Ausria’s Handke To Receive Nobel Prize At Ceremony Amid Controversy

Austrian writer Peter Handke, Nobel Prize Literature laureate 2019, is pictured during his Nobel Lecture at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, December 7, 2019. Jonas EKSTROMER / TT News Agency / AFP

 

Nobel literature laureate Peter Handke, who backed Serbia during the wars in ex-Yugoslavia, receives his prize at a gala ceremony Tuesday in Stockholm, where hundreds are expected to protest.

The Swedish Academy’s pick for the 2019 prize, announced in October, triggered outrage in the Balkans and beyond because of Handke’s support for late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

The 77-year-old Austrian author will receive his Nobel Prize from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony with this year’s other laureates, followed by a gala banquet attended by more than 1,200 special guests.

The Academy honoured Handke “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”

It called him “one of the most influential writers in Europe after the Second World War.”

The choice of Handke came as the Academy struggles to recover from a rape scandal that resulted in the 2018 prize being postponed and awarded this year to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk.

But its pick of Handke has done little to improve its predicament: one Nobel committee member resigned over the choice, one Academy member and representatives of the embassies of Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and Turkey have said they will boycott Tuesday’s ceremony, and at least two demonstrations are due to unfold as he receives his prize.

Handke has also not been invited to a traditional event for literature laureates with high school students in a Stockholm suburb, where many students are of foreign background. Tokarczuk will however attend.

At the Nobel banquet, Handke is the laureate seated furthest from the king and queen at the head table, while Tokarczuk will be seated between the king and Prince Daniel, the husband of Crown Princess Victoria.

Neither the Nobel Foundation nor the palace have commented on seating arrangements.

In 1997 Handke was accused of minimising Serb war crimes in his book “A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia”.

He also drew criticism for speaking at the 2006 funeral of Milosevic, who died while on trial for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 Protests divide Academy 

Hundreds of people are expected to attend an anti-Handke protest at the Norrmalmstorg square in central Stockholm, while a second demonstration is planned outside the Stockholm Concert Hall where the prize ceremony will take place.

“He’s allowed to write what he wants. The problem is that he is being honoured for his writings,” the organiser of one of the protests, Teufika Sabanovic, told AFP.

“He defends war criminals, he qualifies genocide, he qualifies genocide deniers. Where is the limit for what is acceptable?” she said.

Born in Srebrenica in 1990, she lost her father and 70 percent of her relatives in the hamlet when some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995, which the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has recognised as a genocide.

In Stockholm on Friday at a press conference, Handke dodged questions on the Balkan wars, telling reporters: “I like literature, not opinions.”

But in an interview with German weekly Die Zeit in late November, Handke defended his writings.

“Not one word I have written about Yugoslavia can be denounced, not a single one. It’s literature,” he said.

Back then, “reporting about Serbia was monotone and one-sided,” Handke told Die Zeit.

He said he “of course” had to be at Milosevic’s 2006 funeral.

“He voted against dissolving Yugoslavia in one of the last ballots. His funeral was Yugoslavia’s funeral too,” Handke said. “Have people forgotten that this state was founded in opposition to Hitler’s Reich?”

At the same time, Handke said he “not once bowed down before him — not internally, not externally.”

The head of the Swedish Academy’s Nobel committee, Anders Olsson, has insisted Handke is “not a political writer”.

Olsson responded to a letter from survivors of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina: “It is obvious that we understand Peter Handke’s literary work in very different ways.”

But another committee member, Peter Englund, disagreed.

Englund headed the Swedish Academy between 2009 and 2015 and reported on the 1990s conflicts in the Balkans for Swedish newspapers.

“I will not participate in Nobel Week this year…. Celebrating Peter Handke’s Nobel Prize would be pure hypocrisy on my part,” Englund told the daily Dagens Nyheter.

Ironically, in 2014 Handke called for the Nobel Literature Prize to be abolished, saying it conferred a “false canonisation” on the laureate.

AFP

Jimmy Carter Hospitalised For Procedure To Relieve Brain Pressure

File photo of former US President Jimmy Carter. PHOTO: Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

Former US president Jimmy Carter was hospitalised on Monday for a procedure to relieve brain pressure after recent falls, his organisation said.

