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Abdulrazak Gurnah wins the 2021 Nobel prize in literature

Nobel prize

Abdulrazak Gurnah wins the 2021 Nobel prize in literature

The Nobel prize in literature has been awarded to the novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”.

Gurnah grew up on one of the islands of Zanzibar before fleeing persecution and arriving in England as a student in the 1960s. He has published 10 novels as well as a number of short stories. Anders Olsson, chair of the Nobel committee, said that the Gurnah’s novels – from his debut Memory of Departure, about a failed uprising, to his most recent, Afterlives – “recoil from stereotypical descriptions and open our gaze to a culturally diversified East Africa unfamiliar to many in other parts of the world”.

No black African writer has won the prize since Wole Soyinka in 1986. Gurnah is the first black writer to win since Toni Morrison in 1993.

Gurnah’s fourth novel, Paradise, was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1994, and his sixth, By the Sea, was longlisted in 2001. Olsson said that Paradise “has obvious reference to Joseph Conrad in its portrayal of the innocent young hero Yusuf’s journey to the heart of darkness”.

“[Gurnah] has consistently and with great compassion penetrated the effects of colonialism in East Africa, and its effects on the lives of uprooted and migrating individuals,” Olsson told journalists in Stockholm.

Gurnah, who was in the kitchen when he was informed of his win, said that he believed it was a wind-up.

“I thought it was a prank,” he said. “These things are usually floated for weeks beforehand, or sometimes months beforehand, about who are the runners, so it was not something that was in my mind at all. I was just thinking, I wonder who’ll get it?”

“I am honoured to be awarded this prize and to join the writers who have preceded me on this list. It is overwhelming and I am so proud.”

His longtime editor, Alexandra Pringle at Bloomsbury, said Gurnah’s win was “most deserved” for a writer who has not previously received due recognition.

“He is one of the greatest living African writers, and no one has ever taken any notice of him and it’s just killed me. I did a podcast last week and in it I said that he was one of the people that has been just ignored. And now this has happened,” she said.

Pringle said Gurnah had always written about displacement, “but in the most beautiful and haunting ways of what it is that uproots people and blows them across continents”.

“It’s not always asylum seeking, it can be so many reasons, it can be trade, it can be commerce, it can be education, it can be love,” she said. “The first of his novels I took on at Bloomsbury is called By the Sea, and there’s this haunting image of a man at Heathrow airport with a carved incense box, and that’s all he has. He arrives, and he says one word, and that’s ‘asylum’.”

Pringle said Gurnah is as important a writer as Chinua Achebe. “His writing is particularly beautiful and grave and also humorous and kind and sensitive. He’s an extraordinary writer writing about really important things.”

Afterlives, published last year, tells the story of Ilyas, who was stolen from his parents by German colonial troops as a boy and returns to his village after years fighting in a war against his own people. It was described in the Guardian as “a compelling novel, one that gathers close all those who were meant to be forgotten, and refuses their erasure”.

“In Gurnah’s literary universe, everything is shifting – memories, names, identities. This is probably because his project cannot reach completion in any definitive sense,” said Olsson. “An unending exploration driven by intellectual passion is present in all his books, and equally prominent now, in Afterlives, as when he began writing as a 21-year-old refugee.”

Maya Jaggi, critic and 2021 Costa Prize judge said: “Gurnah, whom I first interviewed for the Guardian in 1994, is a powerful and nuanced writer whose elliptical lyricism counters the silences and lies of imperial history imposed when he was a child in east Africa. His subtle oeuvre is as robust about the brutal flaws of the mercantile culture he left as the atrocities of British and German colonialism, not least during the first world war, and the ‘random acts of terror’ he experienced as a black person in Britain – converting them into a comic triumph in his 1988 novel Pilgrims Way.”

Gurnah was born in 1948, growing up in Zanzibar. When Zanzibar went through a revolution in 1964, citizens of Arab origin were persecuted, and Gurnah was forced to flee the country when he was 18. He began to write as a 21-year-old refugee in England, choosing to write in English, although Swahili is his first language. His first novel, Memory of Departure, was published in 1987. He has until recently been professor of English and postcolonial literatures at the University of Kent, until his retirement.

Worth 10m Swedish krona (£840,000), the Nobel prize for literature goes to the writer deemed to be, in the words of Alfred Nobel’s will, “the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”. Winners have ranged from Bob Dylan, cited for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, to Kazuo Ishiguro “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.According to Ellen Mattson, who sits on the Swedish Academy and the Nobel committee: “Literary merit. That’s the only thing that counts.”

The Nobel winner is chosen by the 18 members of the Swedish Academy – an august and mysterious organisation that has made efforts to become more transparent after it was hit by a sexual abuse and financial misconduct scandal in 2017. Last year’s prize went to the American poet Louise Glück – an uncontroversial choice after the uproar provoked by the Austrian writer Peter Handke’s win in 2019. Handke had denied the Srebrenica genocide and attended the funeral of war criminal Slobodan Milošević.

The Nobel prize for literature has been awarded 118 times. Just 16 of the awards have gone to women, seven of those in the 21st century. In 2019, the Swedish academy promised the award would become less “male-oriented” and “Eurocentric”, but proceeded to give its next two prizes to two Europeans, Handke and Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk.

Education

NECO says no extension of 2024 SSCE internal registration

The National Examinations Council, NECO, has clarified that it has not extended the registration deadline for its 2024 Senior School Certificate Examination, SSCE, Internal Registration.

