still vividly remember that as a secondary school boy
some years back, the image of Liberia that was etched
on my mind was that of a free country. This was reinforced
by the motto of the country: The love of freedom
brought us here.
my history class then, we were taught that Liberia was
a country that was founded on freedom and that it was
the only one on the continent that was not under any
form of colonial rule. This was because it was ruled
by freed slaves of the Americas and the Caribbean at
the termination of the heinous trade in humans.
this part of the history might be contested because
there are those who are of the belief that the rule
of the American-Liberians (as the freed slaves were
called), was in itself a product of internal colonisation.
Well, this is not our concern today. What is of interest
to us today is the pace that has just been set by this
rather traumatised country. It is no longer news that
since the brutal overthrow and murder of the late President
William Tolbert by the infamous regime of the late Samuel
Doe, the country had known no peace.
a few weeks back a glimmer of hope was thrown up with
the election of a new government by the people of the
country. The new president, Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf,
is not new to the country. Apart from her sterling academic
credentials and experience as a senior World Bank official,
the grandma who is a former minister is coming to power
at a time the country is in dire need of her kind of
has set a pace by being the first woman ever to head
any kind of a modern government on the continent. The
good news does not end there, she has thrust on her
a very heavy mantle that she must show to the world
that shes capable of carrying.
a very long time, the continent has been regarded as
a domain of men, whether of ideas or not; they have
held the mantle of power and now with this record-setting
pace from Liberia, it is left for her to show the light
to the other countries that women can really make a
difference in the corridor of power.
is also good to congratulate the citizens of the country
for throwing this challenge to her. Right from the start
and after taking a look at the credentials of all those
who showed interest in the job, Id concluded that
the right candidate is Johnson-Sirleaf. Her closest
rival, George Weah, by my own understanding, does not
have the experience needed to bring this rich but unfortunate
country back on its feet.
and during the elections that led to her victory, Id
found myself at various fora where the issue of who
was fit to rule Liberia was discussed. Most of those
who are avid soccer fans were fanatical about Weah and
felt that he was fit to rule. On my own part, perhaps
not being a footfall fan, I was stoutly opposed to his
coming to power.
opposition was not based on my not being a football
fanatic; no, far from that. It was based on what I believe
is lack of enough cognate experience, as
they call it in the corporate world.
me, Weah owes his fame to the round leather and nothing
more. The core of his supporters are youths who only
admire him because of his prowess on the field and not
because of any other thing. My argument is that you
need more than the mercurial moves of your feet on a
football field to rule a nation. It is even more serious
for a nation like Liberia where all forms of amenities
have broken down in the last two decades or so. It is
not too much to say that most of those youths who supported
Weah are mostly the same ones who carried guns and thought
it was fun to be child soldiers.
the tasks ahead of the new president are enormous and
rather than envy her, we must agree that her role is
not a thing to trifle with. With her election, Johnson-Sirleaf
has set a pace and she must wake up to this reality
because a lot is expected of her as a pacesetter and
she cannot afford to fail. As someone has rightly pointed
out, her victory must not be romanticised. We agree
it has broken a long held myth that the continent is
only ready for men as presidents.
has, with this step, set a pace for America and shown
that it is ready to embrace leadership of women. The
continent has for long been dominated by the male ego
and it has not brought it out of the woods. This will
perhaps help resolve the logjam and economic stagnation
of the continent.
is now the opportunity for all those women activists
to rally round their own and make her tenure a success
thereby shaming the men that they do not in any way
hold the monopoly of knowledge to put the continent
back to work. This grandmother is really in need of
all, cooperation she can garner because the work ahead
is big and challenging. She must also not discountenance
the contributions of such people like Weah. It is no
hidden fact that this former football star has a large
following among the youths. For her to get all she needs
to succeed, she needs the support of all citizens, and
she must go all out to curry their support.
suggestion to her is to face how to bring back the country
from its lost glory before seeking to try Charles Taylor
as some people are already suggesting. Her first duty
is to unite all; Taylors trial should be secondary.
Johnson-Sirleaf should bring back the freedom that has
for decades traumatised her compatriots.