The 95-year-old Nobel laureate spent three days in hospital last month after suffering a pelvic fracture.

The injury came weeks after he injured his head in a fall at home, recovering quickly to volunteer the next day — with a black eye and a bandage covering 14 stitches — at a Habitat for Humanity site.

He was taken to Emory University Hospital “for a procedure to relieve pressure on his brain,” The Carter Center said in a statement, adding it would take place on Tuesday morning.

“President Carter is resting comfortably, and his wife, Rosalynn, is with him,” it said.

In office from 1977 to 1981, Carter placed a commitment to human rights and social justice at the core of his presidency.

He enjoyed a strong first two years, which included brokering a peace deal between Israel and Egypt dubbed the Camp David Accords.

But his administration hit numerous snags — the most serious being the Iran hostage crisis and the disastrous failed attempt to rescue the 52 captive Americans in 1980.

His handling of the oil crisis of 1979-1980 was also sharply criticized, and images of cars lined up at gas stations were long associated with his presidency.

But as the years passed, a more nuanced image of Carter emerged that took in his post-presidential activities and reassessed his achievements.

He founded the Carter Center in 1982 to pursue his vision of world diplomacy, and he was the recipient of 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless efforts to promote social and economic justice.

In August 2015, Carter revealed he had cancer on his brain and was undergoing radiation treatment — an illness he recovered from, seemingly against the odds.

AFP

Nobel Laureate, Peter Gruenberg Dies At 78

FILE COPY Swedish Princess Madeleine (L) is seated next to German 2007 Nobel Prize physics laureate Peter Gruenberg at the Nobel Banquet at the Town Hall in Stockholm. 
Photo Credit: HENRIK MONTGOMERY / SCANPIX SWEDEN / AFP

 

German physicist Peter Gruenberg, a joint Nobel Prize winner whose work revolutionised digital data storage, has died aged 78, his research centre said Monday.

Professor Gruenberg died last week, said a statement by the Research Centre Juelich near Cologne, mourning the loss of “an excellent researcher” and “well-respected and popular colleague”.

Gruenberg received the 2007 Nobel prize for physics, together with French scientist Albert Fert, after both had separately discovered so-called giant magnetoresistance (GMR) which led to a breakthrough in the development of gigabyte hard disks.

Their work laid the foundations for the field of spintronics, which exploits the quantum mechanical spin of electrons for micro- and nanoelectronics, with applications ranging from videotape to MP3 players and hard disks, said the centre.

“Without exaggeration one can say Peter Gruenberg and his discovery of giant magnetoresistance decisively changed our lives,” said the institute in a statement.

“Without him, modern computers and smartphones as we know them would be unthinkable.”

Gruenberg also received the 2006 European Inventor of the Year award by the European Commission, the German president’s Future Prize in 1989, and honours in Israel, Japan and Turkey.

Tutu Describes Winnie Mandela As ‘Defining Symbol’ Of Anti-Apartheid Struggle

In this file photo taken on April 21, 1999, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela of the African National Congress (ANC) addresses a crowd, in the Mnandi squatter camp some 20 km west of Pretoria. PHOTO: ODD ANDERSEN / AFP

 

Retired South African archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu hailed the late Winnie Mandela, who died on Monday, as “a defining symbol of the struggle against apartheid.”

“She refused to be bowed by the imprisonment of her husband, the perpetual harassment of her family by security forces, detentions, bannings and banishment,” he said.

“Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists.”

AFP

Economic Recession Will Subside In 2017 – President Buhari

Economic Recession Will Ebb In 2017, Says President BuhariPresident Muhammadu Buhari has expressed optimism that the current economic recession will ebb in 2017.

He said this on Monday, in Abuja while declaring open an induction course organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Nigerian Career Ambassadors-designate who were recently cleared by the Senate.

President Buhari said: “We are optimistic that the external factors that partly contributed to push our economy into recession will ebb in 2017. Until then, I regret that the resources available to fund our missions abroad will not be as robust as we would like.

“We are working hard to turn around our national economy by effectively reforming our macroeconomic environment through measures, some of which were outlined in my budget speech to the National Assembly last week.”

