Imagine this, you have been announced the winner of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize which is now at $1.5m (£950,000). Of course converting the figures in Kenyan currency sounds outrageous. You are serving a jail term, so you cannot make it to the ceremony and your partner is under house arrest, none of your relatives is allowed to attend the ceremony on your behalf. How does this make you feel?
Since 1901,The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to individuals who have had achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine and peace. Alfred Nobel, the founder of the award was interested in social issues therefore engaging in peace movements. Each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award.
On landing to Norway, The Nobel Peace Center was one of the historic places I visited and of course took time to tour the building after a friend volunteered to show me around. Mentioning that I come from Kenya, I remember him saying “Wangari Maathai is from Kenya, right? She won the Nobel in 2004, let me take you to where you can see her portrait. Of course I did go and also got a chance to see other laureates including Barak Obama and read his speech, as well as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
This year´s Nobel Peace announcement has been one of the most spoken about story that has continued to receive headlines in most Norwegian mediums as well as in the International arena. Of course China is angry with the Norwegian Nobel Committee for awarding the prize to Liu Xiaobo for what is believed to be his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.
“Why are they annoyed with Norway? We don´t decide who receives the award. It is done by a committee of individuals who are chosen by the Norwegian Storting. The award is a National award administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden,” said a Norwegian journalist.
I spent my last Friday in Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation in Oslo offices with a team of journalists who worked tirelessly to ensure that the 8 hour live broadcast was a success. With guests every half an hour, it proved to be a busy day, dignitaries ranging from ministers, professors from various Universities in Norway, political analysts, human rights activists and Chinese dignitaries living in Norway.
I got an opportunity to talk to some of the guests, many believing that Liu Xiaobo deserves the award. However in China´s perspective, the jailed dissident is a criminal and the country had continued to wage a campaign to discredit it terming it irrelevant and a slap on the face.
Before the event, China had blocked some of the international news sites so as to stop the news reaching it´s own citizens. I found this interesting and journalists did their best to cover their story. There was a blackout in China which is believed to have coincided with the event, how appropriate I thought. Of course, China´s government denied being behind the black out. The BBC´s website was also blocked and so were sites operated by Human Rights watch.
Foreign journalists who were gathered at Liu Xiaobo´ apartment in Beijing were barred from entering by police who have been manning the compound since the announcement of his win. Still the efforts did not stop the Nobel Peace Prize committee from holding a lavish ceremony in Oslo. There was no public comment made, no family member of the winning laureate attended and it was said that the event received no coverage in the Soviet media.
His chair remained empty during the event and for once I wished they should have allowed me to sit there instead leaving it empty.
I read the speech by Nobel chairman Thorbjorn Jagland with a lot of interest and it´s justification as to why Liu deserved to win the award. “We regret that the Laureate is not present here today. He is in isolation in a prison in north-East Chuna. Nor can the Laurates wife Lui Xia or his closest relatives be here with us. No medal or diploma will therefore be represented here today. This fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate. We congratulate Lui Xiaobo on this year´s Peace Prize.” Read the speech, quoting the first paragraph of the Norwegian Nobel Committe´ announcement in October, 2010.
The Nobel committee is calling for Mr Liu to be freed immediately, saying: “He hasn’t done anything wrong.” Others include last year´s winner, US President Barack Obama.
Liu was arrested in December 25, 2009 and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment and two years loss of political rights for what is claimed to be incitement to overthrow the state power and socialist system and the people´s democratic dictatorship. This he considered to be violation of both China´s own constitution and fundamental human rights.
The speech closes with great quotation from Isaac Newton, who once said, “ If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of the giants”. When we are able to look ahead today, it is because we are standing on the shoulders of the many men and women who over the years often a great risk have stood up for what they believed in and thus made our freedom possible.
Therefore: while others at this time are counting their money, focussing exclusively on their short-term national interests, or remaining indifferent, the Norwegian Nobel committee has once again chosen to support those who fight-fight for us all.”
Just been thinking, nature has a way of giving back to those who tirelessly fight for a worthy course! I think it is a great lesson to most of us, fight on, keep no matter how tough it can be, be assured someone is watching and you will get a reward for it, if not on this earth, then maybe God will!
Just my thought for the week and have decided to pursue and live my ambitions, am not stopping, if Liu Xiaobo did it, got jailed for it and now he has received an award for his efforts, why not me???
Do have a great week, won´t you?