By Joseph Udofia
“Is the Nobel Prize for Peace awarded for accomplishments or is it now a laughing stock?”
I couldn’t but sense a dint of sarcasm when Malala Yousafzai was presented the Nobel Prize for Peace at Stockholm on December 10, 2014. This particlur prize though, has always sparked a lot of debate. President Barack Obama, one who won the award in 2009, despite waging war on the Arab World, had me wandering if “Peace” has another meaning. Ever since its inception in 1901, the award has been handed over to people who have done the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition of standing armies and for the promotion of peace congresses. Other beneficiaries have worked to stem climate change among other things.
Paying a price for your passion is one thing the Norwegian Nobel Committee encourages. Being a Pakistani (seen as Taliban), a girl (seen as the weaker sex), a child (seen as a novice), yet standing up for girl child education (an anathema in the Arab world) and paying a huge price for it is sheer courage. However, is that enough to command the Nobel Prize?
Over the years, recipients of the Prize have made great sacrifices in promoting peace, diplomacy and resolving conflicts in the world. In 2013, according to Nobel Committee, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) got the award for “its extensive effort to eliminate chemical weapons. This was not debatable as Syria was in the eye of the storm for its use of Chemical Weapon on foreign soldiers. In years to come undoubtedly, they would continue to do so. When Martin Luther King Jr was awarded the Prize in 1964, he had led protests for Civil Rights and Social Justice. He was awarded the Prize for his non-violent campaign against racism. He had done this for years, and definitely did this for four more years before he was assassinated.
Hence, the Nobel Prize had gained international reputation, not just for the Gold Medal, Diploma and over $1.2 million handed over to the laureates, but for the reputation and works of the recipients. However, this year’s award, rubbished the great deal of works, done by the co-recipient, Kailash Satyarthi. Kailash Satyarthi was awarded the Prize for “his struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”. Since 1980 when he founded the “Save the Childhood Movement”, he has been at the forefront children’s rights and remains committed to put an end to Child Labour in India, and outside. Due to Satyarthi’s works, the International Labour Organisation adopted new guidelines on the forms of Child Labour.
Truly, Malala is at the forefront of Female Education and Activism in Pakistan, and is known worldwide for her human rights advocacy for education. She had pushed back barriers created by Talibans who have banned girls from attending schools. Surviving gunshot wounds to the head and shoulder, yet remaining undeterred and committed to her course is worthy of recognition. However, it is too early to judge Malala’s works which haven’t stood the test of time. Malala came to limelight in the Western Media after this attack. It is safe to say that, if Malala hadn’t been shot, her woks would not be recognized by the Western Media and thus she may not be considered for this prestigious prize. If the Prize is awarded based on a short show, then the Pope also deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. Pope has attempted to foster peace between the Arab World and the West, gays and heterosexuals, and people at different extremes of the world.
I think the award of the Nobel Prize to Malala may be a way to mock the Talibans and those who see Girl Child Education as ludicrous. However, does scoring cheap point rank higher than rewarding years of diligence? However the big question is: Is the Nobel Prize for Peace awarded for accomplishments or is it now a laughing stock?
Joseph Udofia wrote this piece for BREAKING TIMES.