SILENCE WOULD BE TREASON
Broadcast date: 25th September 2021, 12:06 on the BBC World Service, The Documentary
The last writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa from prison in Nigeria to an Irish nun in the run up to his execution in November 1995. Smuggled out of prison in bread baskets, they are the final testament of a man who gave everything he had in the struggle for social and ecological justice.
As Ken Saro-Wiwa continues to inspire people and movements across decades and continents, these letters form part of our living history, and give us an immediate link with the man behind the hero.
For years, Shell Oil with the backing of the Nigerian government drilled for oil in the mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta. The pollution that followed destroyed farms and rivers, and contaminated the fishing and drinking water of the Ogoni people. Ken Saro-Wiwa spearheaded the resistance to this destruction, and became an icon for social justice movements everywhere.
Nigerian environmental activist, Nnimmo Bassey describes these last letters as: ‘invaluable fragments of a living conversation’. And there is this sense of immediacy – they are a direct account of the events which led to the execution of the Ogoni 9.
These letters and poems of Ken Saro-Wiwa show him uncomfortable at becoming a disembodied, iconic figure. He plays down the martyred saviour narrative in favour of a more fluid sense of self as ‘voice’. A globally resonant voice, which still has relevance today.
Voiced by Ben Arogundade and presented by Noo Saro-Wiwa.
SIGNING IN: ‘NEW IRISH’ WRITERS
LISTEN: Documentary on Newstalk – Signing In: New Irish Writers
Poets and editors from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, India and South Africa give us an in-depth look at diversity in Irish writing and publishing.
Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe, Christie Kandiwa, Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, Khanyo Dlamini and Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi read their poetry of love, migration, family – and share their own unique experiences of ‘home’. They reflect on the power of language to shape identity, and the connection between writing and social change.
They explain how we could be doing better in terms of diversity in the arts in Ireland – and what kind of organisations are currently helping to shift the conversation.
Skein Press co-editor, Grainne O’Toole, and poet Jessica Traynor also share their experience of collaboration: and why it’s vital to put more support in place for writers from under-represented communities.
CREDITS: Signing In: The ‘New Irish’ Writers, is produced by Bairbre Flood and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland under the Sound & Vision Scheme.
ALTERNATIVE LEARNING: THE CORK LIFE CENTRE
Producer Bairbre Flood talks to students and teachers and examines what the education system can learn from the success of this iconic Cork school.
Funded by the BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland).
BEYOND RELIGION : ATHEISM IN IRELAND
Members of Atheist Ireland (Dublin & Cork), parents who are bringing up their children outside religion; and an ex-Muslim, ex-Hindu, and ex-Catholic speak frankly about their experiences.
Broadcast on UCC98.3FM, December 2020, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) under the Sound & Vision Scheme.
AGAINST THE WIRE
‘There are so many people there with different skills, who have a high educational background, but they are stuck there. They want to help develop their society. No one wants to come here to live here in that kind of situation,’ – Abdul, from Ghana, coordinator of the One Happy Family School on Lesvos, Greece.
Broadcast August 2020 and produced with the support of The Simon Cumbers Media Fund.
We follow Irish nurse Elena Lydon who took a career break from her nursing job to volunteer with Medical Volunteers International, and who helps care for over 300 unaccompanied minors in Moria camp.
‘Against The Wire’ meets Mustapha, an interpreter with Medical Volunteers International; Jameela, a mother trying to bring up her children in the camp; Adrianna, a medic with Boat Refugee Foundation; Ahmad, a photographer with ReFocus Media Labs, and Baqir, a teenager seeking a new life of safety.
We also visit a medical clinic in Athens and talk to Catherine McMenamin (coordinator of MVI Athens) and Casandra Espinosa a former legal case worker with Khora (a Greek support organisation), to get an overview of the situation for refugees in Greece. Most of those stuck on the islands are hopeful that eventually they can move on to Athens and continue their journey.
