Monday, June 08, 2009

A Dish Served Cold

In "Shell to Pay $15.5 Million to Settle Nigerian Case," the New York Times reports that the heirs of writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa will be receiving compensation from the Dutch petroleum giant that recognizes the environmental losses of the Ogoni people caused by drilling and the execution of Saro-Wiwa by the Nigerian government at the time.

The news story has a personal resonance for me as well. Over a decade ago, I wrote "'Dis Nigeria Sef': Ken Saro-Wiwa as the Poet who Wasn't" for an issue of Sulfur edited by Marjorie Perloff. According to my c.v., it is the first scholarly article that I ever published. It chronicled Saro-Wiwa's role as a defender of composition in Standard Written English and the debates of Anglophone authors with those who championed writing in regional native languages, such as Ngugi wa Thiong'o. It also detailed aspects of the Internet campaigns aimed to free Saro-Wiwa, which were ultimately unsuccessful.

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