The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, is Africa’s youngest head of government and has only been in power since April 2018. Accolades are pouring in from across the globe, and his selection is seen as a boost for reformist leaders across the African continent.
Conversely, critics contend that the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s selection was premature, given Abiy’s short track-record in governance. There are also those who have said it is not fair to reward an individual for processes that hinge on the efforts of a community. This timely debate made for an engaging discussion at Ghana’s International Relations Masterclass held on Nov. 7.
Led by visiting faculty and former South African diplomat, Dr. Yolanda Spies, the class examined the historical and current debate around the Nobel Peace Prize and its role in the politics of peace. Together with Dr. Felix Danso, Webster Ghana lecturer and faculty member at the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Center, the two academics reflected on the implications that this year's award might have for peace across Africa.
Spies took the audience through the history of the prize and the importance of education, stressing the fact that Ali being an intellectual with a background in Peace studies, coupled with his youthful charisma, is what has helped him drive his agenda. She also looked at other African leaders who have received the award or have made great strides towards peace in their home nations, including Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Wangari Maathia of Kenya and Ghana’s own Kofi Annan.
Ethiopian Ambassador to Ghana, Kefale Regassa Ere, accepted an invitation to attend the event and had the opportunity to address the attendees, ranging from students to faculty to international relations enthusiasts from across Accra. Whilst there, he expressed his great pride in Ali’s global recognition and how it is encouraging to the youth to push for positive change in society.
In response to the academic presentations, Ere mentioned that Ali spearheaded deliberate policies geared towards dousing ethnic and political tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea. He also stressed the influence of the prime minister in helping to stabilize the geopolitical climate within the eastern African bloc. The Ambassador answered questions during the lively Q&A session that followed.
The event concluded with a celebratory cake cutting ceremony to honor the collective win for the continent, in one of Africa’s own being bestowed with the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.