Art, Life and Death Row

Here’s an amazing story  (scroll down to p. 36 in the pdf)  I just came across today about a man who was on Nigeria’s death row for more than 10 years  – for a crime he didn’t commit. In that time, he used art to survive not only the horrid conditions in Nigerian prison, but also the trauma of watching over four hundred other men be hanged. His name is Arthur Judah Angel. And here’s some of his art:

I think he’s written the names of other prisoners there and their execution dates in this artwork. Here’s an article with more information and a slide show of his work.

 According to Amnesty International,  Nigeria’s penal system is rife with abuse of both law and human rights. There are many sites online about how bad the prison system is there, the beatings and torture, the corrupt police and officials, the inhumane prison conditions, and the questionable executions.

You may want to take a look at the official website for Nigeria’s prison system.  What stood out most to me was apparently its  official motto seems to be “If you cannot do the time, do not do the time.” I’m serious. It says that on the website.

Along with prison corruptuon, Sharia (Muslim religious law) is also connected to death penalty cases in Nigeria. It exists in 12 northern Nigerian states.  Sharia Law has led to men and women accused of adultery or homosexual acts being sentenced to stonings in the past. I think it started in northern Nigeria in the early 2000s. In this NY Times article from 2007, it seems they had gotten rid of some of the more severe penalties and methods of enforcement (there had been a “morality police” squad). It’s worth looking at this article, perhaps ironically, for the cute photo of the little  kids at the top of the piece.

Justice and law in Nigeria is certainly a deep subject – one I’ve never considered before and oen that keeps getting deeper with each article I find.   It looks like the go-to people for bringing this stuff into the light and pressuring the Nigerian government to shape up are Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for anyone interested in digging deeper. You can also read about justice efforts inside Nigeria here

I’m learning a lot with this theme. I still need to look at the to big ones – oil and the recent violence in Jos. So much information, so little time!

Stay dry, my fellow New Englanders.

And now here it is, folks, your moment of twin:


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