Politics of Bones: Dr. Owens Wiwa and the Struggle for Nigeria's Oil


436 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7710-4154-3
DDC 966.905'3'092




Reviewed by Barb Bloemhof

Barb Bloemhof is an assistant professor in the Department of Sport
Management at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.


Politics of Bones traces the key events that surround the death of Ken
Saro-Wiwa gathered by Hunt primarily from many hours of personal
interviews with Saro-Wiwa’s brother, Dr. Monday Owens Wiwa.

Saro-Wiwa was an entrepreneur and the de facto representative of the
Ogoni people in their quest, through debate and non-violent protest, for
both self-representation in Nigeria and environmental remediation from
Royal Dutch/Shell, which had significant drilling operations in the
Ogoni homeland since the late 1950s. Despite the intervention of several
consular representatives, including the Canadian High Commissioner in
Lagos, Saro-Wiwa died after being convicted by a military tribunal of
apparently unsubstantiated charges, under a suspicious set of
circumstances involving the interests of the Nigerian government. In
addition, members of Saro-Wiwa’s family risked their personal safety,
apparently just for being related to Ken Saro-Wiwa, whose popularity
with the Ogoni people represented a powerful destabilizing force to the

The report is presented in an empathetic yet convincing tone, filling
in many of the gaps between what appeared in Western media during that
time. That foreign companies can get into significant trouble when
pursuing opportunities abroad is a well-replicated finding; however, the
skeptical reader should consider that if even a third of what Hunt
reports is accurate, the Ogonis and Mr. Saro-Wiwa suffered a grave
miscarriage of justice. The message for foreign companies operating
abroad is that neutral experts should be sent to personally and
thoroughly investigate charges made by people in whose lands they are
guests, and to act immediately on what they find, including remediation
and compensation.

Politics of Bones deserves a wide reading.


Hunt, J. Timothy., “Politics of Bones: Dr. Owens Wiwa and the Struggle for Nigeria's Oil,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/15947.