Saro London

Saro London


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Picture of the Saro London

A picture of the Saro London flying boat.


Saro London - History

1949 75th anniv of the UPU, 2 of 4, SG 136, 137, Scott 123-126 ✱

1953 Views of Gibraltar, 1 of 14, SG 152, Scott 139 ✱ ✱

1960 Definitives set, 1 of 14, SG 167, Scott 154 ✱

1978 60th Anniv of Royal Air Force, 5 of 5, SG 407-411, Scott 369-373 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

3p - Short Sunderland, 9p - Caudron G.3, 12p - Avro Shackleton, 16p - Hawker Hunter, 18p - Hawker Siddeley Nimrod

1981 50th Anniv of Gibraltar Airmail Service, 1 of 3, SG 454-456 ✱

1982 Aircraft, 15 of 15, SG 460-474, Scott 416-430 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

1p - Douglas DC-3, 2p - Vickers VC1 Viking, 3p - Airspeed Ambassador, 4p - Vickers Viscount, 5p - Boeing 727, 10p - Vickers Vanguard, 14p - Short Solent, 15p - Fokker F27 Friendship, 17p - Boeing 737, 20p - BAC One-Eleven, 25pf - Lockheed Constellation, 50p - de Havilland Comet, £1 - Saro Windhover, £2 - Hawker Siddeley Trident, £5 - de Havilland DH-89 Dragon Rapide

1982 Europa, 1 of 2, SG 479-480 ✱

1988 Europa Transport & Communication, 1 of 4, SG 589, Scott 525 ✱ ✱

1993 Anniversaries (75th anniv of RAF), 1 of 4, SG 710, Scott 646 ✱ ✱

24p - Panavia Tornado and Handley Page Type O

1995 50th anniv of VE Day, 1 of 1, SG MS744, Scott 683 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

1998 80th anniv of the RAF, 4 of 4, SG 829-832, Scott 755-758 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

24p - Saro London, 26p - Fairey Fox, 38p - Handley Page Halifax, 50p - Blackburn Buccaneer

1998 80th anniv of the RAF ms, 4 of 4, SG MS833, Scott 759 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

24p - Sopwith 1½ Strutter, 26p - Bristol M.1, 38p - Supermarine Spitfire, 50p - Avro York

1999 Wings of prey (1st series). Birds of prey & RAF fighter aircraft, 3 of 6, SG 883-888, Scott 809-814 ✱ ✱ ✱

30p - Eurofighter Typhoon, 30p - Panavia Tornado, 30p - BAe Harrier II

1999 Wings of prey (1st series), 3 of 3, SG MS889, Scott 811a ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

2000 History of Gibraltar ms, 1 of 16, Scott 841p ✱ ✱

2000 Wings of prey (2nd series). Birds of prey & RAF WW2 aircraft, 3 of 6, SG 943-948, Scott 851-853 ✱ ✱ ✱

30p - Supermarine Spitfire, 30p - Hawker Hurricane, 30p - Avro Lancaster

2000 Wings of prey (2nd series), 3 of 3, SG MS949, Scott 853a ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

2001 Wings of prey (3rd series). Birds of prey & modern military aircraft, 3 of 6, SG 982-987, Scott 887-889 ✱ ✱ ✱

40p - BAe Sea Harrier, 40p - BAe Hawk, 40p - SEPECAT Jaguar

2001 Wings of prey (3rd series), 3 of 3, SG MS988, Scott 889c ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

2003 Centenary of powered flight, 5 of 6, SG 1045-1050 ✱ ✱ ✱

30p - Wright Flyer, 40p - Spirit of St Louis, 40p - Boeing 314 Clipper, 42p - Saro Windhover, 44p - Concorde

2003 Centenary of powered flight ms, 5 of 6, SG MS1051, Scott 937a ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

30p - Wright Flyer, 40p - Spirit of St Louis, 40p - Boeing 314 Clipper, 42p - Saro Windhover, 44p - Concorde

2004 60th Anniv of D-Day Landings, 1 of 4, SG 1090 ✱ ✱

47p - Handley Page Halifax

2006 75th anniv of Gibraltar Airmail Service, 4 of 4, SG 1176-1179, Scott 1048-1051 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

8p - Saro Windhover, 40p - Vickers Vanguard, 49p - Vickers Viscount, £1.60 - Boeing 737

2008 90th anniv of the RAF, 6 of 6, SG 1261-1266 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

40p - Short Type 184 & Saro London, 40p - Supermarine Spitfire & Hawker Hurricane, 42p - Bristol Beaufighter & Avro Lancaster, 42p - Hawker Hunter & Avro Shackleton, 49p - Avro Vulcan & de Havilland Mosquito, 49p - Panavia Tornado & SEPECAT Jaguar

2008 90th anniv of the RAF ms, 1 of 1, SG MS1267 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

2009 100 years of Naval Aviation, 5 of 6, Scott 1183-1188 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

