I was rooting for our African brother Ngugi wa Thiong’o to win the literature prize. Time is running out to honour the erudite Kenyan writer and academic, Professor Ngugi, who is now 82 years old. 

Hearty  congratulations to Ms. Louise Glück as this year’s laureate in literature and women folks in general. She is the first American writer to win the Nobel prize in Literature 27 years after Toni Morrison took the prize in 1993. 

I listened live, and the academy chose her for “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.” She is the 16th woman to win the Nobel. Awesome.

Kenyan writer Professor Ngugi wa Thiong’o misses out on another Nobel Literature prize. If our African brother  Ngugui had won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, he would have been the second African laureate in Literature since 1986 when Nigerian writer Professor Wole Soyinka won the prize. 

Professor Ngugi wa Thiong’o is the writer the world needs now. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o body of works not only sits among a handful in the pantheon of African writers, but the man’s body of works is also deserving of a Nobel Prize in Literature. The Committee has repeatedly passed over him. 

Slavoj Žižek, on the news from Stockholm last year, decried how the Nobel Committee determined deserving Nobel Prize winners and opined that in 2014, Peter Handke called for the Nobel to be abolished, saying it was a ‘false canonisation’ of Literature. 

According to the Sweden-based Nobel Prize Committee awarded the 2018 and 2019 Prize for Literature to “crimes-against-humanity apologist” to Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk and “genocide apologist” Peter Handke of Austria, quipped. The fact that he got it now proves that he was right. 

This is Sweden: an apologist of war crimes gets a Nobel prize while a continent of the true hero of all times should be left out of the literature Nobel prize for Ngugi wa Thiong’o but the Nobel peace prize for Olga Tokarczuk.” 

Well, Ngugi wa Thiong’o did some incredible things, and I am not sure he’s simply the hero of our times.

The 82-year-old Ngugi published his first book in English in 1964, which is the first by a writer from East Africa. He later changed his language of writings to his native Gikuyu language. He set up a revolutionary theatre in the 1970s that provoked the authoritarian regime, leading to his arrest and imprisonment for over a year; his 1977 play ( I Will Marry When I Want) bore a political message. 

Ngugi continued to write from prison, where he wrote this first Gikuyu novel. He later went into exile to the United States after his release and subsequent harassment of his family and lost his teaching job at Nairobi University. 

In the United States, he became a professor of Comparative Literature and Performance Studies at Yale University, New York University, and the University of California, Irvin, where he taught Comparative Literature and the International Center forWriting and Translation. 

He has several works, including — Weep Not Child, The River Between, A Grain of Wheat — and plays, short stories, children’s literature, memoirs, essays, among others.

The Nobel prize for Literature generally goes to writers who tend towards magical realism and abstraction than realists and overtly political writers. So, it went to Toni Morrison and not Amiri Baraka. To Wole Soyinka and not Chinua Achebe. 

Of the five literature prizes won in Africa, only one was won by a black African. Three went to Caucasians from the settler colonies of Zimbabwe and South Africa, including Coetzee, who would not tolerate living in black-ruled South Africa and moved to Australia. 

It’s irritating to hear scholars at African literature conferences look for Coetzee’s anti-apartheid credentials in his work like needles in a haystack. Just like they try to defend Joseph Conrad’s racist novel. It is probably the famous and robust attack against that book that got Achebe snubbed by the Nobel people.

Like Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, I consider an apologist for French settler colonialism in Algeria, where he was born before moving to France, is sometimes listed as an African winner. Moreover, now you can see who won this year—an apologist of genocide.

According to Slavoj Žižek, “The fact that he got it now proves that he was right. This is Sweden today: an apologist of war crimes gets a Nobel prize while the country fully participated in the character assassination of the true hero of our times, Julian Assange. 

Our reaction should be not the Literature Nobel prize for Handke but the Nobel Peace prize for Assange.” Well, Assange did some incredible things, but I am not sure he’s simply the hero of our times.”

So, it is not surprising that Kenyan  Professor Ngugi wa Thiong’o has not won the prize. The largest number of black and African laureates is in peace because we fight each other or fight white people. 

According to the Nobel people, we don’t create, whether in science or art.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow 

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