The President, who said the prevailing economic circumstances have led to a restructuring of Nigerian missions abroad, reminded the Ambassadors-designate that, “as we are all making great sacrifices at home, we also expect you to similarly make judicious use of the resources put at the disposal of your missions.

“As Heads of missions, you will be held accountable for the utilisation of all resources under your control. These are lean times, and all of us are expected to do more with less.”

Positive Values

President Buhari specifically charged the Ambassadors-designate to change the narrative of Nigeria outside the country by playing up the positive values and outstanding contributions of Nigerians in the global arena.

“I want to emphasise your duty to change the narrative of Nigeria as seen by the outside world.  For far too long, we have allowed Nigeria to be defined by others, always emphasizing our negatives. To the average foreigner, Nigeria evokes 419, terrorism, militancy, communal and religious clashes, insecurity, corruption and all our other faults.

“You have the duty to correct this narrative by taking the initiative to define and portray our country for what it truly is. We are a nation of 180 million vibrant, enterprising, hardworking, hospitable and peaceful people.

“We are a remarkable nation that has succeeded in harnessing our multiple diversities as strengths such that we are the leading country on the continent. Therefore, you will need to mobilise, sensitise and motivate all your staff so that together you engage with your host governments, the private sector and other segments of the society to explain that Nigeria is much more than the negative image portrayed to them,” he said.

Nigerians In Diaspora

President Buhari also enjoined them to leverage on the achievements of Nigerians within the country and in diaspora.

“Think of people like Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, Chinedu Echeruo who founded Hotspot application which he sold to Apple for over a billion Dollars; think of Bayo Ogunlesi, who runs over a billion Dollar Infrastructure Fund and is now Adviser to US President-elect; and Jelani Aliyu, an accomplished car designer at General Motors.

“Indeed, these and other hardworking Nigerian professionals in the diaspora have never forgotten their roots and have been making significant contributions to their communities back home, and even to our economy through their huge remittances.”

He urged them to sustain the work ethic characterized by the love of country, professionalism, excellence, integrity and honour associated with the “Nigerian diplomatic tradition established in 1957 by the pioneers of the Nigerian Foreign Service, sometimes referred to as the “Twelve Apostles” and also “bequeath same to succeeding generations”.

President Buhari also charged the Ambassadors-designate to stress Nigeria’s commitment to international peace and security through contributions “to nearly every UN peacekeeping initiative since 1960 when we achieved our independence. In addition, we are the stabilizers and shock absorbers of West Africa having helped to contain potentially de-stabilizing developments in the sub-region.”

He urged the Ambassadors–designate always to be mindful of the national priorities that “revolve around the economy, security, anti-corruption, good governance, agricultural transformation and infrastructural development, including rail, roads and power” and use their roles “as Principal Representatives to build meaningful partnerships to attract foreign investments, new skills and technologies”.

President Buhari stressed that “as Nigerian Ambassadors, you must set the standard of putting Nigeria first in all your actions.  You must show leadership, fairness and justice to all.  Discipline, probity, accountability and zero tolerance for corruption must be your watchwords. You are expected to project the best image and traditions of our country in your conduct and all you do”.

Soyinka Condemns Call To End BBOG Activities

Wole Soyinka on BBOG activitiesNobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has condemned the call for the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigners to end their actions.

Professor Soyinka says the attempt by security operatives to stop the protesters is not in the interest of democracy.

He stated his disapproval on Thursday at an event in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria.

The Nobel laureate insisted that the BBOG campaigners, who are campaigning for the rescue of the missing Chibok girls, were merely expressing their democratic rights rather than constituting public nuisance.

Procession To See President Buhari

Soyinka’s disapproval comes after security operatives prevented a peaceful procession of the BBOG campaigners from reaching the Presidential Villa.

The procession, on its way to see President Muhammadu Buhari, to demand an update on the abducted Chibok girls, was stopped at the Independence Avenue by security operatives, who were “acting under strict orders”.

Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, said that the march was a fallout of the government’s failure to take action on the video of Chibok girls released by their abductors on August 14.

The Co-Convener of the Group, Aisha Yesufu, urged the Federal Government to seek help from the international community to rescue of the girls.

