News / Africa

Liberian Nobel Peace Laureate Ready to Undertake National Reconciliation

Leymah Gbowee says she recognizes the task of national reconciliation would be a tall order, but she says there's no prescription to reconciliation

Liberian Nobel Peace Laureate Ready to Undertake National Reconciliation
Liberian Nobel Peace Laureate Ready to Undertake National Reconciliation

Multimedia

Audio
James Butty

The woman selected by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to help bring about peace and reconciliation in Liberia says she’s prepared for the task.

Leymah Gbowee, co-winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, says Liberia’s inability over the years to approach the issue of reconciliation directly has been adding layer upon layer of irreconcilable issues to the national agenda.

President Sirleaf asked Gbowee to head the National Peace and Reconciliation Initiative following the November 7 pre-election violence between police and supporters of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change.

Gbowee said she intends to solicit the views of all Liberians.

“When I won the Nobel Peace Prize, I said I wanted to use the prize, specifically in Liberia, to promote peace and reconciliation because I was quite aware of the challenges that we as a nation face when it comes to reconciling our differences,” she said.

Gbowee says she recognizes that the task of reconciling national differences would be a tall order.  But, she says there is no special course or prescription for success.

She said she has been in touch with Liberians across the spectrum, as well as retired Anglican South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  After the fall of apartheid, Tutu headed the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“Reconciliation is a personal, internal, collective journey that people must decide they are going to take, and I think Liberians are at that place where they want to move forward.  Having said that, I’ve been in touch with Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s office because I see the “Arch” as one of those individuals who have all of the experiences when it comes to talking about reconciliation,” she said.

Gbowee says all issues that have divided Liberians over the years – from the country’s 1985 presidential election to the civil war, and now the 2011 presidential election – will form part of her reconciliation agenda.

“The one thing that we are seeing happening is that our inability to approach the whole issue of reconciliation head on has been adding more train to that gown.  So, we have one package – the issues of the war that haven’t been addressed and the issues of elections over the past few years.  Some of the other issues are disempowerment, the huge population of young people who cannot find jobs,” Gbowee said.

During Liberia’s civil war, Gbowee brought together several dozen Christian and Muslim women who rose up together to help put an end to the country’s civil war.

Gbowee says she will be calling not only on the women but every segment of society to join her for peace and reconciliation.

She says she will launch the Liberia peace and reconciliation initiative on November 29, the traditional end of the raining season and the beginning of the dry season in Liberia by holding a cultural peace jamboree called “The One Liberia Reconciliation Festival.”

“For me, using that particular day as the day to begin the whole process of reconciliation is that the rains of the war, the rains of the divisiveness, the rains of the insults that we saw over the last years or few months of politics of Liberia, in my opinion, are passing and we should all ask Liberians to look forward to the sun of peace,” Gbowee said.

Some Liberians have already begun to suggest that Gbowee cannot be an impartial reconciler because she is too close to President Sirleaf.

Gbowee says, as an African feminist who has advocated for the inclusion of women in politics, she has supported all Liberian women irrespective of their political affiliations.

“I voted across the line for women.  If that is going to cloud the level of work that I am supposed to do to reconcile Liberia, then the first step for me is to say, ‘I’m sorry.’  And, if we have a huge segment of society who believe that I’m not going to be a reconciler, let them speak out now because I cannot initiate a process of reconciliation in Liberia without the participation of every one,” Gbowee said.

The 39-year-old Gbowee would not rule out whether she intends to run for political office.

“I’ve always maintained that I am a politician by nature.  On which level I will intend to engage in the politics of Liberia, I’m still thinking.  Remember, I’m just 39, and I have a whole decade or two ahead of me to step onto the political stage.  So, yes, I may decide I want to go into parliament, but, for now, the task of reconciling Liberia first and the task of continuously working for the empowerment of women and the young people of that country is what I love doing; it’s what keeps my adrenaline pumping,” Gbowee said.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid