“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf

I read and enjoyed learning some history from This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President.  The book is Liberian's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's autobiography of her life before and after her election in 2006. I had no idea that former slaves from the United States had settled and influenced the politics of Liberia.  I was thankful that she did not devote a lot of the book to what she saw in the aftermath of the horrors in Rwanda.  Sometimes I think it would be easier to languished in myth and ignorance.

Sirleaf is descended from native Liberians and her grandfather was a German immigrant. She was educated at an excellent school in Liberia but married right after high school at the age of seventeen, immediately had four children, and unfortunately found herself in an abusive relationship with a jealous husband. Frustrated and wanting something more for herself and her children she was able to get a scholarship to go to school in Wisconsin. While at school she worked as a cleaner at a diner. I wonder how her co-workers feel about working with the president of Liberia.

Sirleaf earned her Masters at Harvard, worked at the World Bank, the United Nations and Citibank. 
She also worked in Finance in the Liberian government and at Equator Bank. She was imprisoned
twice for her outspokenness about the corruption and lack of intelligent thought in her government
of Liberia.

According to the book, Sirleaf ran for the presidency of Liberia promising to fight government  corruption and end the violent factions that destroyed the hope and infrastructure of her people and country. Sirleaf promised to serve only one term as president and turn the government peacefully over to another administration, but recently she has decided to stay in office because she has not accomplished all of her goals. One of the problems with Liberia is the prevalence of dictatorships.

So...  I am hoping for the best.  She would not do that.

Cover of "This Child Will Be Great: Memoi...

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