Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded not in Stockholm but in Oslo, and so that is where this past Friday the 2004 winner, the Kenyan vice-minister for the environment Wangari Maathai, was the honored guest of the Norwegian royal family for her awards ceremony. Naturally, she was given the floor in Oslo’s City Hall, and made use of it to deliver various remarks, reported by among others Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Maathi [sic]: Africans Must Resolve Conflicts Themselves). The first African woman ever to win the prize, and at the same time the first environmentalist, whose organization is credited with planting more than 30 million trees on that continent, asserted in her remarks the tight relationship between conservation of the environment and conservation of peace. But ultimately, solutions for Africa’s many conflicts, and for its poverty, must come out of Africa itself. She also expressed her hope that her accomplishment inspire other African women and girls to fulfill their own potential.
The Berliner Morgenpost account (Nobel Prize for Peace to African Woman) added further interesting details. For the first time the awards ceremony there in Oslo featured African rhythms and dances. The 64-year-old Mrs. Maathai declared that “Industry and international institutions must understand that economic justice and ecological soundness are worth more than profit at any price,” and that “much still remains to leave a world full of beauty and wonder to our children.” (Oh, words of absolute music to the left-wing German audience to which the Berliner Morgenpost caters!)
I’m glad to see this coverage, as it offers me another chance that I missed back in October when all the Nobel prize-winners were announced – namely the chance to pronounce my own judgment on the Peace Prize search committee’s work, which is: “Not bad – but.” (more…)