I’ve decided to pay more attention to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. I am just finishing This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President. Johnson Sirleaf’s story is amazing, and her memoir offers an incredible history of Liberia.
It is not my intention now to write a review of the book. Yes, I recommend it. Johnson Sirleaf is brilliant, with a strong background in economics and finance. She appears to be keenly aware of the needs, potential and promise of Liberia, and the African continent as a whole. At this point, I want to keep up with President Johnson Sirleaf’s current work, so I’m introducing a new category on Turning Left: Liberia. Expect to read more in the days and weeks ahead.
Let me begin here: Johnson Sirleaf writes stirring and frightening accounts of the bloodbaths of former Liberian presidents Samuel K. Doe and Charles G. Taylor. Charles Taylor is currently on trial in the Hague. President Doe was captured in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, by faction leader Prince Y. Johnson on September 9, 1990. He was tortured and killed. According to Johnson Sirleaf’s memoir, Doe’s ears were sawed off before he died. No one deserves to die that way, Johnson Sirleaf comments, no matter what they’ve done.
So I’m going to start following Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. I believe she is worth of attention. For all I know, she could secretly be a scoundrel — but I don’t think so. My gut tells me she’s for real.
The latest I was able to find is a piece dated today regarding President Johnson Sirleaf taking her Executive Mansion "on the road," visiting the people where they live.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has virtually taken the Executive Mansion "on the road," as the implementation of development projects becomes more compelling, with the arrival of the dry season.
The President was, a little over a week ago, in Falie, Grand Cape Mount County, discussing with her direct representatives-the Superintendents-in the political sub-divisions of the country, their programs and challenges. A number of issues emerged at the forum which not surprisingly, included the administration of the County Development Funds (CDF).
The exercise has, understandably, come under serious criticism, owing to what critics see as a lack of transparency in its administration. The President acknowledged that some of the accusations may not be true. "Some may be rumors; some may be misunderstanding, but in several cases, funds have been misused or misallocated. Your responsibility is to take charge of the CDF in such a way that the mandates given by our Constitution to the three branches of Government are fully respected.
"We are not going to do anything in a confrontational way; we are going to do it through consultations, through dialogue, through working with colleagues with one common objective in mind, an objective that is common to all the branches and to all the leaders and to all the citizens of the County, and that objective is: to bring development to the people. I am sure that in that spirit, we will be able to find a solution, to come up with new procedures that will enable us to get more results and have more effectiveness and efficiency in the implementation of our County Development Projects," the Liberian leader reminded her officials, urging them to start a process of consultation to achieve the objective.
Too many times, she observed, leaders are removed from the people they serve. "Many times the People do not know; this is why sometimes the lack of information gives way to rumors and to wrong information. You are responsible to hold consultations with your citizens. You need to go into the districts, the communities, in the villages. Tell them what you are doing. Show them that the CDA comes out of a process in which they contributed. It’s their project. This is what has been done; these are the problems; this is our progress-so they can know. Because they are the ones that will defend you," she urged the County Superintendents.
I am completely impressed. This sounds just like the woman I read about in This Child Will Be Great. And I look forward to reading more.