42p - Short S.27, 42p - Avro 504, 42p - Short Type 184, 42p - Morane-Saulnier L, 42p - Caudron G.3

2009 100 years of Naval Aviation s/s, 1 of 1, Scott 1189 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

2010 Aviation Centenaries, 2 of 4, SG 1365-1368 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

10p - Voisin-Farman I, 49p - Antoinette VII

2010 Aviation Centenaries ms, 4 of 4, SG MS1369 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

10p - Fabre Hydravion, 42p - Supermarine S.6B, 49p - Short Sunderland, £2 - Saunders-Roe Princess

2010 Battle of Britain, 6 of 6, Scott 1222-1227 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

50p - Boulton Paul Defiant, 50p - Bristol Blenheim, 50p - Gloster Gladiator, 50p - Hawker Hurricane, 50p - Miles Master, 50p - Supermarine Spitfire

2011 90 years of British Legion, 3 of 8, SG 1381-1388 ✱

50p - Avro Vulcan, 50p - Panavia Tornado

2011 75th anniv of the Spitfire, 4 of 4, SG 1421-1424 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

All are Supermarine Spitfires

2011 75th anniv of the Spitfire ms, 1 of 1, SG MS1425 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

2012 RAF Squadrons I, 4 of 4, SG 1452-1455 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

10p - Westland Sea King, 42p - Gloster Javelin, 76p - Panavia Tornado, £2 - Bristol Beaufighter

2013 RAF Squadrons II, 4 of 4 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

10p - Supermarine Spitfire, 42p - Hawker Hurricane, 76p - Consolidated PBY Catalina, £2 - Avro Shackleton

2014 50th anniv of the Red Arrows, 5 of 5 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

2014 RAF Squadrons III, 4 of 4 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

54p - BAe Hawk, 64p - Saro London, 70p - Blackburn Buccaneer, £2 - Lockheed Hudson

2015 Centenary of WW1 - part II, 1 of 6 ✱ ✱

2015 RAF Squadrons IV, 4 of 4 ✱ ✱ ✱ ✓

54p - Handley Page Halifax, 64p - Vickers Wellington, 70p - Bristol Blenheim, £2 - de Havilland DH-100 Vampire

2018 100th anniv of the RAF, 6 of 6 ✱ ✱ ✱

22p - Supermarine Spitfire, 64p - Hawker Hurricane, 70p - Consolidated PBY Catalina, 80p - Short Sunderland, £2 - Vickers Wellington, £3 - Lockheed Hudson

2018 100th anniv of the RAF ms, 4 of 4 ✱ ✱ ✱

64p - Eurofighter Typhoon, 70p - Blackburn Buccaneer, 80p - Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, £3 - Boeing C-17 Globemaster III


In London, Saro celebrates Nigeria’s creative history

The last time London enjoyed a festival of Nigerian theatre, perhaps, was in 2012 when several Nigerian plays mounted the stage as part of the Cultural Olympiad. While many people who saw the plays went home impressed, Nigeria’s entertainment scene — music, film and theatre — has garnered more popularity and acclaim. When the Bolanle Austen-Peters Production thus decided to take the ambitiously conceived and impressively executed Saro, The Musical to the arts-friendly European city, it was bound to be received by a great audience.

With sponsorship by the MTN Nigeria Foundation, BAP stormed the Shaw Theatre with a large cast of accomplished and emerging talents. The combination of the wit of the seasoned and energy of the young, indeed, gave the performance a memorable touch.

Of course, they are well united by a robust and winding story. For in Saro, The Musical, almost every scene seems to present big, medium and small problems. It is a story that trails the lives of four young musicians from a remote and fictional Nigerian village (Kutuenji), who journey to Lagos with the hope of making it big in the music industry.

They arrive in Lagos full of hope and great expectations, but the city is too fast for them, hence their first night is marked by a series of unfortunate events — from extortion by area boys to losing their belongings and finally ending up in a police-holding cell where they have a taste of what prison life could be like.

Their first main performance in Lagos, thus, takes place in the cell. Their offence is ‘wandering and looking’. As luck would have it, a Lagos-based music mogul, Don Ceeto, who, upon discovering them, is pushed towards pursuing a dream he had been nursing for a long time, bails them. With the aid of his producer/manager friend, Derry Black, Don Ceeto begins the journey of transforming the young men from local acts to urban musical sensations.

For the predominant British viewers at the Shaw Theatre in London, Saro, The Musical may go down in history as the most famous problematic play ever produced by a Nigerian threatre company. The reasons for this is that the themes of love, money and slavery which the performance interrogates often enjoy a meeting point that seamlessly stimulates suspense, intrigue and humour.

The prologue shows Laitan (played by Patrick Diabuah) seeking to conquer the love of his life by turning around his fortunes. Yet, he is terrified and fears that leaving for Lagos, where the fortune is apparently lurking around, may provide an opportunity for another man to scoop from his soup.