A rival group, ‘With Buhari We Stand’, had also challenged the BBOG group, asking them to “leave President Buhari to work for Nigerians”.

The group was already positioned at the Three Arms Zone when the BBOG members arrived.

Soyinka Asks Buhari To Fast-track Action On Niger Delta

Soyinka on Niger Delta RegionNobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has asked the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to be more proactive in dealing with the problems of the Niger Delta region.

Professor Soyinka, at a press conference in Lagos believes that the government is not doing enough in handling “the tension in the Niger Delta region”.

The Nobel laureate said he was asking the Federal Government, like other key players in Nigeria and the region, to change its government’s style and move swiftly to deal with the issues of the Niger Delta.

He is advocating a more proactive intervention by the President and his government to douse the tension.

Agreed A Ceasefire

His comment is coming at a period militancy resurgence in the Niger Delta region, with the militants resorting to bombing oil installations.

Their activities have reduced Nigeria’s oil output by 700,000 barrels per day to 1.56 million bpd.

It is a huge loss of revenue, amounting to billions of Dollars, for the nation that relies solely on crude oil sales.

The major militant group in the region that calls itself the Niger Delta Avengers last week said it has agreed a ceasefire and that it is open for negotiation with the government.

On the Education Sector, Professor Soyinka condemned the removal of History as a subject in the nation’s school curriculum saying, the decision is responsible for what he calls, the low quality of the nation’s learning.

Insurgents Are Sub-human

He also condemned the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists in the northeast of Nigeria.

Professor Soyinka said Boko Haram insurgency was a result of religious lunacy and believed aggression should be met with reasonable force.

He also believes the activities of insurgents are sub-human and must be treated as one.

The Nobel laureate told reporters terrorists have no business taking innocent lives and that he stands to request that such barbaric people must be wiped out.

Professor Soyinka, who was at the Presidential Villa few days ago, further told reporters that he was there to discuss issues about his interactions in the House of Commons with the President.

After that meeting with the President, he promised reporters that he would hold a press conference and speak on national issues.

Buhari, Soyinka Discuss National Matters

Wole-SoyinkaNobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on Thursday held a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Professor Soyinka arrived at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital at about 11:00am local time and went straight to the President’s office.

Addressing reporters after the meeting, he said he had come to see the President on some national, international and general matters.

When asked further questions, he promised to hold a press conference in few days.

“Right now, please, I will like to get away,” he told reporters when they asked further questions.


The literary icon had last month voiced his support for President Buhari’s fight against corruption, with a call for the imprisonment of corrupt politicians to serve as deterrent to others.

Professor Soyinka made the call while addressing reporters after the presentation of certificates and trophies to winners of the 7th edition of Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange Programme, held in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

He stated that the war against corruption should be more inclusive and that all other professionals should be part of the battle.

Soyinka Condemns ‘Senseless’ Attacks On Oil Facilities In Niger Delta

Wole Soyinka, Niger Delta, OilNobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has described as ‘senseless’, the attacks on Nigeria’s oil facilities by the Niger Delta Avengers.

This comes as the Federal Government considers dialogue in order to end the violence on oil installations in the oil rich Niger Delta region.

At the side line of an event in Lagos State, Professor Soyinka told Channels Television that unlike the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), he was yet to find out what exactly the militants actually wanted.

He noted that the only thing he had seen was the unjust destruction of the nation’s oil facilities.

The Niger Delta Avengers have claimed responsibility for recent attacks on infrastructure in the oil rich region, crippling oil production and rendering the energy sector paralytic.Niger Delta, US, Nigeria

The latest attack carried out by the group was the attack on a crude oil pipeline belonging to Chevron Nigeria Limited in the early hours of Wednesday, June 8.

The group said on its Twitter feed that it blew up Well RMP 20, belonging to Chevron, located 20 meters away from Dibi flow station in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State.

The group also tweeted that it has rejected an offer to start talks with the government to end a series of attacks on oil facilities.

“At 1:00am today, the @NDAvengers blow up Well RMP 20 belonging to Chevron located 20 meters away from Dibi flow Stattion in Warri North LGA.

