Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Some "Black Positive" stuff...

"The Queen of Africa" Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
The New President of Liberia

Here's some "Black Positive" stuff that's going on 'round the world: The First African Woman President & Black Klansman.

Now, before you start with the "Dave Chappelle" joke, noooo, I'm not talking about "Tyrone Biggums."

The brotha was undercover working for the side of good.

Read on...



Liberia Installs Africa's First Woman Head Of State

Published on 1/17/2006

Monrovia, Liberia — Greeted by shouts of “Queen of Africa!” and standing before the bullet-scarred capitol of this war-torn nation, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Harvard-trained banker and stalwart survivor of Liberia's brutal politics, took the oath of office on Monday to become Africa's first woman to be elected a head of state.

Her words interrupted again and again with joyful shouts of “Yes!” and “Amen!” Johnson Sirleaf told the crowd that she would bring “a fundamental break with the past, thereby requiring we take bold and decisive steps to address the problems that for decades have stunted our progress, undermined national unity and kept old and new cleavages in ferment.”

It was a jubilant moment suffused with history, observed with smiles by members of the old boy's club Johnson Sirleaf joins, the formerly all-male fraternity of African leaders. Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria's president and chairman of the African Union, looked on beaming as Johnson Sirleaf took the oath of office.
A U.S. delegation led by Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also looked on, seated beneath simple woven canopies, the high-level delegation a sign of the long and often troubled relationship between Liberia, which was founded by slaves returned from the United States in 1847, and the United States.

In the front row sat also-ran George Weah, the soccer star who lost to Johnson Sirleaf and refused to concede the election, raising the possibility that long-suffering Liberia's opportunity for lasting peace might slip away. But Weah conceded last month, paving the way for Monday's historic ceremony.

Despite the euphoria, Johnson Sirleaf faces a mountain of troubles in a nation afflicted by civil war for 14 years. Liberia's infrastructure is in shambles; there is no piped water, no electric grid. Its roads, schools and health centers, where they still exist, barely function.
An interim government that has ruled since warlord Charles Taylor fled in 2003 was supposed to kick-start development, but rampant corruption forced many foreign donors to halt their programs.

The European Union had been supporting an effort to electrify the capital, for example, but withdrew because of corruption concerns. With the new president taking office, the EU will begin the program again, committing $70 million. The United States is committed to rebuilding the country's armed forces. The U.N. mission in Liberia, which includes 15,000 peacekeeping troops, costs about $700 million a year.

Liberians, even the partisans of Weah, who had rampaged through the streets to protest what they said was a rigged election, exulted in the moment, by turns relieved that war seems finally to have left their shores and proud that their nation has produced the continent's first head of state who is a woman.

“I voted for George Weah, but I accept Ellen because she is our Ma and is going take care of us,” said Benedict Newon, a 19-year-old former child soldier. He first hoisted a weapon for Charles Taylor when he was 10, though he later switched allegiance to another rebel group.

“I never carry gun again,” Newon said, gesturing at his 8-month-old son and his wife Fatou's pregnant belly. “I have a future now. I gotta protect it. I gotta be patient with Ma Ellen.”
That notion of president as mater familias may seem new, but in Liberia politics has always been paternalistic — fighters for Taylor called him their “Papay.”

In an interview before the inauguration, Johnson Sirleaf said that unlike some Western women in politics, she embraces the stereotypical feminine roles as part of her appeal, though she is also known as Liberia's iron lady from her years in opposition politics, which included two stints as a political prisoner.

“The iron lady of course that comes from the toughness of many years of being a professional in a male dominated world,” Johnson Sirleaf said. “But also the many young people we have here, and the suffering I have seen, and the despair and lack of hope, brought out the motherliness in me, and that is where the Ma Ellen comes from.”

It is a combination — tough and tender — that has won women new respect in the increasingly democratic political scene in Africa. Once dominated by male autocrats, many African countries now have women in high positions and a handful are poised to join Johnson Sirleaf at the pinnacle of power.

Women from across the continent flocked to Monrovia to celebrate her victory. Abena P.A. Busia, an English professor from Ghana said she would have swum to the inauguration.

Euphoria was palpable in the streets, where squads of workers frantically readied this battered city for its long-awaited close-up. Lacking heavy equipment, crews painted lines in the roads using huge stencils and hand brushes.

Pandora Matati, a 20-year-old former fighter, was among the crews who worked furiously to prepare for the big event. “I love Ellen because she is going to do so much for us,” Matati said as she took a brief break from her job laying concrete at the capitol. “With Ellen, anything is possible.”


You go, girl!!

Coming up next, "Tyrone Biggums"...


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