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The Nobel Peace Prize has come under one too many controversies since its inception. The most recent incident to bring it under the scrutiny of public observers is the nomination of the United States President, Donald Trump.
A far-right Norwegian politician, Christian Tybring-Gjedde had put Mr Trump’s name forward for the 2021 prize, citing the president’s role in the recent peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Christian Tybring-Gjedde had remarked that:
‘For his merit, I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other peace prize nominees.’
Adding that he was not a big Trump supporter, he added:
‘The committee should look at the facts and judge him on the facts – not on the way he behaves sometimes.’
For a nomination alone, the barrier to entry is low: all nominations from Presidents or politicians serving at a national level are accepted.
University professors, directors of foreign policy institutes, past recipients of a Nobel Prize and members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee are also among those deemed qualified to submit a nomination for the prize. The nominations require no invitation and as long they are entered before 1 February of the qualifying year, they will be accepted.
Trump’s nomination and the Nobel Prize has come under scrutiny because the argument for his nomination does not really serve all nations in that region. It has also been argued that as far as peace settings go, President Donald Trump has done a terrible Job in brokering peace agreements with other countries. This was cited in his decision to deliberately allow Turkey to attack the Syrian border where both American and Kurdish forces were stationed. In so doing he weakened relations between Americans and the Kurds for no true reason other than to make President Erdogan happy.
Even in the United States of America, he has been sending out the violent militia to attack other Americans. This was demonstrated in his Kyle Rittenhouse response. The story of a 17-year-old who went onto the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, to keep the peace but ended up accused of killing two protesters and injuring a third has been dominated US headlines since it happened. Donald Trump outrightly defended the actions of Rittenhouse, saying he was only trying to maintain Law and Order. He has also been coordinating the right-wing extremists, known to be terrorists by the FBI to attack peaceful protesters. Some of these peaceful protesters have been murdered on the streets by extremists vigilantes who are his supporters. This is the same man who regards American soldiers to be suckers and losers. His real reason for not wanting to visit the cemetery in France where hundreds of marines were buried after the world war one was because he did not want to attend a ceremony for ‘suckers and losers.’
Donald Trump has intentionally cleaved America into two warring camps: pro-Trump and anti-Trump. And he has convinced the pro-Trumps that his enemy is their enemy. Most Americans are not passionate conservatives or liberals, Republicans or Democrats. But they have become impassioned Trump supporters or Trump haters.
He has also been accused of using the divide and conquer strategy on the American people to help improve American oligarchy by giving out generous tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks. He does this by stoking division and racism so that most Americans don’t see the CEOs of blue-chip companies getting exorbitant pay while slicing the pay of average workers. So that they won’t also notice the giant tax cuts and bailouts for big corporations and the wealthy while most people make do with inadequate schools and unaffordable healthcare, and don’t pay attention to the bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign donations in the United States of America.
America’s super-rich have amassed more wealth and power than at any time in the history of the United States of America, enough to get legislative outcomes they want and organise the system for their own benefit.
Since the start of the pandemic, the nation’s billionaires have become $565bn richer, even as 42.6 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. Job losses have disproportionately affected black Americans, and America’s racial wealth gap continues to grow. The rich know that as long as racial animosity exists, white and black Americans are less likely to look upward and see where the wealth and power really have gone.
While Trump’s nomination may have raised some eyebrows, many previous candidates have been controversial for various other reasons thus resulting in the popular notion that the Nobel Committee’s choices of winners are politically motivated. It has also been accused of pure Eurocentrism in the prize’s winners.
This can be explained with these few popular examples: Henry Kissinger who was recognised and awarded for his efforts in negotiating a ceasefire in the Vietnam war. While negotiating that ceasefire, Kissinger was secretly carpet-bombing Cambodia. The worst of his bombing started in February 1973, a month after Washington, Hanoi and Saigon signed the Paris Peace accords. It’s little wonder that Le Duc Tho, the Vietnamese communist leader who was awarded the prize alongside Kissinger, rejected it in disgust.
Then you’ve got Shimon Peres, who was jointly awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1994 with Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat. In the decades before getting the prize Peres systematically helped amp up Israel’s nuclear capabilities, which is completely at odds with the committee’s stipulation that the award should go to those who help demilitarise their country. Two years after the prize, Peres was responsible for a massacre that killed 106 people sheltering in a UN compound in the Lebanese town of Qana.
While Kissinger and Peres are two of the more egregious examples, there are numerous other peace laureates who have been extremely dubious choices, including Colombian leader Juan Manuel Santos and the EU to name just a few.