HIDDEN HISTORY : IRELAND & THE SLAVE TRADE
Talking to historians, academics and writers, producer Bairbre Flood traces the history of Irish involvement in the Atlantic Slave Trade.
Broadcast March 2020, funded by the BAI under the Sound & Vision Scheme.
In Ireland we’re more familiar with thinking of ourselves as the victims of history – which we were – than as active participants in colonialism. But it’s an uncomfortable fact that the Irish were also slave owners, slave traders, overseers and agents. We helped build the slave empire on behalf of Britain, France and other countries, and shared in the profits of this horrendous system over the course of several hundred years.
Interviewees include Nini Rodgers, Orla Power, Joe O’Shea, Kate Hodgson, Ebun Joseph and Lee Jenkins.
‘Ireland & The Slave Trade’ also looks at the anti-slavery movement at the time – and especially the visit of Frederick Douglass; the myth of the ‘white Irish slaves’ still doing the rounds on social media; and the growth of racism as a way of legitimising the enslavement of millions of African men, women and children.
The only Irish person recognised as Righteous Among the Nations for saving Jewish children during the Holocaust.
Broadcast May 2020 – Listen: Mary Elmes : Documentary On Newstalk Funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) under the Sound & Vision Scheme.
A fascinating character for many reasons, her work during the Spanish Civil War and then in Rivesaltes Refugee Camp in the South of France are noteworthy even in themselves. But it’s for risking her life, rescuing Jewish refugees who were being sent to concentration camps that she’ll be most remembered.
Her story raises all kinds of questions about moral courage and humanitarianism – and contrasts sharply with the official policy of the Irish government during the Holocaust.
Producer Bairbre Flood talks to Ronald Friend and Charlotte Berger-Greneche (two of the people whose lives she saved), her biographers Clodagh Finn and Paddy Butler, her family, long-time Quaker researchers Bernard and Janet Wilson, Mervyn O’Driscoll (Head of History, UCC), and Heino Schonfeld of the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland.
It’s estimated that at least 80 children were directly saved by Mary Elmes. She never sought any attention for her actions, and her story has only recently become known.
‘She was not alone. There were a lot of people doing the same thing with her. She couldn’t do all that without other people,’ – Mary’s daughter, Caroline.
Caroline pointed out that her mother never desired recognition for her work, eschewing a saviour narrative, and acknowledging the many people who worked together to do what they could under dire circumstances.
And yet, there’s no doubt Mary Elmes was a remarkable woman – a humanitarian who ‘had a tremendous ability and persistence to do what was right,’ as her cousin, Mark Elmes puts it. ‘She stuck with it through thick and thin, and all she was concerned about were the victims.‘
LEARNING TO CHANGE IN ISRAELI & PALESTINIAN COMMUNITIES
From Tamra to Tel Aviv, Nazareth to Jerusalem, I spoke to members of Mahapach-Taghir (change in Hebrew-Arabic) and Sadaka-Reut (friendship in Arabic-Hebrew), and to women from all communities, to see how they’re working on the ground in marginalised areas.
Broadcast on Newstalk 106-8FM, June 2019, listen to podcast here
‘It’s in the community, it deals with women, students and children; and it deals with Jewish and Arab, so I cannot find a more holistic way to make a change here in my society.’ – Fida Nara, the Palestinian co-director of Mahapach-Taghir
In a region renowned for conflict, these women’s struggle for community and solidarity across sectarian lines is even more remarkable. More
Supported by the Simon Cumbers Media Fund.
LIFE ON THE OUTSIDE
Three women describe their experience of Direct Provision, seeking asylum in Ireland, the threat of deportation, what it means to be Irish, and how they deal with racism.
Funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) under the Sound & Vision Scheme. More
THE HUNGRY ROAD
‘I am just like you I wanna be free’ by Kate O’Shea
Home to 10,000 refugees before its eviction in 2016 – what was life like for people living in the unofficial refugee camp in Calais, France, aka ‘The Jungle’? More
Produced with the support of The Mary Raftery Journalism Fund.