For the major character, Azeez (played by Gideon Okeke), who is the leader of the four-man musical group that Laitan belongs to, they must embark on the life-changing odyssey to Lagos. Arrived with nothing, except hope and big dreams, they are duly reoriented by the experiences and people they encounter on their journey to self-realisation.

In between the plots, their hopes for an opportunity to ‘blow’ in the music arena are tied to Don Ceeto (played by Bimbo Manuel), having realised that with some polishing, the group may just become his next source of livelihood. In the process, the play dramatises an asserted collection of Nigerian music.

For the many white British threatre lovers at the Shaw Theatre, the scene where Don Ceeto takes the boys to the ancient Badagry Slave Trade Museum is a subtle way of interpreting the godfatherism syndrome in the Nigerian society, where loyalty and outright submission are the order of the day. That scene also seems to be a test of their loyalty. The Britons kick and yell, “No, this cannot be!” But they are forced into silence when Don Ceeto goes down memory lane to tell the foursome the good old stories of Badagry slave trade, painting a picture of man’s inhumanity to man. And on stage appears a British colonial master — whipping six chained, starving, helpless young men to work. What a dramatic irony!

Read Also

The Britons in the theatre crave more scenes of the Badagry slave story, but the plots in Saro, The Musical fail to fulfil their wishes. To them, the moral implication of the play is consistent.

Weaving together the trials, misfortunes, loves, and destinies of the foursome into a 14-act masterpiece, Saro tells the inspiring story of the journey to success in a harsh, unwelcoming city as we see Lagos personified by numerous colourful and unforgettable characters, a frenetic pace of living and endless drama.

The Executive Secretary, MTN Nigeria Foundation, Nonny Ugboma, expressed delight at the regeneration that the stage is witnessing in Nigeria.

In the recent past, there had been concern over the regression that ‘live theatre’ suffered, against the vibrant culture the country witnessed during the Hubert Ogunde era.

According to Ugboma, the revival being witnessed now is good news for playwrights, actors, drama lovers and other stakeholders.

At the show that attracted a large audience, Ugboma said, “Nigeria is witnessing a revival of sorts in the quality and popularity of theatre and we are honoured to be part of this renaissance. We successfully partnered BAP productions on the premieres of two musicals — Waka and Kakaadu, which came up in Lagos, London and Johannesburg. We look forward to a successful run with Saro showing at Shaw Theatre, West End, London.”

Bolanle Austen-Peters, who directed the musical, expressed confidence that audiences in the UK, Nigeria and across the world would continue to enjoy a fantastic time.

She said, “Our experience clearly shows that Nigerian stories resonate. People want to see and hear tales about our beautiful culture. For a long time, our stories were told by others. Now, with productions like Saro, The Musical, executed by a 70-member cast and crew, we are taking ownership and telling our own stories in a way that only we can.”

Copyright PUNCH.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.


3. H.H. Holmes

Born Herman W. Mudgett, the notorious serial killer H.H. Holmes spent his early career as an insurance scammer before moving to Illinois in advance of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It was there that Holmes built what he referred to as his �stle”𠅊 three-story inn that he secretly turned into a macabre torture chamber. Some rooms were equipped with hidden peepholes, gas lines, trap doors and soundproofed padding, while others featured secret passages, ladders and hallways that led to dead ends. There was also a greased chute that led to the basement, where Holmes had installed a surgical table, a furnace and even a medieval rack.

Both before and during the World’s Fair, Holmes led many victims—mostly young women—to his lair only to asphyxiate them with poisoned gas and take them to his basement for horrific experiments. He then either disposed of the bodies in his furnace or skinned them and sold the skeletons to medical schools. Holmes was eventually convicted of the murders of four people, but he confessed to at least 27 more killings before being hanged in 1896. “Holmes’ Horror Castle” was later turned into a grotesque museum, but the building burned down before it could be opened.


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“The curator who founded MoMA’s video program recounts the artists and events that defined the medium’s first 50 years.”

Didem Pekün, Araf . 2018. Video.
Courtesy the artist

“Since the introduction of portable consumer electronics nearly a half century ago, artists throughout the world have adapted their latest technologies to art-making. In this book, curator Barbara London traces the history of video art as it transformed into the broader field of media art – from analog to digital, small TV monitors to wall-scale projections, and clunky hardware to user-friendly software. In doing so, she reveals how video evolved from fringe status to be seen as one of the foremost art forms of today.”


Video/Art, The First Fifty Years
(Phaidon Press) traces the history of video art as it transformed into the broader field of media art.

‣ Sample pages (PDF)

Book Tour →

Cory Arcangel, Totally Fucked . 2003. Video. Courtesy the artist [/caption] [caption align="alignnone"] Lisa Reihana, Pursuit of Venus [infected] . 2017. Two channel color, high definition video transferred to media player, stereo sound, Courtesy the artist [/caption]


Saro London

Saunders Roe A.27 London là một loại tàu bay quân sự của Anh, do hãng Saunders Roe chế tạo. Chỉ có 31 chiếc được chế tạo, trang bị cho Không quân Hoàng gia vào năm 1936.

