Special Collections


The Ken Saro-Wiwa Archive at Maynooth University

Dr. Íde Corley

In November 2011, Sr Majella McCarron (OLA) presented the Maynooth University Library with an archive of letters, poems and artefacts she’d received from the distinguished Nigerian writer and environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was unlawfully executed at the hands of the Abacha regime in 1995. Her relationship with Saro-Wiwa had stemmed from her time as a lecturer at the University of Lagos in Nigeria the 1990s. When charged by the Vatican with the task of observing the operations of Western multinationals, she’d begun visiting Saro-Wiwa in Lagos office to learn about his opposition to the activities of oil and gas multinationals in his homeland, Ogoni and the wider Niger Delta region.

Shortly after those visits took place in 1993, Saro-Wiwa was detained without charge and McCarron began to correspond with him. But due to an atmosphere of increasing political violence and repression, she was recalled to Ireland in 1994 from where the correspondence continued. In Ireland, she also helped to organise campaigns for Saro-Wiwa’s release. That same year, at Saro-Wiwa’s request, she attended the prestigious Goldman Environment Award ceremony on his behalf in Stockholm and she brought documents and items she’d received from the imprisoned writer to Stockholm for an exhibition. Some of these, including, his visor cap and a signed Ogoni flag, were included in her donation. Maynooth University now holds the documents and artefacts from this critical period in Saro-Wiwa’s life in our Special Collections.

The contents of this valuable archive shed light on the exploitative activities of oil and gas multinationals in the Niger Delta in the 1990s and have an ongoing role in contributing lessons to our understanding of human rights, climate action and the role of writing and art in social movements. Read below for more details. For information about the Ken Saro-Wiwa Archive, email: ide.corley@mu.ie