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E-M:/ An Important Event at MSU

Enviro-Mich message from SEAC-MSU <seac@pilot.msu.edu>

THIS THURSDAY, APRIL 23, HAFSAT ABIOLA, the daughter of Nigeria's jailed
president elect, WILL BE COMING TO CAMPUS to speak about the tumultuous
political situation in Nigeria. The talk will be held IN THE NORTHWESTERN
ROOM of the MSU UNION at 8:30 PM. Please come and join us for what
promises to be a fascinating look into Nigerian politics.
Direct any questions to amnesty@pilot.msu.edu

Nigeria should be in the conscious of the MSU community following last
month’s visit to the country by Pope Paul II, and President Clinton’s visit
to Africa without visiting that continent’s most populous nation as a sign
of disapproval of the country’s military regime. During the Nigeria visit,
the Pope pushed his call for human rights, tolerance and compassion,
directing his message toward both the military Government of Gen. Sani
Abacha and the country's clashing religious groups.  General Abacha seized
power in 1993 after the military annulled the results of presidential
elections. He has promised a return to democracy and fair presidential
elections in August, but hundreds of political prisoners, including the
presumed winner of the 1993 elections, Moshood K. O. Abiola, remain in

Who is Hafsat Abiola:
Hafsat was born and bred in Nigeria. She spent her early childhood in
Lagos, a coastal city and the former capital of Nigeria, surrounded by an
extensive and tightly knit family. At fifteen, Hafsat left Nigeria to
complete high school at Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts.  She
then went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Economy at

Life took several unexpected turns in 1992 beginning with her father’s
decision to run in the first democratic Presidential election to be held
in ten years.  Her father won the election with 58% of over fourteen
million votes.  Unfortunately, the eight-member ruling military council
annulled the results and incarcerated Abiola along with thousands of
other political activists and journalists.  The result is the ongoing
national crisis.

The pro-democracy forces, despite much repression, remained strong with
some of Hafsat’s family again providing crucial leadership.  As her
mother, Kudirat, mobilized groups within Nigeria, Hafsat followed her
example and began working with pro-democracy groups abroad.  However, on
June 4 1996, Kudirat was assassinated in the streets of Lagos Nigeria,
apparently by agents of the military.  She was 44 years old. 
Memorializing her life, Hafsat established an institute called the
Kudirat Institute for Nigerian Democracy (KIND).  

KIND seeks to help restore democracy to Nigeria; to strengthen civil
society; and enhance accountability in all public institutions. To build
one of KIND’s programs, the Friends of Nigeria program, Hafsat often
tours American cities and democratic countries to speak on her country’s
struggle to end authoritarianism. Although currently based in Washington
D.C., KIND will eventually operate from Nigeria.

Asked how she will measure personal success, Hafsat replies:  “How I
would measure achievement is suggested to me by a comment Mary Harris
“Mother” Jones made. ‘I’m not a humanitarian,’ she said, ‘I am a hell
raiser.’  I do not feel that I am a hell raiser, but I do want to
structure spaces wherein people can express themselves, or raise hell if
they want.  Not surprisingly, structuring spaces does require raising
hell.  Articulating the concerns of people and working so that they can
express themselves are the things I must do so that I may enjoy the
reward of being exposed to the ideas, spirit and voices of those
presently stifled.”

Hafsat is considered one of the best speakers on the present crisis in
Nigeria: she easily distills centuries of history, the imbroglio that is
the current political crisis and the different aspects of suffering in
Nigeria.  Specifically, she talks about the human rights situation, the
link between the environmental crisis and the oil multinationals and the
growing movement in the United States to support the people of Nigeria. 
Because she often draws on personal experiences and anecdotes, her
message is accessible to a wide range of individuals and groups.  She is
particularly effective in addressing women, youths and progressive

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