SAINT Lucia’s 27th Nobel Laureate Festival, formally Nobel Laureate Week, has officially been launched. The festival itself is testament to the continued growth of the week-long observation into a full-scale celebration. Nobel Laureate Week began in 1993 and has taken place each year since. It is a celebration of Saint Lucia’s Nobel Laureates; namely, Sir William Arthur Lewis who won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1979, and Sir Derek Alton Walcott, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992.
The achievements of both Nobel Laureates have been momentous. Sir Arthur Lewis, who was one of the most significant contributors of Development Economics, was the first Economic Advisor to Ghana after the country gained independence in 1957. He was also the Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and the first president of the Caribbean Development Bank. In honour of the memory of the Late Sir Arthur Lewis, the Sir Arthur Lewis Award was launched back in 2005 to fund the full-time tuition of OECS nationals who had gained admission to the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill Campus in Barbados. Sir Arthur Lewis also wrote a number of books which include ‘The Theory of Economic Growth’, ‘Racial Conflict and Economic Development’ and ‘The Principles of Economic Planning’.
The literary works of Sir Derek Walcott have received massive praise from poets and scholars the world over. His works have received tremendous recognition from institutions such as the University of Essex, the University of the West Indies, Boston University, and the University of London to name a few. Walcott has, through his illustrious life, received many awards and honours including the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and the W.H. Smith Literary Award. Walcott has produced at least 62 literary works including poetry collections, plays and other books. ‘Omeros’ and ‘O Starry Starry Night’ are among his most popular productions.
The 1992 document from the Swedish Academy, announcing the decision to award the Nobel Prize in Literature to Derek Walcott, stated, “In him (Walcott) West Indian culture has found its great poet.” The document goes on to describe Walcott’s ‘Omeros’ as “A majestic Caribbean epos.” It further stated, “This is a work of incomparable ambitiousness, in which Walcott weaves his many strands into a whole. Its weft is a rich one, deriving from the poet’s wide-ranging contacts with literature, history and reality.”
Saint Lucia’s annual Nobel Laureate Festival is a celebration of the total achievements of these two Nobel Laureates and the positive impact that their work continues to make on the nation and the world at large.