I doubt many are surprised that Leymah Gbowee has won the Nobel Peace Prize. The same cannot be said of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Accusations range from corruption to mismanagement – nothing new for political leaders. What stands out for me is Johnson Sirleaf remains the only African leader to agree to hosting the US High Command in Africa – AFRICOM. This is not really surprising given Liberia’s historic connection with the US [Leymah speaks of this unpleasant relationship in her Google interview] Nonetheless the two women are connected – Leymah Gbowee and the women of Liberia were influential in Johnson Sirleaf becoming the first woman president in Africa.
Johnson Sirleaf and Gbowee represent the resilience of Liberian women, of African women, of women the world over who thirst for an end to militarism, gender-based violence, death, destruction, war, and missile strikes in the name of “liberation”.
How can this be when Johnson Sirleaf offers to host AFRICOM and the support the militarisation of the continent?
Liberian Robtel Pailey, who up until recently worked at the ” Executive Mansion” under President Johnson Sirleaf, examines their similarities.
Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and peace activist Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, became the second and third African women to be awarded the Nobel peace prize on 7 October.
Gbowee and Johnson Sirleaf have forever transformed the image of Liberia, from a pariah nation of warlords and gun-slinging, drug-induced prepubescent boys, to a country clawing its way back to civility and normality.
Their journeys to this prestigious award, announced just four days ahead of Liberia’s high-stakes presidential and legislative elections — elections that will determine the country’s development trajectory and democratic consolidation — signify Liberia’s journey to consciousness.
As someone who most recently worked in the Liberian Executive Mansion under Johnson Sirleaf’s tutelage for four years, I know that she and Gbowee, whom I interviewed earlier in the year, represent the ethos of our nation.