Azeez Sani, the acting Director of the Directorate of Information and Digital Communication at NECO, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.

He noted, “The Registration, which started on Monday, December 18th 2023, will close on Monday, June 3rd 2024”.

He said late registration, which attracts the late registration fee, is between Tuesday, June 4th, 2024, and Monday, June 10th, 2024.

“The Council enjoins Candidates, School Principals, Commandants, State Ministries of Education, and other Stakeholders to disregard Social Media posts purporting that the registration period has been extended to Monday, June 20th, 2024.

“The 2024 SSCE Internal will commence on June 19th, 2024 and end on July 26th 2024.

“Candidates will be assessed in 76 subjects during the examination”, the statement read.

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Education

Abducted Confluence University students rescued- Kogi govt

The students of the Confluence University of Science and Technology, Osara, Kogi State, who were abducted by unknown gunmen on Thursday, have been rescued by the security agents, including gallant vigilant men.

The students were kidnapped while on campus preparing for their first semester exams, scheduled to start on Monday.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kingsley Fanwo, in a statement made available to newsmen in Lokoja, on Sunday, confirmed that the students were rescued hours after Governor Ododo visited the campus and promised to rescue the students unhurt.

He commended the gallantry efforts of all the security agents who went all out to rescue the students from their abductors, saying the unknown gunmen were confronted with superior power that made them abandon their victims.

He also disclosed that the rescued students and many other kidnapped victims have been taken to a medical facility for proper attention.

Fanwo said that security agents are currently combing the forests to ensure all the students still in captivity are found and brought home safely.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner stated that in the sporadic gun battle to rescue the students, a local hunter and a DSS operative sustained injuries but they are currently receiving medical attention.

“We commend our local hunters and all the conventional security agents for their bravery and gallantry. Of special commendation is the DSS for acting on credible intelligence to coordinate a fearless confrontation on the outlaws.

“The security agencies have once again demonstrated why Kogi State will remain an uncomfortable place for bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements.

“The success recorded so far is a clear testament of the readiness of Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo to ensure adequate and uncompromising security for the people of Kogi State.

“We urge residents to report anyone with gun wounds found in their communities to law enforcement agents,” the statement read in part

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Education

Ekiti ‘Varsity students caught on camera bullying classmate expelled

The management of Bamidele Olumilua University of Education, Science and Technology, Ikere-Ekiti (BOUESTI) has expelled two of its students filmed assaulting a female colleague.

A video that made the rounds on social media today May 7, showed one Miss Opemiposi Precious Bolaji, an 18-year-old 100L Mass Communication student beating her colleague identified as Miss Gloria Ajayi, a 100L Mass Communication student, in a private hostel outside the University campus.

Reacting to the incident, the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Temitope Akinbisoye, said the students caught in the video were summoned on Monday, May 6 and were meted the appropriate punishment for their actions.

”In accordance with our institution’s policies and extant regulations, the students who were captured in the viral video appeared before the Students’ Disciplinary Committee at its emergency meeting held on Monday, May 6, 2024, for interrogations and appropriate recommendations, the report of which has been submitted to the University authorities.

The University authorities condemn in strong terms, any form of violence or misconduct in our University or by any of our constituents. Such behaviour is entirely inconsistent with the values we uphold and the standards of respect and dignity that we expect from all members of our University.

Miss Opemiposi Precious BOLAJI with Matriculation No. 10232, a 100L Mass Communication student who was beating her colleague with a stick and threatening to inflict bodily harm on her for allegedly destroying her 3-year old love affair with her boyfriend was found guilty of misconduct and flagrant breach of her matriculation oath and consequently EXPELLED with immediate effect.

Miss Genesis OSARO, a 100L Mass Communication student with Matriculation No. 10257, who provided the stick with which Gloria AJAYI was beaten, was found guilty of misconduct (as an accomplice) and flagrant breach of her Matriculation oath and consequently EXPELLED with immediate effect.

Miss Gloria AJAYI, a 100L Mass Communication student with Matriculation No. 10295, who was seen being beaten in the viral video but did not retaliate or engage in fisticuffs with her tormentors, was EXONERATED.

The duo of Miss Mistura Eniola ADEJUWON with Matriculation No. 10435 and Miss Precious Oluwapelumi OLANREWAJU with Matriculation No. 11126, who gleefully recorded the video and posted on social media were WARNED and advised to always report such incident to the Directorate of Students’ Affairs and the Security Unit of the University rather than escalating it on social media.

Mr. Olawale AJEWOLE, a 200L Mass Communication student with Matriculation No. 6021 was EXONERATED for making efforts to lock Miss Gloria AJAYI inside a room to prevent further beating.”

The University authorities also said it would want to” encourage anyone who witnesses or experiences any form of harassment, abuse or violence against any student to report it immediately to the appropriate authorities.”

”Moving forward, we will continue to prioritize the well-being and safety of our University community. We will also reinforce our efforts to educate and promote respectful and responsible behaviour among our students.” the statement read in part

Meanwhile the Ekiti state police command has commenced a discreet investigation into the incident. A statement by the Ekiti State Command Police Public Relations Office, DSP Abutu Sunday, Anipr said the state Commissioner, CP Akinwale Adeniran, has already directed the Ikere Area Commander to liaise with the Management of the Institution and ensure the perpetrator is identified, investigated and made to face the legal consequence(s) of her barbaric action

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