Liberia’s President says Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee too young to know value of peace

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Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Ghana for Atta-Mills funeral in July

The President of Liberia who is in London for a UN development meeting has dismissed Leymah Gbowee’s recent statement and resignation on account of her age. In response to the Gbowee affair, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said that Gbowee was “too young to know what Liberia had been through to achieve peace“.

Forget that both Johnson and Gbowee share a Nobel Prize for Peace for their contributions to Liberia. Forget that Leymah Gbowee is a 40-year-old adult woman with children of her own. Then ask yourself whether you have to be old to appreciate peace or to understand what a nation has to endure to find peace. Was it not Liberia’s young that paid the highest toll before it gained peace?

But in any case, if President Johnson had thought Gbowee was too young to know the value of Liberia’s peace, why then did she appoint her to the nation’s peace and reconciliation commission?

On charges against her on nepotism, President Johnson-Sirleaf repeated her now usual utterance that he sons were in office because of their competence. She wants us to believe that of the 4 million Liberians at home and in the diaspora that only members of her family have integrity or know-how. Okay Madam President, we hear what you’re saying but quite frankly, we don’t believe you.

In the Guardian she said:

“I challenge anyone who says it’s with me or my family. We have a very vibrant society, a society that’s full of rumours and innuendoes … Now I have to put [people] in certain places where I get the best results based upon talent, based upon competence and based upon integrity, and that’s what I do. I stand the test and I challenge anyone who says there are other motives. I stand by my record and stand by the record of my family very firmly.”

One thing is certain from President Johnson-Sirleaf’s statement, and that is that as a mother, there is no length to which she will not go to protect her family. And much like the old generation on the continent in positions of leadership, she falsely believes that there is a direct positive relationship between age and knowledge.