timo was being paid by shell directly according to a New York Times.

Report, the company was also transporting and paying the salary bonuses of some, of the soldiers who are carrying out Okun, timo’s attacks shell, made it clear.


They wanted the protests to stop which meant essentially stopping one man.

Can Sarah.

We were finally, they got their chance in the spring of 1994.

Ken was on his way to a political rally at a Negroni Palace.


But the military wouldn’t let him in supposedly sorrow.

We was supporters got mad.

That several email was not able to attend this meeting this rally, and they got so mad that they just stormed the palace and beat these for people to death.

That’s the story that’s told.


The government, blamed the violence on Ken.

They fabricated this story that Ken and his supporters had planned.

The murder of these four people.

All of them oogonia Chiefs, who’d been critical of mosop.

The next day, the Nigerian police showed up at Ken’s door and arrested him.


His brother Owens heard about it soon, after I go to call that my brother.

Has been arrested in his house.

So, why would he be arrested in this house?

That’s all that’s for the cheese died and that you was responsible.


The government arrested.

A dozen other oogonia, activists blaming all of them.

For the four murders, when Owens found out there was a warrant out for his arrest, he fled to safety, but other family members weren’t so lucky.

The military beat Ken’s wife, his sister-in-law even his aging mother.


When Ken’s family.

Stead o Kuhn team arrested two of his half-brothers.

I’ll I’m Anna Colden chain in caves of your callous care, but the day will come.

When I will break your heart, bones with my clothes.


Tear your brain.

Consume you in Rockford fires to the wild, winds expose, you paint the crew landmarks of your seen on the walls of History.


Can and the other Oconee activists were held for more than a year without sufficient access to legal representation or medical care, while Ken was in prison.

Owens arranged.

A meeting with the chairman of shell, asking him to help get his brother out of prison.


Instead the chairman told Owens.

He would help only if certain conditions were met.

He asked me the rise of press statement that there is no environmental devastation.

I’m a bully last before you help me.

I’m also make sure that the protests against share around the world stops.


I once wrote to Ken of shells request Ken wrote back.

He would only call off the protests if she’ll stopped polluting started cleaning up the land and made sure there was freedom for those detained.

But the chairman of shell sat on his hands.


I’m of course.

He did not ask.

Because I sent it for Seven Brothers to die.

They preferred his brother to die.

Eventually, Ken, 1/8 of the activists were charged some with murder others with incitement to murder the military dictatorship.


Under the leadership of Sani abacha set up a special tribunal Okun.

Teemo is always there at the trial, and he is such a fearsome, individual that, of course, no one is going to contradict him because they see what happens to anyone.


One that attempts to go against abacha’s regime.

At the end of October of 1995, a verdict was handed down.

The 90 goni.


Activists were sentenced to death, Ken wrote a statement for the sentencing hearing.

He was never allowed to read it.

I predict that the scene here will be played and replayed by Generations yet Unborn.


Some have already cast themselves in the role of villains.

Some are tragic victims.

Some still have a chance to redeem themselves.

The choice is for each individual.

When the announcement was made that the Oconee nine had been sentenced to death.


It sparked International, outrage, governments from around the world.

Are denouncing action taken by Nigeria’s military.

Government at the center of the controversy, nine political activists, whether the government of this oil-rich West African nation, boughs to International appeals, May determine whether these men live or die.


Demonstrators held Candlelight vigils and Ken’s name Greenpeace and other organizations criticized shell for their inaction and put pressure on them to voice their opposition.

But she’ll dragged their feet.


They said it would be dangerous and wrong for them to intervene and to use the company’s perceived influence to have the Judgment overturned.

Public pressure didn’t let up.

And eventually after being silent during the entirety of Ken’s trial, one executive in charge of shells, Nigerian operations, sent a personal letter to the dictator, asking the death sentence to be commuted.


Just one letter.

But nothing came of it.

I am not careless of my safety, but I do recognize and have always recognized that my calls could lead to death.


But as the saying goes.

How can man die better than facing fearful odds for the ashes of his forefathers and the temples of his Gods on November 10th. 1995 can and the rest of the Oconee.


Nine were hanged, human rights activist mourned in London.

And other European capitals today.

Condemning yesterday’s.

Tens of Rider and environmentalist can Sarah we-wha and eight other, Nigerian dissidents, the nine executed activists were from an oil producing area in Southwestern, Nigeria.