“This is to the general public we’re not negotiating with any Committee. if Fed Govt is discussing wth any group they’re doing that on their own”, the tweets said.

 

Nigerian Govt. Has Inherited A Heavy Baggage – Wole Soyinka

SoyinkaNobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka believes the Nigerian government inherited a burden that may take a while to lessen but it must sustain efforts at improving the economy.

This comes as Nigeria assesses the Buhari administration after one year in office.

He was speaking to Channels Television in Johannesburg where he is expected to speak at a public lecture entitled Politics, Culture and the New Africa.

“This administration has inherited a heavy baggage. While I am critical in some aspects of the priority, I think that to clear up the mess left by previous administrations is going to take quite a while especially in the sector of economy.

“So I don’t use words like optimism or pessimism, I’m just pragmatic. I look at what there is on the ground and of course wherever I can intervene, I do both privately and publicly,” he said.

Kole OmotosoRenowned Nigerian author and playwright, Professor Kole Omotoso, also said that the current administration has ticked a number of little things but there must be more effort to alleviate the sufferings of the people.

“We are going in the right direction but in the process, we need to do so many things. We need to look at not just the suffering of the people but the way people seem to indulge in bearing suffering.

“It is as if even if you try to solve the problem for them they will prefer to be suffering and smiling,” Prof. Omotoso said.

Soyinka, Falana Demand Better Welfare For Nigerian Child

welfareThe Nigerian government has been asked to take more proactive steps to ensure the safety, education and improved welfare for the Nigerian child.

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), made the call on Sunday at a press conference in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

In his speech, Professor Soyinka condemned those who are weaving religion sentiment around child marriage.

“When you damage a child because of your own depravity, you ruin that child for life (and) traumatise that child. Whether you say you believe in any religion, you are committing a crime.

“We are against crimes committed (that are) defined by the constitution (and) the legal structure that binds us all together,” he said.Soyinka

Professor Soyinka also asked the Police to take charge in securing the safety of all citizens, saying that they are the first call in curbing crime.

“They should be the first call when the child goes missing and they cannot abandon the job until they have restored the child to the rightful parent,” he said.

Playing on the Intelligence of Nigerians

Mr Falana on his part, was displeased with child marriage, stressing that it was illegal to marry a girl without the approval of the parent.

“The law says under 18, it is illegal to marry out anybody and in this case, whether in the north or in the south, you cannot marry out a girl without the approval of the parent” he said.

Femi-FalanaThe Senior Advocate noted that those referring to religion are playing on the intelligence of Nigerians, adding that it was the responsibility of the government to cater for every underage child found hawking on the streets.

“Under the Child’s Right Act, every child must be put in school at the expense of the state and that applies to Lagos or any of the states in the south where we have children on the streets who are hawking all manners of goods,” he said.

Mr Falana attributed the street hawking to the high rate of abuses on the child such as kidnap and rape, calling on the citizens to retrieve all underage children that have been forced into illegal marriages.

Soyinka Seeks Emergency Economic Summit To Save Nigeria’s Economy

SoyinkaNobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has asked the Federal Government of Nigeria to convene an emergency economic conference to save the nation from its current economic troubles.

Professor Soyinka made the call on Thursday when he visited the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

“The economic condition of the nation of the people does not deteriorate overnight, something came before that deterioration. A certain prolonged and unchecked process of attrition which was neglected in the past is now knocking on the door,” he said.

Nobel laureate observed that Nigeria’s current economic challenge was the product of bad leadership over the years, stressing the need for an emergency economic conference where experts would brainstorm on the solutions.

“The consequences of past misgovernance in other words, is what we are undergoing right now, but at the same time, we must rely on our objective economic exploits to tell the government when it is going wrong. When it is taking certain measures which might just compound the problem and in the end make the people the ultimate victims.

“I agree with those who say the economy is bad (it is obvious) and I think that the President should call an emergency economic conference in which experts will be invited (such as) consumers, producers, labour union, university experts, professors and others. I think we need a rescue operation, bringing as many heads together and plotting the way forward,” he said.

Professor Soyinka also asked Nigerians to be patient with the current anti-corruption crusade of President Muhamadu Buhari.