At the end of October I learned that Eileen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with 2 other women, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman. Johnson Sirleaf is the first elected female African president and Gbowee from Liberia is active reconciling fighting factions. Karman,a 32 year old, Yemeni journalist inspired thousands of Yemen women to speak out. Karman called the award “a victory for our revolution, for our methods, for our struggle, for all Yemeni youth, and all the youth in the Arab world.”
I find myself singing Handel’s Aleluja chorus when I think of these three women at work in this tattered world. Go Madam Eileen. Give your heart, Gbowee. And Karman, speak the truth. Thank Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Abraham and especially Sarah. Finally we can hear some women’s voices. Thank you ancestors and the Living Spirit. In Liberia after the November 7 elections, Johnson Sirleaf appointed Gbowee to head a National peace and Reconciliation Initiative. “Reconciliation is a personal, internal, collective journey that people must decide they are going to take,” says Gbowee. Without a country addressing national grievances, no healing can occur. Liberians are still divided over the 1985 presidential elections and problems of unemployment and disempowerment rise up like a dusty whirling dust storm. During Liberia’s civil war, Gbowee brought together several dozen Christian and Muslim women who rose up to stop the war.
Sirleaf is affectionately known as Africa’s “Iron–lady”, due to her iron determination. She was awarded the Peace Prize for her “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” There have only been 12 previous female Nobel Peace Prizes in 110 years, one was Wangari Maathai in 2004. Here on this October day speckled with yellow leaves falling like stars, we say goodbye to Maathai recently deceased and hello to Sirleaf, who will continue to inspire us to the higher calling of unity. Turn away from petty disputes toward healing.
Dear ancestors, Ishtar, Sarah, Hecate, Shekinah, Kali, Mary and Sophia. Give us guidance. Thanks be for all the women warriors who carry the torch of truth and compassion across the weeping land.