Morley College, Lambeth, London
Internationally renowned Lambeth based artist, Sokari Douglas Camp CBE grew up in the Niger Delta. Many of her public art works confront historic injustices. In 2005 Platform, who combine art, activism, education and research for social and ecological justice commissioned Sokari to create ‘Battle Bus – the Living Memorial to Ken Saro-Wiwa’.
Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists were executed by the military government of Nigeria in 1995 after accusing oil companies of ‘practising genocide against the Ogoni people’.
Battle Bus is a full-scale replica of a Nigerian steel bus, which stands as a monument to the late Niger Delta activist and writer and accompanying campaign #ActionSaroWiwa. A spokesperson for the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People said, ‘The bus is a symbol of our struggle. Now that Ken is not with us…It will give us so much happiness and strength.’
For Journey to Justice, Sokari’s work – stunning steel sculptures – is a perfect example of the role of art as human rights activism whether in response to injustice or as way of galvanising hope and unity and inspiring us to feel and act:
‘Art is direct, it challenges the authorities, the power structure’ (Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr 1968-2016)
Through interviews with artists, activists and family members, Dassoler’s documentary presents its history, the impacts caused by the oil exploration in the Delta and the political and cultural relevance of artistic projects in London dedicated to its memory.
Elisa Dassoler is a PhD in Visual Arts, geographer and filmmaker with particular interest in documentary films, activism and the fight against environmental racism.