Saro London
Một chiếc Saro London II thuộc Phi đội 204 RAF
Kiểu Tàu bay trinh sát
Nhà chế tạo Saunders-Roe
Chuyến bay đầu Tháng 3, 1934
Giới thiệu 1936
Thải loại 1941
Sử dụng chính Không quân Hoàng gia
Không quân Hoàng gia Canada
Giai đoạn sản xuất 1934 - 1938
Số lượng sản xuất 31
Phát triển từ Saro A.7 Severn


There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe - review

N o writer is better placed than Chinua Achebe to tell the story of the Nigerian Biafran war from a cultural and political perspective. Yet, apart from an interview with Transition magazine in 1968 and a book of Biafran poems, Nigeria's most eminent novelist has kept a literary silence about the civil war in which he played a prominent role – until now. In his engrossing new memoir, There Was A Country, Achebe, now 81, finally speaks about his life during the conflict that nearly tore Nigeria apart in the late 60s.

In many ways, the early part of Achebe's life mirrors the story of early Nigeria. Nicknamed "Dictionary", Achebe was a gifted Igbo student and enthusiastic reader, a member of the "Lucky Generation" of young students who rubbed shoulders at top institutions under the tutelage of Oxbridge colonials. They were effortlessly absorbed into the media, industry and civil service, serving a Nigeria driven by optimism on its way to freedom from British rule.

By independence in 1960, Igbo people dominated commerce and the public sector in a land where the three biggest ethnic groups (the Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo) were jostling for supremacy. Achebe attributes Igbo domination to their self-confidence, inherent democratic values and adaptability, which were suited to Nigeria's modernising economy. But many Nigerians resented it, and Achebe admits that the Igbo could be cocky, brash and materialistic, though he rejects the popular suspicion that there was a pan-Igbo agenda to control Nigeria – his people have too strong an "individualistic ethic".

Six years after independence, corruption and electoral rigging preceded a military coup that overthrew Nigeria's first prime minister, the Muslim northerner, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Although most of the coup-plotters were Igbo, Achebe disputes that it was an "Igbo" coup, partly on the basis that its leader, Major Nzeogwu, had grown up in the north and was Igbo in name only. Nevertheless, the murder of Nigeria's northern leaders led to pogroms in which 30,000 Igbos living in the north were killed. The bloodshed culminated in General Emeka Ojukwu's declaration in 1967 that the Igbos' south-eastern region would secede from a country in which his people "felt unwanted".

Fearing the disintegration of Nigeria, the government blocked the secession with military force, backed by a UK government keen to protect its oil interests. Profoundly disappointed by this turn of events, Achebe left his job at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in Lagos and returned with his family to the south-east, now calling itself the Republic of Biafra. The Nigerian army launched a three-pronged attack to subdue the Biafrans, who fought back assiduously despite being out-resourced. Achebe describes a wartime spirit that inspired Biafran engineers to build army tanks out of reinforced Range Rovers and to invent the infamous ogbunigwe (bucket bomb) with devastating effect. Though he abhors violence, Achebe cites these as evidence of the quality of the Nigerian people, and he laments the corruption that strangled such ingenuity.

In the middle chapters, memoir gives way to largely neutral historical analysis, with Achebe citing a range of voices, media reports and books. There are interesting insights into the war's two central players: Biafra's leader Ojukwu and Nigerian president, General Yakubu Gowon, both Sandhurst-trained young men. Rivalries between them and within their teams "confounded political science models". Possessing little administrative experience, the two men pursued ego-driven policies, and missed opportunities to end the conflict sooner. Achebe cites Biafran diplomat Raph Uwechue, who accused Ojukwu of choosing ideology over pragmatism when he rejected relief supplies from the British.

In the following chapters, Achebe's personal story re-emerges. Despite the war, he lived a remarkably productive life. Driven by his belief in the political obligations of the writer, he became Biafra's international envoy, promoting the cause in Canada, Europe and Senegal. He set up a publishing company with his close friend Chris Okigbo, and became Biafra's communications minister, writing a manifesto for the republic. He describes being part of an intellectual elite that came together to recreate a Biafran microcosm of Nigeria's early spirit, their ideals drawn from a mix of traditional Igbo philosophy, US-style liberalism and socialism.

As the federal army closed in, Achebe and his family moved from town to town before settling in his father's village. The atrocities proved inescapable: at a market, Achebe's wife Christie saw a bomb split a pregnant woman in two. Achebe relays such horrors – including the deaths of his mother and friend Okigbo – with stoic brevity his strongest expressions of sorrow are his poems, such as the famous "Refugee Mother and Child". Reproduced from his 1971 Biafran poetry book Beware, Soul Brother, these verses are scattered between chapters, offering affecting interludes.

