I was in Liberia before the first civil war broke out. It was a corrupt oligarchy, where the American-Liberians ran the place, and locals had little power or money.
I left/was thrown out just before the first civil war started there. (visa problems, and it was easier to return to the US and get a new visa than try to bribe folks to update it there). Two days later, they started an uprising, killed the president, and were shooting looters in front of the Hilton, where I used to disco dance. So I stayed safe at home, and wasn't there several months later when the US Marines had to evacuate all US citizens in August.
There was a terrible civil war, followed by "peace" when Charles Taylor "won" the election. This was followed by a second civil war, which is where the women played an active role in establishing peace.
Film: Pray the Devil Back to Hell.
A group of ordinary women in Liberia, led by Leymah Gbowee, came together to pray for peace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war.
Under Leymah Gbowee's leadership, the women managed to force a meeting with President Charles Taylor and extract a promise from him to attend peace talks in Ghana. Gbowee then led a delegation of Liberian women to Ghana to continue to apply pressure on the warring factions during the peace process. They staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace, Accra, bringing about an agreement during the stalled peace talks.
Asatu Bah Kenneth is featured in the film. She is currently Assistant Minister for Administration and Public Safety of the Liberian Ministry of Justice. At the time, she was president of the Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association, and inspired by the work of the Christian women's peace initiative, she formed the Liberian Muslim Women's Organization to work for peace.
Working together, over 3,000 Christian and Muslim women mobilized their efforts, and as a result, the women were able to achieve peace in Liberia after a 14-year civil war and helped bring to power the country's first female head of state.
of course, it was a bit more complicated than that. God got a little help from the US Marines:
On August 14, Rebels lifted their siege of Liberia's capital and 200 American troops landed to support a West African peace force. Thousands of people danced and sang as American Marines and ECOMIL, the Nigerian-led West African troops, took over the port and bridges which had split the capital into government and rebel-held zones.
more information HERE. The US troops were the pathfinders, helping with logistics to stablize the country with the help of African peacekeepers.
So Blame Bush for ending the war, because without the Marines and US logistics and support, the local peacekeepers would not have succeeded.
The real role of the women was that they established the infrastructure for a civilian resumption of the government. But that job is a lot harder and messier than the summaries suggest.
So the women do deserve their peace prize.
Whether or not it will help Mrs. Johnson to win reelection however is another story. More on her HERE and HERE.
she is running against a Tubman, which means a grandson of a previous AmeriLiberian president.
She herself is both, since both her indigneous father and mother were adopted and raised by AmeriLiberian family she is would have links with both the patricians and the hoipolloi....and she worked for the Tolbert government (the AmeriLiberian one that was thrown out by Sargent Doe). After that, she worked a lot for think tanks. So she has ties with the elites of the world.
AlJezeerah's report here.
a lot of this sounds like the Philippines, where the elites and clan leaders run the place, but we can chose between the clan leaders.
"A win for Johnson-Sirleaf will come as no surprise," he says. "It would be a win for the West, a win for many Liberians and a win for the international investor community. Only time will tell if it turns out to be a win for the poor, the disillusioned and the hungry."
Gberie suggests that it is ultimately these distinct economic and ethnic fault lines that will dictate the course of the election. "The key issue in Liberia, I think, is the gap between Monrovia and the rest of the country. Educated Liberians tend to play this down, but most educated Liberians don't make an effort to understand rural Liberia - the anxieties, hardships, struggles of the rural poor," he says. "Even so-called natives who grew up in Monrovia and are educated hardly speak the native languages. It is the only country in West Africa where you find this kind of thing. [It is] rather bewildering and this cannot help [with closing] the gap between Monrovia and rural Liberia."
Despite the drawbacks of poor institutions, rampant corruption and divisions along social and ethnic lines, upon being elected six years ago, Johnson-Sirleaf invited rival political parties and civil society into her cabinet and pushed for social cohesion. She has been credited with diversifying her cabinet and appointing women to key ministerial positions, including finance, foreign affairs and commerce and industry, as well as ambassadors to postings like Germany, South Africa and Scandinavia.
Moreover, she is seen to have advanced greater transparency and freedom of speech, while reducing political persecution and, through the support of the US, arranging the cancellation of billions of dollars of foreign debt.
Ajiyi says that even her critics have lauded her attempts to establish stability, whether through infrastructural development or regular salaries.
"She seems to have laid the foundations of governance to build on. Liberia needs foreign direct investment from the rich West, and if they, the rich West have already expressed that they would rather do business with Johnson-Sirleaf then technically, in a strange but real way, it is in Liberia's interest that she wins," Ayo Johnson says.