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The Ballad of Ken Saro-Wiwa

The execution of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his associates by the Nigerian military in 1995 remains a continuing grievance of both the environmental community and those seeking justice for indigenous peoples. As a part of my work in the area of international human rights, I have written a song about Ken called Once a River.

The song has been publicly performed by my daughter Lisa Klotz, most recently at a concert sponsored by the NYC Friends of Clearwater. Because of the fine reception the song has received and requests of other singers for the lyrics, I have posted the lyrics on this page. You can also hear the second verse.

                        Once a River

by John Klotz

Once a river,
flowed gently to the sea.
Through a delta,
greener than green should be.
Now, in that delta,
a people struggle to be free.
And Ken Saro-Wiwa,
died for you and me.

He was a poet,
and he wrote his peoples' song.
He was a leader,
who spoke against the wrong.
and they killed him,
because his Word was so strong.
Ken Saro-Wiwa,
died for you and me.

(First Bridge)
They took gold from Shell Oil.
They took gold to spoil,
the Niger delta
where the Ogoni toil.
They had no choice,
when Ken raised his voice,
and the people joined
in jubilee.

First they chained him,
but he would not stay bound.
Then they starved him,
still he rose up from the ground.
So they hanged him,
and eight friends around.
Ken Saro-Wiwa,
died for you and me.

(Second Bridge)
"Lord take may soul,
but the struggle continues,"
those were his last words
on that day.
It was their plan,
to silence a man,
but his words will never
die away.

Come my brothers,
dance away your fears.
Come my sisters,
dance away your tears.
He'll be with us,
as we struggle through the years,
Ken Saro-Wiwa,
lives in you and me.

Ken Saro-Wiwa,
lives eternally.

copyright, 1997, John Klotz, NYC

You can sample the second verse of the song.
It may takes several seconds to load large (170k) file.

If any one wishes the music, you may E-Mail me.

You may download the entire song in "AU" format.
This is a one megabit file and may take sometime to download.
If prompted, use your E-Mail address as your password.

  These lyrics may be used for live performance but not commercially recorded and distributed without my further permission. If you use the song for a live performance, you must introduce it with the following statement: "This is a song written by John Klotz of the Sierra Club."

Selected Web links on Ken Saro-Wiwa

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