“Africa kills her Sun” – Ken Saro Wiwa By James Ogunjimi

After re-reading the story of Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso who was assasinated on October 15, 1987, a piece I did on Nigeria’s Late General Murtala Muhammed in February 2012 comes to mind and I just can’t stop wondering why no reason has been provided for a negative trend that now threatens to consume Africa and African values.

Here are some quick facts you need to know about General Murtala Muhammed:

* General Murtala Muhammed ruled for just 6 months before he was assasinated on February 13, 1976.

* He delivered this speech at the OAU Summit and it practically sealed his death:

“Africa has come of age. It is no longer under the orbit of any extra continental power. It should no longer take orders from any country, however powerful. The fortunes of Africa are in our hands to make or to mar. For too long have we been kicked around: for too long have we been treated like adolescents who cannot discern their interests and act accordingly. For too long has it been presumed that the African needs outside ‘experts’ to tell him who are his friends and who are his enemies. The time has come when we should make it clear that we can decide for ourselves; that we know our own interests and how to protect those interests; that we are capable of resolving African problems without presumptuous lessons in ideological dangers which, more often than not, have no relevance for us, nor for the problem at hand.”

After that speech, he was a walking corpse.

Murtala was a man who didn’t believe in formalties. He adopted a low profile policy. So, for the 200 days he was Head of State, he lived in the same house he had occupied as Director of Army Signal Corps, and drove to work at the Dodan Barracks every morning from his house. No convoy. No sirens. No outriders. Few days after his assumption of office, Murtala shunned the sirens and convoy and rode alone with his driver, from Lagos to Kano, a journey of more than one thousand kilometres, in his personal car. It was reported that after his assasination, he had only Seven Naira Twenty Two Kobo (N7.22) in his bank account.

Murtala never detained a single person in the 6 months that he led the Nigerian nation. When former Lagos University Law Lecturer Dr. Obarogie Ohonbamu wrote in his magazine, African Spark, that Murtala had corruptly enriched himself before becoming Head of State, and accused him of owning fleets of trailers and rows of houses, Murtala did not descend on him with his heavy boot as most military dictators, he quietly went to Igbosere magistrate court and sued Ohonbamu for libel. At the last hearing, the case was adjourned till 17th March, 1976, but Murtala was assassinated on 13th February.

My question is, why all the systemic killing of leaders that could have brought Africa out of the paws of ‘know-all’ nations who are determined to keep Africa enslaved?

As this generation stands, with no leadership strong enough to challenge the nations that have made themselves Africa’s adopted big brothers, Kenn Saro Wiwa’s words ring true once again; Africa kills its Sun. The question is, if Africa continues to aid the killing of its Sun, how long before a perpetual darkness descends on her?

James Ogunjimi
Email:; Twitter: @hullerj

About the author


Lanre Olagunju is an hydrologist turned freelance journalist. He has a degree in hydrology from the University of Agriculture Abeokuta and a professional diploma in journalism from the American College of Journalism. Lanre advocates on several international platforms for the prosperity and absolute well-being of the African continent. He's @Lanre_Olagunju on Twitter

  • Bashirat

    Wow! Good piece.