Open Access publishing of a unique and distinctive collection: The Maynooth University Death-Row Correspondence of Ken Saro-Wiwa
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Daraja Press published Silence Would be Treason: Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa in 2013 and 2018 (2 nd edition). The book, edited by Helen Fallon, Ide Corley and Laurence Cox from Maynooth University, contains the death-row correspondence of Saro-Wiwa and related material. His letters to Sister Majella McCarron (OLA) were smuggled out of military detention in breadbaskets. McCarron donated the letters to Maynooth University Library in 2013. Saro-Wiwa and eight colleagues (The Ogoni 9) were executed by the then Nigerian military government in 1995, for protesting about the environmental destruction of his homeland Ogoni, in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria by the international chemical industry. The publication of the book was partially funded by Trócaire, an Irish aid organisation, with the stipulation that the book be available free of charge to non-profit community organisations here and in Nigeria. Daraja (KiSwahili word for “bridge) Press is a not-for-profit international publishing collective that seeks to build bridges and highlight oppression, environmental issues and exploitation of people and resources globally. They endeavour to make books available on open access, while also having print copies for sale. The book was launched at Maynooth University Library by Dr Owens Wiwa (Saro-Wiwa’s brother) and in Nigeria by Firoze Manji, Director of Daraja. Royalties from sales are used to fund a postgraduate bursary in Saro-Wiwa’s name. Maynooth University Library is currently working with a US film company, who plan to make the letters the basis of a movie. This case study will discuss the challenges, successes and lessons learned from this initiative. It will be of interest to those exploring innovative collaborations. It will also be of interest to those who seek to make collections which embody global concerns, available freely to underpin informed discussion, action and research in order to create a more just world.