They had been charged with murder and sentenced after what some people called a sham trial Ken’s daughter.

Nah, who was a teenager at the time found out what happened that afternoon?

My mother told me and then I also been saw it in the newspapers, the following morning.


And I was just, I was really.

I’m shocked.

I was crying.

It was very surreal because I didn’t consider my father, a famous person.

And so it’s just very strange because it was reported everywhere, but you couldn’t see his body or anything.


So it was shocking and it’s still shocking, 25 years on.

After the execution Owens and his family fled to Canada.

It would be four years before he made it back to Nigeria to mourn.


His brother.

It took me a long time until I went back to Nigeria.

I’m actually so his range and his watch.

So believe that what has happened has happened.


Well, I was Justice.

Where was fairness.

Where was God?

So I’ll an innocent man to be killed in that manner.

It still doesn’t make sense to me today.

In response to Ken’s murder, many world leaders including in the United States called for economic sanctions bands on arms, sales and rules prohibiting.


Any new investment in Nigeria.

The United States halted military sales to Nigeria’s dictatorship and joined several other Western Nations and calling home.

Its Ambassador, but World outraged stopped short of taking the strongest step imposing an oil embargo.


An oil embargo was the one thing that would have made a difference but no one stepped up because any government that could have followed through on that threat was and still is dependent on Nigeria’s oil.

All tyrants.


No, but in a way they have the upper hand because they have no sense of morality.

They all know that they can do things and say things that the world would be outraged at but that ultimately Money is the most important thing.


But natural resources are the most important thing.

People will put aside their moral outrage governments will put aside their moral outrage in order to access that oil, as long as governments.


Keep letting the oil industry, get its way, giving them billions of dollars in subsidies and allowing them to Lobby against any substantial regulations.

We’re going to stay in this fish.

Cycle a cycle where we turn our eyes away from our polluted environment, a warming world and the people who are dying because of it.


It’s the way the world really.

It’s you know, how do we break that stuff that Stranglehold?

How can you give agency to the little people on the ground?

Despite everything that happened to my father, you know the things that he wanted for the Niger, Delta they haven’t happened yet.


But things are starting to change just this year to Legal victories were ruled in favor of Nigerian Farmers.

The first order.

A Nigerian subsidiary of shell to compensate Farmers for damages to their land.


The second ruled that in some circumstances communities, who are harmed by shell can sue shell directly, which gives them a better chance of forcing the company to clean up the environment.

And the ogoni resistance has inspired other communities to speak out to in virtually every nation state.


They are several go, nice, despairing and disappearing people.


The yolks of political marginalization economic strangulation and environmental degradation, or a combination of these unable to lift a finger to save themselves.


What is their future?

Pain sorrow.

We were understood the power.

He had to shift, what he could not stand and with the collective action of other most OP activists and the larger ogoni Community.

He did he sacrificed his life and service of extending the life of his people even in his last breaths before he was executed.


He recognized that he was one voice in a movement of thousands.


Stephen Lord, take my soul.

He said but the struggle continues.


Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media.

This episode was produced by Sarah Craig.

Next week.

We bust some Thanksgiving myths.

Before this day is over.

Every sympathizer will go back to their homes with a different thought about what Thanksgiving Day means to the Native American.


The rest of our team is producer, Amy, Padula, our associate producers are Julie Carly and Ramona Philip.

The supervising producer is Erica Morrison editing by Mauro Waltz, Andrea be Scott and Zach Stewart Ponte benga.

Akina Bay.


Played Kens Sarah.

We were and are Recreations.

He was recorded by Sam bear at Relic room fact-checking by Jane, Ackerman sound design and mixing by Hans Dale.

She original music by Kicks Ave.

Willie Green, J blasts and Bobby Lord.


Our theme song is touka.

Liana by cocoa with music supervision by Liz Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman, the executive producer at CSP media is Zach Stewart Ponte a, the executive producer from gimlet is Abbie.


Ruzicka, special.

Thanks to eat a coralie, Brenda Flora, Sola.

Adeyemi Helen Fallon Sydnee Redman.

And Lydia Pole Green, Dan Behar and Claire Sankey Emily wiedemann list Styles and Nabil.

Cho Lampard, follow not past it.


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Thanks for hanging.

We’ll see you next week.

Give us the wisdom and Strength.



Oh, goni, Lon.

This is as good as it gets.