Thursday, June 9, 2016

Maynooth University Ken Saro-Wiwa Archive

On International Archives Day, I want to highlight one particular Maynooth University Archive, which I have had the opportunity to work with.
In November 2011, Sister Majella McCarron (OLA) donated the death-row correspondence of Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa to Maynooth University.  Details of the handover and background information on Ken Saro-Wiwa can be found  here
The level of international media coverage of the handover of the letters and Sister Majella’s desire that that Saro-Wiwa’s ideals around non-violent protest would be available to social movements and particularly those concerned with environmental justice internationally, encouraged us to publish the letters as “Silence Would be Treason: Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa.” (Corley, Fallon, Cox). The book contains the 28 letters and 27 poems by Saro-Wiwa and a poem written by Sister Majella. Three essays, by the editors, place the collection in the context of African literature, social movements and archival and special collections. The volume also includes photographs from the archive. The book was launched at Maynooth University by Dr Owens Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s brother.  The Ken Saro-Wiwa Audio Archive was also launched at the same event. The archive, created in SoundCloud, contains recordings of people connected to Ken Saro-Wiwa including Sister Majella McCarron, Dr Owens Wiwa and Noo Saro-Wiwa. It’s freely available 24/7 from here
While archives are frequently used in the postgraduate curriculum, archival literacy isn’t happening to a significant degree in the undergraduate curriculum.  A project to integrate the Ken Saro-Wiwa Archive on an undergraduate course is described here
More about Maynooth University Library and the Ken Saro-Wiwa in the latest issue of CILIP Update. Click here to read.

I think archives and special collections don’t get the exposure they warrant, giving the unique nature of many collections.  Perhaps we need to be more creative in how we utilise and promote these collections.

You can view the KSW letters online here

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