30 pages 1 hour read

Ken Saro-Wiwa

Africa Kills Her Sun

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1975

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Authorial Context: Kenule “Ken” Beeson Saro-Wiwa

Born in 1941 to an Ogoni family in the Niger Delta, Saro-Wiwa grew up under the control of a military dictatorship. Although he had always dreamed of becoming an academic, circumstances led to his ascension as an activist. He devoted his time, efforts, and ultimately his life to protecting the Niger Delta, a region located in southeastern Nigeria known for its petroleum reserves and home to the Ogoni, an ethnic minority of Nigeria.

As an Ogoni witnessing the atrocities committed by the government and by foreign corporations against his people, Saro-Wiwa spoke and wrote about these ills and advocated for the rights of Nigeria’s Indigenous peoples. Saro-Wiwa’s literature is inextricable from his activism, for his writings were in service of his belief in emancipation. For Saro-Wiwa, literature combats ignorance and indifference by shedding light on a country’s social condition. It combats colonizing and internal forces that aim to undermine efforts for Indigenous self-determination. Self-determination is defined to be a people’s right to seek and explore their own social, economic, and cultural development.

While Saro-Wiwa’s “Africa Kills Her Sun” is a work of fiction, the political background of the piece, as well as the main character’s point of view, is informed by Saro-Wiwa’s own experiences as a Nigerian man living under a military dictatorship.