UK: International Arts competition launched to commemorate executed writer Ken Saro-Wiwa

Ken Livingstone, Anita Roddick and Ken Wiwa (Ken Saro-Wiwa’s son) will be launching a ground-breaking public art initiative at a fundraising event featuring prominent writers, activists, musicians and artists, including William Boyd, Buchi Emecheta, Helon Habila and Lynton Kwesi Johnson, who are all joining the call to ensure the memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the issues he fought and died for are never forgotten.

The Living Memorial will be Britain’s first deliberately mobile memorial. An international competition will invite inspiring ideas for the project.

A shortlist of five proposals, selected by a panel, will be exhibited in the run-up to 10th November 2005.

As the world turns its attention to Africa in 2005, with Tony Blair’s Africa Commission and major cultural events such as Africa05, a coalition of organisations and individuals encompassing the arts and literature, human rights and environmental and development issues has come together to remember one of Africa’s great icons and to re-focus attention on the ongoing crisis in the Niger Delta.

Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues were executed by the Nigerian Government on 10th November 1995 following their campaign against the devastating environmental impacts of oil companies – including Shell – in the Niger Delta.

Now environment and human rights groups have come together with writers, artists and the Saro-Wiwa family to launch Remember Saro-Wiwa in memory of his life and work.

Ken Wiwa said:

"The issues my father fought and died for are as urgent today in the Niger Delta and around the world as they were in 1995. This exciting project to create a Living Memorial will help to focus the public mind on the non-violent solutions that my father lived and died for and serve to remind us that peace, order and good governance insist that corporations be held accountable for their actions."

Ken Livingstone said:

"Ken Saro-Wiwa was a truly inspirational man. A living, mobile memorial will help ensure that his legacy continues to thrive. This is a unique initiative that will help educate Londoners and people from all across the UK. This memorial should be displayed at all of London's key landmarks, making it accessible to everyone, and ensuring that Ken Saro-Wiwa's memory lives on for decades to come."

Anita Roddick said:

"Ken Saro-Wiwa showed me, through his choices and his activism, what it means to have a moral compass. He encouraged innumerable people to become the agents of change themselves. He gave heart and soul to a movement crying out for justice in a forgotten corner of Africa, to which Britain owes a lot. And for once the world listened. His example inspired a new generation of activists and it is absolutely right that we remember him."

The Living Memorial will focus attention on the ongoing reality of the struggle for social and environmental justice in lands upon which Britain depends for the natural resources that fuel its economy.

It will not be a monument that only remembers the past but one that helps to shape the future.

Project curator, David A. Bailey said:

"Britain's civic spaces are overwhelmingly dominated by centuries of conventional monuments to aristocracy, empire and the military: the significant contributions of people of colour are currently appallingly under-represented in our cultural landscape. The Living Memorial will help to redress this imbalance."

Escalating violence in the Niger Delta, including the razing of villages by the Nigerian military on February 19 and the recent eviction of 5000 people from a shanty town outside Port Harcourt, point to the urgent need to re-focus public attention on the region.

For more information about this event, please visit

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