As the conflict dragged on, Biafra buckled under a blockade so brutal it provoked an international outcry: mass starvation, kwashiorkor and mental illness devastated the Igbo landscape, where vultures, those "avian prognosticators of death", circled overhead. Biafra was the world's first properly televised conflict, and millions across the world were appalled by the horrors flickering on their screens. Such people as Joan Baez, John Lennon, Martin Luther King and Karl Vonnegut galvanised international responses to the tragedy, in an age before "Africa fatigue" had set in.

By the time hostilities ended in 1970, three million Biafrans had died, in contrast to 100,000 casualties on the federal side. Igbos weren't mere casualties of war, Achebe insists, but victims of calculated genocide. Ojukwu, meanwhile, escaped to live in exile in Côte d'Ivoire, inviting accusations of cowardice. Achebe rationalises this move on the basis that if the Biafran leader had stayed in Nigeria, Gowon would have been less magnanimous and conciliatory towards Igbos after the war.

Igbos were reintegrated into Nigerian society, but still faced economic discrimination. Achebe offers an excerpt of an interview in which Gowon tries to justify the crippling £20 flat fee given to every Biafran wanting to convert their Biafran currency back to the Nigerian naira. This sense of persecution still persists today: Achebe believes that Igbo people are the engine of Nigeria's advancement, stifled by a corrupt elite that prefers power and mediocrity to meritocracy. Igbo ostracisation, he says, is "one of the main reasons for the country's continued backwardness". Some might call this supremacism, but Achebe is ultimately a Nigerian patriot who sympathises with ordinary Igbos, rather than any broad Igbo power structure.

The final chapter is an exhortation to better governance, in which he examines corruption, ethnic bigotry, state failure and the steps Nigeria must take to rehabilitate itself. This prescriptive wish list reminds us of the gap between theory and practice in Nigerian politics it makes you pine for the likes of Achebe to govern. But sadly, he's not writing a manifesto instead, we have in There Was A Country an elegy from a master storyteller who has witnessed the undulating fortunes of a nation, which – unlike young "Dictionary" – has yet to fulfil its potential.

Noo Saro-Wiwa's Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria is published by Granta.


In the name of my father

'Your dad's dead.' For most of my adult life I'd lived in dread of hearing those words. Even before he became a global icon of social justice I was keenly aware that my father's death, whenever it came, would have a profound impact on my life. Years before they killed him I would imagine what it would be like to receive the news. I would rehearse scenarios in my head how would I feel, how would I react? I never imagined, not even in my wildest calculations, that my father's death would have such an impact well beyond my personal universe.

On the day they killed him I remember walking up a hilly street in Auckland. I was 25 years old and had flown to New Zealand to try to lobby the Commonwealth Heads of State to intervene on behalf of my father, who had been sentenced to death at the end of October. At the top of the street I turned to view the sunset. Looking out over the city centre below me and out into the harbour in the distance, I watched the sun sink into the sea, casting a pale orange glow against the sky. I remember the exact moment he died. I was sitting in a restaurant chatting and laughing with friends when I felt a brief palpitation in my chest - it felt like a vital connection had been ruptured inside me and I just knew. It was midnight in Auckland and midday in Nigeria and my father had just been hanged his broken body lay in a shallow sand pit in a hut at the condemned prisoners block at Port Harcourt Prison.

His death on 10 November 1995 shook the world. John Major described the trial that sent him to the gallows as a 'fraudulent trial, a bad verdict, an unjust sentence'. Nelson Mandela thundered that 'this heinous act by the Nigerian authorities flies in the face of appeals by the world community for a stay of execution'. Bill Clinton and the Queen added their voices to the worldwide condemnation, Nigeria was suspended from the Commonwealth, countries recalled their diplomats and there were calls for economic sanctions and a boycott of Shell oil.

Sitting here in my father's old office in the busy commercial quarter of the old town of Port Harcourt on the sourthern coast of Nigeria is a poignant place for me as I look back on his death. I've been travelling in and out of Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999 dividing my time between my family in Canada and my father's business interests here, and earlier this year I took a decision to relocate my centre of gravity, moving my family back to England while I concentrated on running the business here.

People are always quick to remind me that I have replicated my father's arrangements. I usually smile sheepishly and protest that there are some subtle differences. Like his office, which I was happy to dust down and renovate to suit my own tastes only to be told by his friends and supporters that they preferred the place as it was with my father's old furniture and tastes that were fashionable in about 1982! I eventually gave in to their need to remember my father but the episode was a reminder that while I might feel I have moved on, my father's legacy remains the foundation stone on which we must build the future.

Outside here the streets vibrate to the rhythms of a town that mocks its nickname as the garden city. Where this part of Port Harcourt was once the genteel colonial quarters with elegant mansions and their spacious verandahs, postmodern Africa is busy decolonising the city with a familiar pattern of snarling traffic jams, uncollected refuse and brash expressions of architectural confusion the whole noise and colour of a city floating on a wave of oil money that creates islands of startling wealth in a sea of dehumanising poverty.

