Ultra Bra, “Ken Saro-Wiwa Is Dead”

Ultra Bra. Photo courtesy of 375 Humanists

I’ve always found the wildly popular 1990s Finnish group Ultra Bra slightly baffling albeit intensely interesting.

Only Ultra Bra were capable of packaging trenchant, politically progressive lyrics in musical and vocal arrangements that wouldn’t be out of place on the TV series Glee.

Here’s a great example, “Ken Saro-Wiwa Is Dead,” a wildly upbeat song about a horrible miscarriage of justice.

The lyrics are partly based on the text of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s final statement in court, which, apparently, was never heard by the judges who sentenced him to death.

***

Ken Saro-Wiwa Is Dead

Lord,
I’m a man of peace, of ideas
And I am angered
By the devastation
Of my people’s land
The oil is burning
Just this he once said to them
Ken Saro-Wiwa

Lord,
The man who dared open his mouth thus
Let him finally leave
For such speeches
The electric chair
Or the guillotine
He cannot live after this
Ken Saro-Wiwa

We all stand before history
I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial
Shell is here on trial as well
And crimes are punished according to merit
And a crime is punished

Lord,
The man who dared open his mouth thus
Let him finally leave
For such speeches
The electric chair
Or the guillotine
He cannot live after this
Ken Saro-Wiwa
Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa
Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa

***

Herra tuomari
olen rauhan ja aatteen mies
ja olen vihainen
tuhoamisesta
kansani maan
öljy palaa
vain tämän heille sanoi kerran
Ken Saro-Wiwa

Herra tuomari
kuinka uskalsi avata suunsa tuo mies
korjatkoon luunsa
tuollaisista puheista
sähkötuoli
tai giljotiini
tämän jälkeen ei saa elää
Ken Saro-Wiwa

Me olemme täällä kaikki historian tuomittavina
minä ja kollegani emme ole ainoita syytettyjä
myös Shell on täällä tuomiolla
ja tehdyt rikokset rangaistaan ansionsa mukaan
ja tehty rikos ansionsa mukaan

Herra tuomari
kuinka uskalsi avata suunsa tuo mies
korjatkoon luunsa
tuollaisista puheista
sähkötuoli
tai giljotiini
tämän jälkeen ei saa elää
Ken Saro-Wiwa

Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa
Ken Saro Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa

—Ultra Bra, “Ken Saro-Wiwa on kuollut” (Vapaaherran elämää LP, 1996); source: letssingit.com

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