The peace prize was given to the EU ‘for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe,’ according to the award committee. This was met with a lot of ridicule and disagreement about the choice, as the European Union was dealing with several pressing economic problems, including the Greek debt crisis, and because several European countries make and sell weapons.
Another good example of the biased nature of the Nobel Peace Prize was with Chinua Achebe of the blessed memory and his counterpart Wole Soyinka. Surely Wole Soyinka is a wonderful literary writer and activist, but when compared with Achebe, he simply did not par with him.
Professor Chinua Achebe was inarguably the finest writer to have come out of Africa. Often regarded as the Father of Modern African Literature, Achebe was the only African writer whose book, Things Fall Apart, published in 1958 has ranked 84 in the list of 100 bestselling books of all time. No doubt, this is a great feat for any writer considering the millions of books that have been written. It is pertinent to note, however, that Achebe also had other marvellous works: Arrow of God, No Longer at Ease, A Man of the People, Ant Hills of the Savannah, There Was A Country; and some children novels to his credit.
While also overseeing the Heinemann’s African Writer Series, Achebe made significant inputs into the works of prominent African writers. This, of course, gave global reckoning to African literature. At his death on March 21st 2013, Achebe had become a great inspiration to a new generation of African writers including the award-winning Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and several others. As a matter of fact, Google recently put up a doodle to posthumously honour Achebe.
Following Achebe’s wizardry at his craft, the priceless influence he had on African literature, his international reputation and popularity, one would have expected Achebe, instead of Wole Soyinka, to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986 or afterwards. Unfortunately, this was never the case. The Swedish Academy, the body of mostly European judges who award the Nobel prize, conspired against Chinua Achebe and gave the award to Soyinka (who is to this very day the only West African to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature).
The West, puppeteering the Swedish Academy, denied Achebe the Nobel Prize and awarded it to Wole Soyinka because Achebe’s works conflicted, in most cases, against Western values; whereas Soyinka’s works often emphasised the triumph of Western civilisation and modernisation over traditional African values as can be seen in his work, ‘The Lion and the Jewel’, when compared with Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart.’ For instance, in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, there are several instances where Achebe questioned the whole idea of Western civilisation, education, and religion, suggesting that Africa had a sophisticated culture that did not need an European upgrade. On the other hand, Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel projected the image of Africa as a continent helplessly taken over by modernisation. Therefore, the works of Soyinka, being less offensive for a Western mind, was preferred to Achebe’s works and awarded the Nobel Prize.
Again, Achebe was rigged out of the Nobel prize because of his virulent attack on the seemingly racist works of prominent English writers such as H. Rider Haggard and Joseph Conrad. Particularly, Achebe’s masterpiece essay, An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness critically examined Conrad’s popular short novel, Heart of Darkness, and concluded it was racist. Achebe’s criticism of Conrad was so strong and compelling that it has become a tradition in Western literature to study both works side by side. As a matter of fact, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart was a reaction to the shock received from Conrad’s work. It is therefore not surprising that the West conspire to deny Achebe a Nobel prize as a payback for the criticism of Western literature.
Another reason Achebe was deprived of the Nobel Prize was because of his role in the Nigerian Civil War as one of Biafra’s envoy to Europe, to help get support for his country. The English-speaking Western powerhouses such as Great Britain and the United States were on the side of Nigeria during the bloody war. This, of course, put Achebe at loggerheads with these Western powers who had a strong interest in Nigeria. In the end, the West used the Swedish Academy to deny Achebe the prize consistently. After all, it is he who pays the piper that dictates the tune.
Nevertheless, even without the Nobel prize, Achebe’s place as the Father of Modern African Literature remains eternally guaranteed.
Indeed, the Nobel peace prize has become so tainted that some peace activists refuse to be associated with it. Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician who spent 18 years in prison for leaking details of Israel’s nuclear programme, had asked repeatedly to be removed from a list of Nobel peace prize nominees. In a 2009 letter to the Nobel committee, he said he didn’t want ‘to belong to a list of laureates that also includes Shimon Peres, the man behind Israeli atomic policy.’
Perhaps it’s only to be expected that the Nobel Peace Prize has descended into farce. It was, after all, born out of a mistake. As the story goes, in 1888 a French newspaper erroneously wrote that Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, had died. The paper marked the event of Alfred’s non-death with a bit of quality French snark: ‘Dr Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.’ Nobel was mortified that he was going to be remembered as a ‘merchant of death’ and so set up the Nobel Prize. It was a calculated rebranding effort and a simple exercise in Personal Relations thus the reason why it is partisan in nature.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK