Nigeria has come a long over the years. The country survived several military interruptions but came out strong to become a democratic nation. That is why May 29th of every year is the time to celebrate Nigeria’s continuous stay in democracy. It did not come easy though. Several Nigerians played a major role in fighting for the return of the country to democratic rule. We celebrate some of these unforgettable individuals:
Gani was a Nigerian author, well-respected publisher, philanthropist, social critic, seasoned human and civil rights lawyer, politician and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). According to reports, the fierce and firebrand lawyer was always ready to go to prison because of his severe criticism of the military government of that time. He did this at a time when many so-called political activists went underground. He died from lung cancer at the age of 71 in September 2009.
Fela was a thorn in the flesh of the military through his Afrobeat songs. His songs reverberated in heart of many Nigerians and brought the atrocities of the military to the fore, As usual, the military authorities responded by imprisoning him and banning his songs. His mother died Funmilayo Ransome Kuti died as a result of Fela’s political activities.
Kenule “Ken” Beeson Saro Wiwa (10 October 1941 – 10 November 1995) was a Nigerian writer, television producer, environmental activist, and winner of the Right Livelihood Award and the Goldman Environmental Prize. In 1990, Saro-Wiwa began devoting most of his time to human rights and environmental causes, particularly in Ogoniland. He was one of the earliest members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), which advocated for the rights of the Ogoni people. He was executed for his human rights activities by General Sani Abacha.
Prof. Wole Soyinka
Prof. Wole Soyinka is a Nobel prize winner that fought against the oppressive military rule. He was very critical of the Nigerian military dictators, and of political tyrannies, especially during the government of General Sani Abacha (1993–1998). A death sentence was pronounced on him “in absentia” after escaping from the country. While abroad, he visited parliaments and conferred with world leaders to impose a regime of sanctions against the brutal Abacha regime. These actions and his setting up of the Radio Kudirat helped immensely in securing Nigeria’s return to civilian democratic governance. When civilian rule returned in 1999, Soyinka returned to a hero’s welcome back in Lagos, Nigeria.
Bagauda Kaltho was one of the journalists who fought for Nigeria’s democracy through their pen. For the military, the pen was truly mightier than the sword. Kaltho worked for The News and TEMPO magazines. He was kidnapped and killed, because of his writings that were completely at odds with the military administration of Sani Abacha. Photos of the writer are hard to come by, as journalists speak through their pen, rather than in photos or videos.