Burial rites for Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni Nine: implications for modern society
AbstractThis study examined the burial rites given to the ‘Ogoni Nine’ activists from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The study adopted the anthropological, philosophical and sociological approaches. Findings from the study revealed that the ‘Ogoni Nine’ include Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kobel and John Kpuine who were executed by hanging by the military government of General Sani Abacha in 1995. These were Ogoni heroes who fought and died for the Ogoni struggle for survival in Nigeria. The Ogoni were not happy with both the multi-national oil company (Shell – SPDC) and the Federal Government of Nigeria of the careless, tormenting and humiliating ways the corpses of these heroes were handled at death and buried at the Port Harcourt cemetery outside Ogoni land. In Ogoni tradition, the type of burial given to these activists was meant for those who died a bad death and not for heroes such as the Ogoni nine who died in the struggle for survival of their people. Important aspects of the rites accorded, good death at burial were denied them. Traditional burial was organised for these Ogoni heroes by their people to retrieve, transform and purify their bodies and souls from the abode of evil forces. In the Ogoni traditional religion, it is a taboo and a thing that attracts bad omen to society of the living if the heads of their heroes are buried outside or left at the war front away from home. This belief and practices amongst others informed the Ogonis’ demand for a monument that will stand in memories of them to be constructed in Ogoni land.
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