You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
Leymah Gbowee, Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War
The first time I heard Leymah Gbowee (Winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize) speak was when she was a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Beautifully attired, she had an effortless grace that highlighted, rather than restrained, her activist spirit. It wasn’t long before she was admonishing the audience to look closely at their own lives. She asked why there was hunger and poverty in North America.
The next day, I ordered the audio book from the local public library and soon I was walking with Leymah. Leymah recounts the years of the Liberian conflict where she witnessed the ravages of civil war. Throughout the narrative, she speaks about the universal themes of domestic violence, betrayal and misuse of power. Leymah endured humiliation and deprivation but she prevailed and came to recognize the transformational power of women working together in community.
Leymah Gbowee‘s efforts are not finished. She continues to work for peaceful outcomes. And she urges others to look for ways in which to build peace. Our world is in crisis – working together gives us reason to hope.
What are my takeaways?
1) Leymah wrote this book to inspire change beyond the borders of Liberia.
2) The power of community in action is indomitable.
3) Everyone has the power to be a peace builder.
“Leymah bore witness to the worst of humanity and helped bring Liberia out of the dark. Her memoir is a captivating narrative that will stand in history as testament to the power of women, faith and the spirit of our great country”
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 2011: