Thursday, November 10, 2005

If you haven't already discovered wikipedia you're missing out on the best site on the web. It's essentially an open-source encyclopedia that anyone and everyone is free to contribute to. You'd think that the resulting entries would lack a certain grace and style, but in fact they're extremely erudite. The best part is that every cross-reference, even every tiny mention of another topic has a link associated with it - so you can effectively get lost on the site, clicking from subject to subject, getting deeper and deeper into detail and then resurfacing in a new subject... and all the while you're learning about fascinating things.

A long time ago I had heard that Shell (the petroleum company) was exploiting the African people and environment in its search for new oil deposits. For a brief while I attempted to boycott Shell, but I never heard anything else on the subject and pretty much forgot about it. Then today I found some information on wikipedia about a Nigerian named Saro-Wiwa who was one of the most vocal opponents of Shell's destructive tendencies and of the Nigerian military government's repression. He was executed by the government 10 years ago to the day - here is a statement made by him just before his execution:

"I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is on trial here, and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learned here may prove useful to it, for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war the company has waged in the delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of the company's dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished.

On trial also is the Nigerian nation, its present rulers and all those who assist them. I am not one of those who shy away from protesting injustice and oppression, arguing that they are expected of a military regime. The military do not act alone. They are supported by a gaggle of politicians, lawyers, judges, academics and businessmen, all of them hiding under the claim that they are only doing their duty, men and women too afraid to wash their pants of their urine.

We all stand on trial, my lord, for by our actions we have denigrated our country and jeopardised the future of our children. As we subscribe to the subnormal and accept double standards, as we lie and cheat openly, as we protect injustice and oppression, we empty our classrooms, degrade our hospitals, and make ourselves the slaves of those who subscribe to higher standards, who pursue the truth, and honour justice, freedom and hard work."

The Anniversary EP will be out in a week.

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