Obama and the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

Nwachukwu Egbunike


President Barrack Obama had to be draged out of his sleep by his aides – who could not wait for the sun to rise – to inform him that he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee stated that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 was ‘awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.’ I’ll say that the Nobel committee has caught the Obama sneezer effect.

Coming on the heels of  the award to Al-Gore for his green disposition, tackling global climate change, this years award to Obama seems to put the committee at a risk of populism. The Economist queried thus: ‘Although the prize may be given in the spirit of encouraging Mr Obama’s government, it might have been better to wait for more solid achievements. With so many good intentions, and so many initiatives scattered around the world (and an immensely busy domestic agenda, including health-care reform and averting economic collapse), Mr Obama appears to be racing around trying everything without yet achieving much.’

Granted as an African, am quite impressed with what Obama stands for, an Afro-American who has broken out of the cyclical dump that seems to characterise his kin. A man who takes his family life seriously and above all has proved that hue has nothing to do with heights. Nonetheless, it seems that the committee gaffed this time around.

If this the peace prize is supposed to be granted for achievements, then what has Obama achieved within nine months of his presidency? It is rather too premature to make a critical judgement of his government. I hope this Nobel Peace Prize does not end up like honorary Ph.D’s or the National Awards List of my country? From all intents, these two are practically synonymous with oddity and the mentality of gathering titles. Though the Nobel Prize may not equate with the examples stated above, methinks that this is a prize too early. Obama may actually be put on the spot and thus makes him liable to be judged rashly if he does not deliver his promises.

‘To whom much is given, much is also expected’, I hope Mr Obama, would not fail the world that seems to place much trust in him. I hope he moves from rhetorics to action. At least Obama has not taken the path of most African (read Nigerian) politicians who have lost all shame and gather titles with nothing to show for it. To be fair, he did not beg for this award! Congratulations, Mr Obama!


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