Sunday 11 December 2016

Nun donates letters from Nobel Peace nominee

Published 11/11/2011 | 05:00

A NUN who became the lifeline to a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and renowned Nigerian social activist while he was on death row has donated a cache of his letters to an Irish university.

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The 30 letters secretly penned by author Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was peacefully campaigning against the destruction of his homeland by oil exploration, had survived being smuggled out of the Nigeria's Port Harcourt detention centre in bread baskets as he awaited execution from 1993-1995.

Missionary nun Sister Majella McCarron, from the parish of Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, said she had realised the importance of the letters and had carefully stored the correspondence, in addition to 27 poems and seven video cassettes, over the years.

"We used them at vigils. He was a writer and journalist as well," she said.

On the 16th anniversary of his execution along with eight others -- which took place on November 10, 1995 -- she handed the collection to NUI Maynooth for the use of its students.

One of the letters highlighted his interest in the Northern Ireland peace process, as on September 16, 1994, he wrote "I see the situation in N Ireland has improved tremendously".

In 1993, Sr Majella first encountered Mr Saro-Wiwa and the campaigning group of Ogoni people struggling to protect their homeland in Nigeria against oil and gas interests.

Irish Independent

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