Might y The
fight for peace wins
her the Nobel Prize
Maybe, just maybe, the world is begin- ning to listen to Leymah Gbowee and women like her. Gbowee accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in December (along with two other women) for her part in organizing a peaceful coalition
of women that helped end civil war in her country of
Liberia, in West Africa.
“This prize is acknowledgement that women’s
roles in the peace and security process is crucial,” she
says, “and the world has finally recognized women’s
unique contributions and skills. This recognition
gives hope to all that global peace is within reach.”
Gbowee (the “G” is silent) told her story in Mighty
Be Our Powers, a memoir published in September by
Beast Books. The story begins when she is a teenager,
living a relatively happy and stable life in Monrovia,
But that life and those of a generation of Liberians
took a dark turn with the rise of rebel guerrilla Charles
Taylor. Taylor kidnapped teenage boys and, conditioning them with marijuana and alcohol, molded them
into a ruthless and violent army without conscience.
They wrought an avalanche of arbitrary murder and
rape on the citizens of the country.
In her memoir, Gbowee writes that rice, a staple of
the Liberian diet, became so scarce that people called
it “gold dust,” and government soldiers, no better than
the hordes of ruthless teenagers, killed a man on the
street outside Gbowee’s home for possessing a small
bag of it. Spent bullet casings carpeted the streets and
corpses were a common encounter.
“We had crossed a line,” she writes in describing the
sight of dogs eating the dead. “And I can tell you this:
you never get used to it.”
The war, in two barbaric waves, lasted 14 years and
showed signs of reigniting when the women stood up.
Dressing in white, they began a prayerful occupation,
demanding to be included in peace talks.
“We are tired,” they cried. “We are tired of our chil-
dren being killed. We are tired of being raped.”
Her story is warts and all, revealing habitual
heavy drinking, waves of insecurities and a pattern
of choosing the wrong men as partners. That candor
and the unlikely accomplishments of the women of
Liberia make Mighty Be Our Powers a page-turning
thriller. —Greg G. Weber