Abdi Hassan, who works with the North Eastern Pastoralist Forum in Garissa, Kenya, has written an article, "No committee can shove laureate Liu down the throats of a billion Chinese", in Nairobi-based Daily Nation. He says it is weird that the Nobel Committee could find only a prisoner in the vast and fast-growing country for the Nobel Peace Prize. Excerpts:
China's outrage over awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo was sneered at in many quarters, particularly in the United States and the European Union.
As for the US, diplomatically speaking, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has caught its leaders with their protocol pants truly around their ankles. These leaders had facetiously endorsed the Norwegian Nobel Committee's choice of Liu Xiaobo, who calls for unspecified reform and is now in jail.
What is the link between the Nobel Committee's choice of a "hero" and the gargantuan embarrassment the US government has faced because of the leakage?
The Nobel Committee and the US both want to impose their worldviews on the rest of humanity. What's more, the sort of in-your-face choice the Nobel Committee made in choosing the controversial Liu is tantamount to cultural hegemony and the colonialist assumption of superiority of the worst and most discredited order.
China is a land of more than 1 billion souls, an ancient culture, and the world's second largest and fastest modernizing economy. No fusty little committee in a land that is nowhere near global reach ought to force down the throats of 1 billion Chinese who their hero ought or ought not to be at this historical juncture.
How come the Nobel Committee could find only a prisoner to bestow it peace prize in such a vast, burgeoning country?
Who will reward the technocrats and other experts, the quiet geniuses, who helped China overtake Japan as the world's second largest economy? Who will salute those responsible for China offering help and cooperation without any strings attached to African countries, which for too long were battered by the vicissitudes of aid offered with the most bizarre conditions (by the West)?
The Nobel Committee appears to be caught in a time warp; it still thinks it is honoring presumed Nelson Mandelas. But this will no longer stand. Not in the digital age, in an interconnected world where we now know more about our neighbors and about the world than has ever been known before (ask Julian Assange and US President Barack Obama, both of who, in their different ways, call Kenya home).
Knowledge is no longer merely power (the power to dictate who other people's heroes and heroines should be or to call national leaders and governments all manner of silly names).
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese prisoner is not something that the government of a resurgent China that is making its own way to the top of the world can accept.
As Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu has quietly emphasized, the judicial authorities sentenced Liu to jail for violating Chinese law.
The Nobel Committee would do itself a world of good by restoring the peace prize to its former glory - for instance, when Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, and Jimmy Carter were given the prize.
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