In The Shadow of a Saint
Ken Saro-Wiwa was a legend and martyr after Nigerian military government executed him.
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2008 17:15 GMT

Filmmaker: Richard Meech
Producer: Mark Johnston

Ken Saro-Wiwa with his son, Ken Wiwa Jr
In the early 1990s, the little-known, oil-rich Ogoni region in Nigeria became a fable for our time. Ken Saro-Wiwa, a renowned poet and environmentalist, was peacefully campaigning to protect his Ogoni people against the encroachments of Shell Oil and a brutal dictatorship. In 1995 he became a legend and martyr when he was imprisoned, tortured, and executed by the military government.

But Ken Saro-Wiwa's legacy has endured. At the heart of the public campaign to save his vision was another Ken Wiwa, his eldest son. Ken Wiwa Jr became a fierce advocate for the Ogoni people, travelling around the world, lobbying world leaders and mobilizing public opinion, in the hope that his father's sacrifice would not be in vain.

Ken Wiwa Jr
In The Shadow of A Saint is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a child of an extraordinary freedom fighter.  Narrated by Ken Wiwa Jr, who is now based in Toronto, the film chronicles his journey back to Nigeria, to have his father’s bones laid to rest in a proper burial.

Along the way, Ken must come to terms with his often stormy relationship with his father, who wanted his son to join the struggle, while Ken fought to be independent. He also seeks insight by speaking to similar Africans in his predicament, such as Zindzi Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s daughter, and Nathi Biko, son of Steve Biko, who was murdered by the South African police in 1977 for fighting apartheid.

"To his people, Ken Saro-Wiwa is a saint," Ken Wiwa says. "I’m Ken Wiwa, his eldest son. The people see me as my father’s replacement. But I’m hoping that with this funeral, I will finally escape his shadow and be my own man."

A compelling film not only about a man and his son but a journey through the tumultuous passage of time in search of answers from the past.

This episode of Witness is scheduled to air on Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 1900GMT.

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