BUKAVU: Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege was operating on Friday when he learned he had won the Nobel Peace Prize, as crowds at his Panzi hospital erupted into ecstatic celebrations.
In a video posted on the Facebook page of the hospital he founded in eastern DR Congo in 1999, co-workers and admirers can be seen swarming around the 63-year-old doctor after he emerged from the operating theatre, cheering, ululating wildly and hugging him as he slowly made his way past them.
“I was in the operating room so when they started to make noise around (it) I wasn’t really thinking about what was going on and suddenly some people came in and told me the news,” Mukwege told Norwegian daily VG.
In an interview with the Nobel Foundation, he said he was just finishing his second operation of the day.
“It was so touching when I was operating and I heard people start to cry and it was so, so, so touching.”
Mukwege is nicknamed “Doctor Miracle” for his surgical skill and dedication in helping women overcome the injuries and trauma of sexual abuse and rape.
“I can see in the face of many women how they are happy to be recognised and this is really so touching,” he told the foundation.
Mukwege shared the Nobel with Yazidi campaigner Nadia Murad for their “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict,” Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said in unveiling the winners in Oslo.
The prize was the first Nobel ever awarded to a Congolese, sparking joy and pride in the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa, plagued by more than two decades of bloodshed and brutality involving militias, rebel groups and government forces.
“I can say it: I am proud to be Congolese,” tweeted opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi.