15/10/2019 Opinion

Santiago J. Castellà, Professor of Law and International Relations of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Africa has come knocking on your door

Ethiopia’s young prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, is the new and, as from now, eternal winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2019, for his leading role in the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Ethiopia’s young prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali

It may be mistaken to think that the Nobel Peace Prize is the most influential of all prizes – other professional groups probably think the same of their prize – but surely we must agree that it is curious and illustrative, to say the least, to construct a version of contemporary history from the perspective provided by the Nobel peace prizes. The fact is that every year Oslo decides to highlight one particular global issue. I do not know whether the British bookmakers – a clear statistical indicator of the global state of mind (and humour) – were giving odds on what it would be, but in 2018 it was quite rightly feminism. The prize was awarded to the Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and the Yazidi Nadia Murad for their efforts to bring an end to sexual violence. So, in 2019, everything seemed to suggest that it would be the turn of sustainability. This year was ripe for climate change and it bore the name of the up-and-coming generations with Greta Thunberg at the forefront and her media crusade against climate change, which is affecting us all.

We were in for a surprise: Africa came knocking. Ethiopia’s young prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, is the new and, as from now, eternal winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2019, for his leading role in the peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. After the independence of Eritrea in 1993 and the first armed conflicts, the underlying tension suggested that at any moment there would be another humanitarian crisis. But in contrast to the constant, wretched forecasts of failures and impossible tasks in Africa, we have learned that curses can be broken and that the stories of history do not always have unhappy endings.

And we have also found out that something is happening in Africa. Stealthily, Africa has come knocking on the world’s door and it has a great deal to contribute. When it is time for us to rethink our relationship with the planet and with ourselves, the call of Africa, which is being born again from its post-colonial ashes, will remind us that we are the authors of the history that has yet to be written. So let us welcome this Nobel Prize and welcome Africa and Peace.


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