16 January 2006
I awoke this morning celebrating Africa! Sworn in today as president of the Republic of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf makes history as the first female head of state in the entire continent of Africa. What a beautiful day it is today for her! Not only does she make history today, but she starts her leadership to revitalize a terribly depressing situation where about 85% of the people in the country are unemployed and even more are illiterate, according to Today show reports. Like many other nations on the continent, Liberians have limited access to clean water and acquire diseases as a result. The number of people infected with HIV/AIDS continues to increase.
Does Johnson Sirleaf shake in her bones?
Not for a minute. Despite the whelming task before her and the threats to her life, she goes forward with amazing courage.
So I go forward with her in prayer. I want to see her succeed because she is a woman in an unprecedented role. I also want to see Liberia resurrect. This country, established by free black Americans in 1822 through the American Colonization Society, is so much a part of US history. Their flag resembles ours. They speak English. Their capital Monrovia is named after our 5th president. I watched a Discovery Times Channel documentary where the people of Liberia talked about how they sometimes even consider themselves our 51st state.
The U.S. must celebrate with Johnson Sirleaf and support her presidency. I'm thrilled that Laura Bush headed a delegation from the U.S. to attend the innauguration. Additionally, President Bush claims Liberia to be a priority of his government, sending a small group of U.S. agents to protect Johnson Sirleaf and spending about $840 million last year to help Liberia recover from civil war. I hope Bush will continue to work closely with Johnson Sirleaf and the Liberian people.
I celebrate! It feels so good. And while many other countries have entrusted their leadership to women, Liberia still beats the U.S. in this achievement. So I hope she'll be a shining example to women and men worldwide with her leadership, grace and strength.
It's a beautiful day in history!
Oh, and she's a United Methodist, too!