I remember how I would often find my father staring out of these windows. 'Look out there,' he would say gesturing with his chin. 'Out there are all the stories a writer needs.' He would stare in silence with a frown on his face as if he was contemplating some regret. Looking back, I think of him sitting there trying to come to terms with what must have seemed like the impossible burden of bringing those untold stories to the attention of the world.

Writing was my father's great love - I'm never sure how many books he actually produced but he once claimed 25 including poetry anthologies, plays, memoirs, collections of essays, short stories and at least two novels. No doubt he would have loved to have been remembered as a man of letters and he had already arrogated to himself the literary ambition of forging the uncreated conscience of his people in his soul. In the end he never quite managed to publish that book but then the greatest story he ever told was to die for his people and it took his death to realise his ambition of placing his people on the world map.

If you head north east out of Port Harcourt and into the flat, gently sloping floodplains of the Niger River Delta you will likely arrive in my community. To foreign eyes Ogoni must look like any other rural community in sub-Saharan Africa. Off the main road that runs east-west right across the 404 square miles of Ogoni territory, the tarred roads eventually give way to dirt tracks of mud red earth that take you into the villages. You could travel around the 120 or so Ogoni villages and you might not see much evidence of the oil industry that has been at the core of this story but somewhere among the dense mangroves, the palm trees and the giant irokos are the flowstations and pipelines that have pumped 900 million barrels of oil out of the area since the natural resource was discovered there in 1958.

All told, there were once over a hundred oil wells, a petrochemical complex, two oil refineries and a fertiliser plant in the region. An area which, as my father once wrote, should have been as rich as a small Gulf state, stood as an example of how Africa's rich natural resources have impoverished its people and the land they live off.

Associated natural gas has been flared into the atmosphere for over 40 years in Nigeria - pumping noxious fumes into the atmosphere. Nigeria alone accounts for 28 per cent of total gas flared in the world and the flared gas volume in Nigeria translates into the crude oil equivalent of 259,000 barrels per day.

Apart from the gas flares there are the oil spills, the matrix of pipelines that criss-cross Ogoni, sometimes over farmlands and often in close proximity to human habitation. The pipelines had been laid without impact assessment studies, without community consultation and were often laid over appropriated farmland with little or minimal compensation. Few locals dared to question the oil industry because to do so was seen to challenge the national security of the country since the governments of Nigeria are dependent on oil revenues for foreign exchange. It takes a brave man to block the flow of oil.

Few dared to question the cosy relationship between the oil companies and Nigeria's ruling elites until my father spoke out. Born on 10 October 1941, he grew up in a traditional home in Ogoni. He saw the coming of the oil industry and as a 17-year-old began writing letters to newspapers questioning the benefits when oil was first discovered in Ogoni. For the next 30 years his commentaries on the oil nexus escalated until he became best known in Nigeria for his trenchant criticisms of the industry.

By exposing the double standards of oil companies who preached sound ecological virtues in the north while singing from an entirely different song sheet in Nigeria, my father earned powerful enemies and became a marked man. Censored by editorial boards and denied a pulpit in a country where poverty made books a luxury, my father decided to abandon his writing and took his words to the streets. In 1990 he was instrumental in forming Mosop (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People), a grassroots organisation to mobilise our community to speak out for their rights. So successful was Mosop in raising awareness among the community that, within three years of forming the organisation, an estimated 300,000 of our people spilled out onto the streets of Ogoni during a protest march.

My father later insisted that if he had died that day he would have died a happy man. Instead, from that day, he was a marked man. He was arrested or detained on four separate occasions until his final arrest on 21 May 1994 following a riot in Ogoni at which four prominent chiefs were murdered. My father and hundreds of Ogoni were held for nine months without charge and when he was finally charged to court he was accused of procuring his supporters to murder the four chiefs.

When my father was finally brought before a civil disturbances tribunal the case had dubious merit even within the provisions of the Nigerian law under which he was prosecuted. International and independent observers of the trial criticised the proceedings as unfair and premeditated to deliver a miscarriage of justice and the trial became an international cause celebre. The sentencing and execution of my father and eight Ogoni was the day my destiny was locked into a path that I had spent my entire adult life trying to resist.

Long before Ken Saro-Wiwa became a symbol of resistance for the Ogoni, Nigerians and social justice activists around the world, he was my father. As a child I had idolised Jeje, as I called him, but when he chose to send me to private schools in England, the cultural dislocation opened up a distance between us. Although my father always wanted the best education for his seven children, he had expected that we would return home to apply our expensively trained minds to the problems at home. It was a trajectory that many Nigerians had followed, returning home to good jobs and a society that could offer a good life and a basic standard of living to exiles returning home loaded with degrees and doctorates. By the time I had sleepwalked through Tonbridge school and the University of London I had no real idea who I was, what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to apply that expensive education. My father was apoplectic and exasperated that his eldest son and namesake showed little or no ambition of following in his footsteps.

