Liberian President Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf continues her book launch tour here in the United States. The book, entitled
"This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life," by Africa's first woman
President includes information about President Sirleaf's personal and political
The book is somewhat of a prophecy come true when, as
President Sirleaf writes, an old man visits her parents' home at the time of
her birth and predicts that she will grow up to be great.
Sirleaf dedicates part of the book to her mother, whom she describes as the real
force that shaped her life.
demonstrated her courage when our father, her husband, had a stroke very early
and she had to make ends meet to give us an education. She was a pastor so she
was deeply rooted in faith. And so we grew up in a family home based on prayers
and faith and hard work, and I think everything that represents the character
in me may really have come from her," President Sirleaf said during a book launching program in Washington.
book also captures what President Sirleaf describes as the complexities and
contradictions of Liberia, including the dichotomy in its population between
indigenous and Americo-Liberians.
mother was 50 percent indigenous from Sinoe County but happened to have been a
ward to a German trader who left the country when she was an early age because Liberia declared war on Germany and they had to leave. And so in a way we represented both worlds. But at
the same they were given to settler families and so they were to get an
education. And in a way you might say through education and profession they also became part of the
elite class. And so that very complex background represents the complexities
and contradictions of our own nation and its beginnings," she said.
Sirleaf discusses in her book how she got married at an early age to a man who
she said was at times abusive. But the president said the marriage made her stronger.
violence is quite common in our country, in Africa, in other places, and many
women suffer in silence as I did. On the other hand, in fairness to my children's
father, I always said that that also made me strong. That helped to build the
character in me, Sirleaf said.
paid a heavy political prize through imprisonments, President Sirleaf said she
had no choice but to run for president.
She credits her victory as Africa's first elected female president to
what she calls her secret weapon – the women of Liberia.
did everything. Like I said women from all walks of life, rural women, urban
women, illiterate women, professional women, poor women, rich women, they all
decided, our time has come," she said.
Sirleaf told young women who might want to follow in her footsteps that it was
possible to raise a family while at the same time pursuing their career dreams.
Some observers say it is rare for a
sitting president to write a book since some of the information included in the
book could be used against President Sirleaf in case she decides to run for
re-election in 2011.
But Information Minister Laurence Bropleh says President Sirleaf is not worried
"While she is on the stage of time, on the stage politically, she is more concerned
about what she can do to transform humanity and to make a constructive
difference for the rest of the Liberian people," Bropleh said.
Sirleaf told the huge crowd in Washington that the measure of her success as president
would come when Liberia is put on an irreversible course towards reconciliation
"Iron Lady" of Liberia, who is 70 years old, said she still works 14 plus hours
a day. But President Sirleaf said she looks forward to the time after her
presidency when she would sit under a coconut tree sipping coconut water and
not worry about receiving crisis telephone calls.