Robertsfield, Margibi County – Enumerations of the marvelous achievements that Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has achieved over her many years of service to nation, continent, and world could not go unnoticed by the many guests at the launch of her Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development.
Even Madam Sirleaf’s successor, President George Manneh Weah, as a way, put the icing on the cake when he mentioned how his predecessor is well known for her illustrious past, including her exemplary leadership, both at home and abroad. The President said Madam Sirleaf’s career has spanned a lifetime of extraordinary achievements, many of them as the first female to attain such heights.
“As a nation and as a people, we Liberians remain very proud of these notable achievements. Madam Sirleaf was the first democratically elected female President in Africa, and the first of two Liberian females to have won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. These, and many other international accolades bestowed upon her, reflect a lifetime of advocacy, hard work and commitment to the betterment of Liberia and humanity in general,” President Weah said.
Speaking further, Pres. Weah told his audience that his predecessor came to office back in 2006 at a critical juncture in Liberia’s history. He added: “With Liberia reeling from the devastation of many years of war, she took on the difficult task of strengthening democracy, peace and security. “When I assumed the mantle of authority in 2018, I undertook to build upon the foundation she had left in order to consolidate our democracy, preserve the peace and ensure economic viability. Without the foundation she had laid, my task of nation-building would have been even more difficult.”
The President spoke Sunday, March 8, at the launch of the Amujae, which is the flagship program of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development. AMUJAE in the Liberian Kru dialect means “We are going up.”
The Liberian leader noted that in spite of the many presidencies Liberia has had since the 1800s, it has not had any Presidential Center to capture the history and serve as a platform for research, documentation and the promotion of noble causes in the interest of our people. “The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development is the first of its kind in our history. It will not only archive the papers and documentation from her career and presidency, but will also chronicle her activities for the empowerment and protection of women, and serve as a springboard for the continued promotion of her causes and interests.”
Pres. Weah than assured his predecessor that his administration will give its fullest support to such a worthy endeavor. “Rest assured of my commitment to working with you in advancing the empowerment and development of women.” Speaking earlier, Madam Sirleaf spoke of how her Center’s initiatives will help expand the number of women ready to hold leadership in Africa.
“And by doing so, women will be in positions in all areas in the society to promote the policies, the programs and the opportunities for other women. Starting from the girl child to better educational opportunities right on up to the highest level of society,” Madam Sirleaf said.
The former President disclosed that Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, founder and president of LoveWorld Incorporated, also known as Christ Embassy, based in Lagos, Nigeria, has donated US$1 million for the construction of the Center’s first structure, which will host the library and archive.
The vision for the Amujae Initiative is to shift the landscape for women in public leadership in Africa, moving from a culture of tokenism to one that truly values women leaders. Its mission is to inspire and prepare women to unapologetically take up roles and excel in the highest echelons of public leadership, and to bring other women along. “Representation is important – by increasing the number of women in public life and leadership, the Center will amplify the voices of all women and girls across Africa,” Madam Sirleaf further added.
While Abuja is the flagship program of the Center, other parts of the Center will include promoting reading through creating a library that will contain collections that President Sirleaf has been able to amass over her many years in leadership.
“There is the exhibition part of it; the archives in which all that I have been able to achieve through memorabilia will be available; presidential papers that reflect the works I have done over the two terms of my presidency- all of those will be available for Liberians, Africans and others to access to be able to use them as inspirations and motivation as they pursue their leadership goals,” Madam Sirleaf told journalists on Friday.
She stated that the library will not just contain only her works, but works of other great women and men on the continent and beyond.
Also speaking, the former President of Nigeria, Mr. Olusugon Obansanjo, said Madam Sirleaf being “sufficiently energized” by continually doing what she is doing after leaving public office, none of them should feel that their works have been done until God takes their breath away.
President Obasanjo told Madam Sirleaf that she has found a need to work for and that need is the situation of women on the continent. He became controversial when said men enjoy the position that they have placed women in; adding: “But it is up to you women to say ‘no’.”
The former Nigerian President also drew laughter from the audience when he said “Culture, my foot” talking about some men basing their treatment of women on cultural and religious beliefs. “Tell me which religions in the world say that women should be under men? None,” he added.
Also making remarks, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor stated that regardless of women’s marginalization, Madam Sirleaf proved it can be done over and over again. “She has reached the point where your voice becomes my voice. We still have challenges because we still need our 50 percent of women across our region. We need more women in the legislature. I hope more women will join us so that the right decision can be made, so that transformation can take place in our budget to accommodate our visions and the visions of our daughters.”
“I am honored to serve as Executive Director for the first presidential center. I am overjoyed. I have reflected on my life and this is what I should be doing in my life’s journey. Having received all my education in Monrovia, all have afforded me the tools to serve me well in this timely position. I shall serve with dedication and commitment. The library and museum will serve as President Sirleaf’s legacy. This Center, one of its kind in Africa, will empower women and girls. We look forward to Africa being gender-sensitive. This center needs to be supported, so we are calling on all to participate and support,” Madam Dr. Ophelia Weeks, the Center’s Executive Director said.
Former President Sirleaf’s Presidential Center was officially launched on the 2020 International Women’s Day. Mae Azango/