October 09, 2008

Le Clezio Wins 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature

Le Clezio1.jpg  I'm surprised (may be not too surprised) and delighted to hear that the French author Jean-Marie Gustave Le-Clezio is the winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for literature.

My long essay which earned me a Bachelor of Arts degree (First Class) in French Literature from the University of Port Harcourt in 1992 was a study in race relations in Le-Clezio's 1991 novel Onitsha. The late world-renowned professor of Comparative Literature, Willfried F. Feuser, supervised my work.  

J-M.G Le-Clezio tells a semi-autobiographical story in which a 12- year- old British-Italian boy and his mother travel by sea from France to meet the boy's father in Onitsha, Nigeria.  Fintan enjoys his visit to Africa where befriends Bony, a Nigerian boy who opens his eyes to new ways of seeing the world.  Fintan's mother finds out that her lover had changed after their long separation.  She has to confront the injustices of colonialism adapt to a foreign culture.  Fintan's father worked for the United Africa Company but he becomes interested in the myths and origins of the Igbo people among whom he lives.  Much of the novel describes Fintan's father's journeys in the dream world where he receives insights about the migration of the Igbo people from Egypt to Southeastern Nigeria where they now live.

J-M. G Le-Clezio's Onitsha opened my eyes to the possibilities of multi-cultural friendships, the reality of color-blind justice as well as the evocative power of language.

Congratulations, J-M.G Le-Clezio for this well-deserved honor!