Literature

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May 22 marks the first anniversary of the detention of Ken Saro- Wiwa by the Nigerian government. In the last 12 months, he has been tortured, denied medical assistance and, despite being refused legal counsel, belatedly charged with offences that carry the death penalty.

The explanation for this catalogue of injustices is quite transparent. Ken Saro-Wiwa (below) has dared to help organise peaceful protests on behalf of the Ogoni, an ethnic minority whose lands have been decimated by three decades of relentless and reckless drilling by Western oil companies like Shell. As a result of catastrophic pollution, the Ogoni now have to import food in order to survive. More than 1,000 Ogoni have been killed in the last year. Although the plight of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his people has now come to international attention (Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace and PEN International are all monitoring the situation), it is clear that in the case of the former, something needs to be done - swiftly.

At first glance, an anniversary benefit in this country might seem an inadequate gesture, but the series of readings and music that will take place on Monday will not only raise awareness but also generate money badly needed for legal support. As well as appearances from novelists Ben Okri and Lee Langley, and persecuted writers like Jack Mapanje from Malawi and Chenjerai Hove from Zimbabwe, there will be music from Ayub Ogada, Joe Mogototsi and Kaago, an Ivory Coast dance and drumming band. Speaks for itself.

22 May, 7pm, Arts Depot, Turnhalle, 26 Pancras Road, King's Cross (0171- 278 0999) pounds 15. More info on the World Wide Web: www.the-body-shop.com.

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