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

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid