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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid