CITY GIRL: It is time Africa gets its own version of Nobel Prize
For the umpteenth time, Ngugi wa Thiongo did not win the Nobel Prize in Literature. I don’t know about the rest of you Kenyans, but I am tired of holding my breath October after excruciating October only to be disappointed as the Nobel Prize goes to yet another “undeserving” white folk.
I am not here to purport what is already common knowledge; that Ngugi is by far the most deserving African writer for the Nobel Prize in literature.
Today I am here to talk about the real reason why Ngugi has not and will probably never be awarded the Nobel Peace in Literature.
Let me start by saying that the last time a black man – and I mean a dark-skinned, coarse-haired African man with authentic African blood rushing through his Savannah-toughened veins – won was in 1986. His name, Prof Wole Soyinka.
That was 30 years ago. Thirty years ago I was just a figment of God’s imagination. I was not even a plan in my parents’ minds. Which means, for as long as I have been alive (I am 26-years-old), no black man has ever won a Nobel Prize in literature.
For three decades, ladies and gentlemen, white people have never found a single black man on God’s green earth worthy of a Nobel Prize in Literature.
I will call it for what it truly is; this my dear friends, is blatant racism. Racial prejudice and unashamed intolerance of the African culture at its best. The Nobel Prize has become a tool for the white man to remind us Africans that our culture is not good enough. Not international enough. Not acceptable and, therefore, not worthy of the prize.
Ngugi stopped writing in English in 1977. He has since written his novels in the Gikuyu language. His books, of course have been translated into different languages, but the original language remains his mother tongue.
His reason for this unique decision was simple. He wanted to fulfill every writer’s duty to their audiences; to write in an accessible language anyone could understand.
Now, just because Ngugi won’t write his novels in English – the language of the colonial master – the Norwegian Nobel Committee feel that he is underserving of the Nobel Prize, never mind that in 1988 (around the time I was being conceived) an Egyptian writer, Naguib Mafouz, won the Nobel for his work written in Arabic.
What does a black man have to do to get the approval of the white folks? Does it mean, that for a black man to win the most coveted prize in the world that he must write in English, the language of the colonial master?
Does this mean that for an African to be considered globally successful that he must receive the anointing of a bunch of white folks seated in an air-conditioned boardroom?
Let us not sit here and pretend that what Ngugi is being taken through is unique to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Who doesn’t know that Africans are considered the bottom feeders, lowest of the low in the racial food chain and our cultures seen to be primitive and backward?
Every African student studying in a foreign land – say, America, will tell you of the subtle and sometimes blatant racism that they have to put up with from white folks who think that Africans are no better than primitive animals they see on National Geographic.
That African students have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously by their white professors who don’t believe that an African can construct a sentence in good English.
That African students have to stomach professors who look down upon them and act in disbelief when these brilliant learners present a well-written paper, in good English, complete with plausible arguments.
It is not a secret that this white supremacy has taken root even in our own countries, where we have white folks walking around confidently thinking they are the smartest people in the room.
Our minds are still operating under the hangovers of the colonial times so much so that we feel we need white folks to ‘save us’ because we have bought into the white supremacy nonsense.
It is time we realised we do not need white folks to reassure us and tell us how brilliant and intelligent we are to feel good about ourselves.
The first step is to come up with the African version of the Nobel Prize. Qualification number one; white folks not allowed.