Whatever my misgivings about this country because of my father's murder, I knew deep down that I had no choice but to return my father's multiple legacies, literary, business, personal and political are centred here. His life and death have anchored me to Nigeria and over the past five years of coming and going I have developed the same love-hate relationship with this country that my father had.

Life goes on but the pain never goes, especially as he remains a convicted murderer in Nigeria's statue books, despite UN resolutions to revisit the trial and the intense lobbying of the Nigerian government. The current administration is slowly coming to terms with Ken Saro-Wiwa. President Olusegun Obasanjo and the governor of my state Dr Peter Odili have been true to their word in allowing my family to retrieve my father's bones for a proper burial.

The process of rehabilitating, compensating and reconciling my family to Nigeria is proceeding but it has been too slow and too long in coming. My family remains committed and open to reconciliation and cordial relations between my family and members of the families of the four Ogoni chiefs murdered in May 1994 have been restored and our wounds are starting to heal from inside.

To my mind the 10th anniversary of his death is a symbolic occasion to begin the process in earnest but while I am happy to forgive I don't want to forget - I am mindful that there are still many who are afraid of my father in this country. There is an oil company which, though it has publicly admitted making 'mistakes' in Nigeria, refuses to account or atone for its role in the execution of my father.

That is why, in 1996, we filed a suit against Shell in the US under the Alien Torts Claims Act - which human rights lawyers have used to help non-US citizens file complaints against US companies in the US for torts in foreign jurisdictions. Bringing the case helped to fulfil my father's prophecy that Shell must one day have its day in court. But it is not and has never been about vengeance. On the day my father was executed I was interviewed by David Frost and when he asked me about Shell I very deliberately answered that Shell were part of the problem and must be part of the solution. I knew what I was saying and I knew the risks I was taking then. I still believe in those words but Shell remains part of the problem in the Niger Delta but my feeling is that the company mistakenly believes it can ride out the crisis and return to Ogoni one day. [Shell denies playing any part in the arrest, trail and execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogonis. Shell says it opposed the executions and also denies causing environmental damage in the region.] There have been many stillborn attempts to arrive at a resolution of many of the problems in Ogoni and in the Niger Delta as a whole. My family remains open to any process that is transparent, that insists as a gesture of good faith that my father's dignity is restored and the stain on his reputation as a murderer is erased from the statue books.

Returning home has been a bitter sweet experience because while it has, undoubtedly been good for the soul, I remain guarded about it if only because the official stance on my father is still muted and divided and I am keenly aware that while Ken Saro-Wiwa has been widely honoured abroad he has not been afforded the same status by his own country.

Plans to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his execution around the world are reminders of what a tremendous legacy I have inherited and the good name that my father left his children. His story has touched ordinary people, is immortalised in songs, and in art. My father would have been so gratified that his death inspired John Le Carre's The Constant Gardener and that poets from around the world have contributed to an anthology in his name. Thirty PEN centres will mark the anniversary with a performance or readings of his last play, On the Death of Ken Saro-Wiwa, written a few days before his execution. In the US a resolution is being deliberated in the Senate, private parties are being held around the US, in Canada there will be a celebration of music and readings by writers and musicians. In London the winner of the Living Memorial, an art competition launched to remember Ken Saro-Wiwa on the streets of London will be announced. My father will be the second African, after Nelson Mandela to be given that honour.

Part of the inspiration for the Living Memorial came from Milan Kundera's observation that 'the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting'. It has become the motto for all the Ken Saro-Wiwa commemoration events but another way of looking at Kundera's observation is the old maxim that the shortest way to the future is via the past.

I often wonder what my own children will make of their grandfather and the name and history they carry. How will they interpret his story, my own for their own future? Up until now I have tried to avoid speaking to them about my father for fear of traumatising them. There are hardly any mementos or memorials to my father's struggle in my house but this year my children will, for the first time take part in some of those celebrations. My two boys, aged eight and five, are if nothing else, cut from the same cloth as their grandfather because they have inherited their grandfather's strong sense of right and wrong. I guess most children their age have a strong moral centre but I am conscious that are already aware of their history. Inevitably they didn't need me to fill in the gaps in the family tree.

I am conscious that my relationship with my father, with their history and community, will have an impact on the direction of their lives. I am loathe to steer or direct them in any way for fear of repeating my father but my sense or at least my hope is that they will, like me, eventually find their own way and make an accommodation through his story. I feel that my job is to ensure that they learn the truth about my father, guide them and leave them with enough clues to give them a secure sense of the past so that they can shape their future.

