This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
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In January 2006, after the Republic of Liberia had been racked by fourteen years of brutal civil conflict, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf—Africa's "Iron Lady"—was sworn in as president, an event that marked a tremendous turning point in the history of the West African nation.
In this stirring memoir, Sirleaf shares the story of her rise to power, including her early childhood; her experiences with abuse, imprisonment, and exile; and her fight for democracy and social justice. She reveals her determination to succeed in multiple worlds, from her studies in the United States to her work as an international bank executive, to campaigning in some of Liberia's most desperate and war-torn villages and neighborhoods. It is the tale of an outspoken political and social reformer who fought the oppression of dictators and championed change. By telling her story, Sirleaf encourages women everywhere to pursue leadership roles at the highest levels of power, and gives us all hope that we can change the world.
point. Some abolitionists took up the cry as part of their attack on slavery, while some religious adherents thought the idea an excellent means of spreading Christianity to “the dark continent.” Some white Americans, considering themselves pragmatists, thought black people would simply be happier and fare better in Africa, where they could live free of the racial discrimination that gripped America. Others simply wanted to rid the new country of all black people as soon as possible. In this
the coup, but once down that path we still never attacked the basic problem of what it means to be Liberian. Who are we? What are we? What are our true roots and what is it that we should be working toward? We still lack a spirit of nationalism that will represent a renaissance. It is that renaissance that we all yearn for today but just can’t bring ourselves to fully embrace, because we’re still so individualistic in everything we do—clannish, tribalistic, divided among ourselves. We’ve never
foreign minister to dedicate himself to political activism, labeling himself a staunch socialist and pan-Africanist and calling for true multiparty democracy in Liberia. As we were both in the United States, he reached out to me and I participated in meetings of his group. We were sometimes joined by Winston Tubman, William Tubman’s nephew, who was then working at the United Nations. I thus became identified with that movement, even though I was not really a member of PAL. Baccus Matthews would
not knowing when I’d be able to return or what I might find when I did. CHAPTER 6 CLIMBING THE CORPORATE LADDER I REMAINED at the World Bank for less than a year, but it was during that time that I had the opportunity to meet Robert McNamara. It was a brief meeting, right after I returned to the bank, but the forcefulness of this man was not lost on me. We made a connection and have kept in touch over these many years. McNamara, the U.S. secretary of defense under President Lyndon
as were Jennie and her family, I remained connected to Liberia. I kept abreast of developments in Liberia. Starting in 1981, Samuel Doe reported the first of what he said were planned or attempted coups. That August the government executed five members of the ruling People’s Redemption Council for allegedly plotting to kill Doe, including Thomas Weh-Syen, the man who had driven me from Liberia with rumors that he was out to get me. The following year, Doe arrested, then released, after protests,