Friday, January 1, 2010

Peace, Politics, And The Noble Candidacy of Morgan Tsvangirai

Like many, I was surprised to learn President Obama had won the 2010 Noble Peace Prize.

And I was more surprised to learn his victory was not universally celebrated by African leaders.  

Accustomed to being accorded second class status, several Africans felt Obama's victory minimized the leadership and courage of one of their own: Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

This position was echoed by others knowledgeable about African politics.

The Daily Kos wrote:

"The Nobel Peace Prize is about who you are, not who you aren't."

"9 months ago, Barack Obama was the junior senator from Illinois, and I hope that over the next 39 (hopefully 87) months he does something to earn the award, but there is simply no comparison between his actions to date (less than 9 months) to the years long efforts of Morgan Tsvangirai . . .  on behalf of peace, reconciliation, and justice."

Tsvangirai's record is clear.

For over a decade, he has challenged Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe - one of the world's most ruthless dictators.  Tsvangirai has been repeatedly arrested, jailed, and tortured.  He has survived three assassination attempts.  Condemning human rights violations, Tsvangirai has consistently urged peaceful solutions to his country's problems.

In 2002 and 2008 he ran against Mugabe for the presidency.  Both elections were marred by massive fraud.  Despite winning the 2008 election, Tsvangirai was denied the presidency by Mugabe.  Soon after the election ended, Mugabe began to punish his opponent's supporters.  Tsvangirai stayed the course.  Eventually, an agreement was reached with Mugabe and the two share power.

Writing in Brown University's Daily Herald, Dominic Mhiripiri, a student who grew up in African, explained the Noble Peace Prize denial of Tsvangirai's candidacy:

"I took Obama's Nobel success with a personal dimension," notes Mhiripiri, "as it denied a similar triumph for a bold and courageous countryman whose sacrifice has been a beacon of hope in the storied struggle for democracy in my country and across the African continent."

"In risking his life for his country, Tsvangirai has slowly established himself as the face of an emerging brand of 21st-century African leaders who value peace and democracy more than personal power, recognition, and wealth."

Although living in a part of the world often neglected by the major powers, Tsvangirai's actions deserve world wide acclaim.

Hopefully, his merits will be fully considered when the Committee makes it next selection. 

By: Carlos Batara, United States, and Olusegun Iselaiye, Nigeria


Mark said...

Tsvanfirai truly deserves this nomination, looking at the chronicles of his predicaments and patience.

San Diego Jose said...

Obama's "victory" was, more accurately, Obama being recognized for instantly improving the international environment...just by his winning the presidency...without his having done much of anything at all. It is clear that his election brought great hope to so many of our planet's residents...especially given the eight previous years of lost U.S. cooperation with world leaders in addressing world peace, protection of the environment, and more. Please applaud Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for his heroic contributions. But, why repackage Obama's prize selection as a denial by anyone towards anyone else? Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's courage and humanitarism absolutely deserve world wide acclaim. However, what I see in the argument here is the political equivalent of Kanye West horning in on Taylor Swift's moment of glory. Let's get a grip and congratulate Obama for being awarded the prize...AND recognize Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for his achievements as well. We can do both...easily...instead of using one good man to take a swipe at another.

isedot said...

Truly, Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize Award, but it came rather too early - that's the point here! As for Morgan Tsvangirai, he deserves, at least, nomination in recognition of his enormous contribution to peace in his country.... Note that I said in his country. But, be that as it may, he constitutes an object that is worthy of emulation by other opposition parties in Africa, and then the whole world.

Do not get me wrong here, my Obama, permit me to address him this way please, deserves this award but not that early - I take the root to this point from Wangari Muta Maathai's 2004 Nobel Peace Prize "victory". She has something in common with President Obama, and that's what I call the "Spiritual Insight". Another thing she has in common is the Kenyan root. Professor Wangari began to set her record decades before she finally got the award in 2004. Though I won't be surprised at all if Obama turns out to be an Angel at last; in fact, Obama is an Angel.... Just wait and see whether Obama will not be nominated for another Nobel Peace Prize Award.

In conclusion, it took other Nobel Peace Prize winners like Wangari years to attain "victory", why is President Obama's different? I need an answer to this, but don't get me wrong again - President Obama's award came rather prematurely not that he does not deserve it. I love Obama and I will continue to declare my love for him anywhere, anytime...Olusegun

Carlos Batara said...

One of the reasons for this blog is to share views across the globe. Such sharing is needed because here in the U.S., so little is known about what's going on in other places.

Tscangirai's peace credentials are an example. In my view, it's clear he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. But so little is known about what he has endured and accomplished by U.S. citizens.

There were a few other good candidates who were also overlooked by the committee. Had one of those individuals won, it still would not taken away from Tsvangirai's merits -but at least the basis of the committee's decision would have been easier to understand.