Several events are planned to mark the 10th anniversary of Ken Saro-Wiwa's death

Tomorrow: English PEN event with readings from Saro-Wiwa's writing. Soho Theatre and Writers' Centre, London W1. Tickets: 0870 429 6883

Wednesday: Wole Soyinka, Alice Oswald and Byron Wallen at the Purcell Room 7.45pm. Tickets 0870 160 2522

Thursday: Silent vigil, organised by Mosop-UK, outside the offices of Shell, York Road, London SE1, 8am until 9am. The winner of the Living Memorial commission will be announced at Bernie Spain Gardens, South Bank, London SE1 at 11am


Saunders-Roe

It is acknowledged that whilst Saunders-Roe history in aviation does not necessarily connect directly into BAE Systems, the inter-relationship with the various companies, products, personnel and heritage run in such close parallels to Vickers, Hawker Siddeley and Gloster-Saro that we believe they deserve recognition.

Based at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, Saunders-Roe Limited was created in 1929 when Alliott Verdon-Roe left AVRO and along with his business partner John Lord, took control of boat builders S.E. Saunders Limited.

Saunders Roe Works at Columbine Isle of Wight

Saunders had been involved with the production of amphibian biplanes, predominantly of wooden construction (albeit their last projects were formed with their patented &lsquocorrugated&rsquo metal structure for the hull), such as the plywood covered Saunders A4 Medina.

Under the name Saunders-Roe Limited (abbreviated to SARO), development and production increased: firstly with the construction of twelve A.17 Cutty Sark monoplanes, twenty-two A.19 Cloud flying boats for the RAF and thirty-one A.27 London reconnaissance aircraft for use on patrol around the UK and Canadian Coastlines.

In 1931, investment firm Whitehall Securities took a substantial holding in Saunders-Roe Limited. Whitehall already had a substantial stake in Spartan Aircraft Limited (Southampton) which it subsequently merged with Saunders-Roe Limited in 1933.

Just before the outbreak of the Second World War, Saunders-Roe Limited re-organised itself and clearly split the shipyard and boat-building business into Saunders Shipyard Limited.

During the conflict, two further factories were opened on the Island of Anglesey, with Saunders-Roe Limited converting and maintaining Consolidated Catalina flying boats at Llanfaes. Meanwhile, their marine sister company (now known as Saunders Engineering and Shipbuilding &ndash SEAS), diversified into the production of motor bodies for Crossley Motors.

This later led to their involvement with Leyland and the production of bodies for the new Leyland Road Tiger, or RT Double-Decker as it is often better know .

Saunders-Roe aviation activities mainly concentrated on the manufacturing of 462 of the RJ Mitchell designed Supermarine Walrus Mk1 and Mk2&rsquos as well as 290 Supermarine Sea Otters.

SRA1 on River Thames outside The Festival Hall in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain

In 1947, the company experimented in jet power with the SR.A/1 flying boat fighter and although it proved to have good performance and handling, the withdrawal of the Metropolitan Vickers Beryl jet engine from production saw the whole project mothballed in 1950.

The company also went through a difficult period during the early 1950&rsquos with the further cancellation of the SR.45 Princess, one of the world&rsquos largest all-metal flying boats.

During 1951, Saunders-Roe took over the helicopter interests of the Cierva Autogiro Company and so entered the rotary aircraft business. The SARO Skeeter 2-seat training helicopter and the Scout and Wasp helicopters (derived from the SARO P531) entered service with the Army and Navy both in the UK and Germany in 1956.

The last &lsquofixed-wing&rsquo aircraft produced by Saunders-Roe Limited was the SR.53, a delta-wing, mixed-power (jet and rocket) interceptor of 1957. Despite early interest, it was overtaken commercially by the development of surface-to-air missiles and it was abandoned a year later.

Saunders-Roe Limited also undertook a number of fascinating &lsquoair-cushion&rsquo projects during the 1950&rsquos, none of which sadly matched the invention of Christopher Cockerell (later Sir Christopher Cockerell).

In 1958, the Government-backed National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) placed a contract with Saunders-Roe Limited to produce a full-scale Hovercraft designated SR-N1 and on 11th June 1959, the SR-N1 appeared in public for the first time carrying 4 men across the water at a recorded 28mph.

Seven weeks later it successfully crossed from France to Dover, exactly 50-years to the day after the first historic air crossing by Louis Blériot.

A forced merger in 1959 saw the rotary aircraft interests of Saunders-Roe Limited combined with that of Westland Aircraft who continued to produce the Scout and the Wasp. The merger resulted in the facilities on the Isle of Wight being divided between Westland Aircraft and Hawker Siddeley Limited, who utilised the available skills of the workforce in very different ways.

Westland continued to develop hovercraft vehicles at Cowes, although it later merged its activities with Vickers-Armstrongs in 1966 to form the British Hovercraft Corporation.

Meanwhile, Hawker Siddeley Limited amalgamated their part of SARO with the Gloster Aircraft Company to create Gloster-Saro Limited. The company utilised both companies expertise and skills in forming aluminium for the production of SARO fire appliances, petrol tankers and other specialist vehicles.

This final amalgamation saw the end of the Saunders-Roe name in aviation.


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