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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Named 2005 African Person of the Year


Nigeria’s Daily Independent newspaper has chosen Liberia’s president-elect Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as its 2005 Person of the Year for Africa.

The paper calls her election a “historic feat.” The Daily Independent’s board of editors has also chosen Professor Charles Soludo, an economist, as Nigeria’s 2005 Man of the Year. He’s credited with helping bring about banking reform.

To learn more about the selections, English to Africa’s Joe De Capua spoke with the newspaper’s group news editor, Oguwike Nwachuku. From Lagos, he first explains why Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf is Africa’s Person of the Year.

“If you look at the African scenario, particularly the political space in Africa, you agree with me that it is a male dominated environment. That is one. Then for the woman to have entered into this race with a man…in the person of the celebrated football icon, and defeated him, George Weah, and at the end of the day emerged as the president of Liberia, I think it’s a very big feat. Not only for the women folk, but for Africa,” he says. The newspaper says Ellen Johnson Sirleaf “suffers the burden thrust upon her by the ruins of war, making her a symbol of an epoch.”

As for Professor Soludo, he was honored for helping rid Nigeria of a “mish-mash of the great and not so great” banks, helping to consolidate their number from 90 institutions to 25. It’s called the “Soludo Solution.”