By Moco McCaulay
Only a few days after Liberia’s Nobel Peace Laureate, Leymah Gbowee, publicly lashed out at her co-laureate, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia for corruption, nepotism and failure to do enough to reconcile their war-addled nation, President Sirleaf has responded with an uncannily picture perfect “Yeah, Now What!” retort for Gbowee and her other critics who have dared to lampoon her for displaying crass nepotism by appointing her sons and other relatives to high positions in the government.
Dubbed a “Nobel Smackdown” by the Daily Beast, and by yours truly as “Rumble in the Jungle”, Gbowee shocked the world when she publicly disparaged Pres. Sirleaf, 73, who some observers say has been like a mentor to Gbowee, 40, for basically adopting the same play book of past Liberian leaders who were also noted for corruption and appointing their relatives to lucrative positions within the government.
"What has changed?" Gbowee was quoted by The Telegraph as saying.
"Her sons are on the board of oil companies and one is the deputy governor of the central bank. The gap between the rich and poor is growing. You are either rich or dirt poor, there’s no middle class."
And to register her unambiguous protest against the prevailing state of affairs in the country, Gbowee quit as head of Liberia’s Reconciliation Initiative, which was set up to help the country forge a path toward meaningful reconciliation after a brutal 14-year civil war, which left over 250,000 dead.
But it seems that President Sirleaf has hardly been fazed by her younger co-laureate’s criticisms, at least if there’s anything to the truism: a picture is worth a thousand words. Because, only days later, in what can only be described as “a KODAK Moment” in Ode to Nepotism, glossed over with a touch of Nobel-ity, President Sirleaf was pictured sandwiched by her son, Robert, and her sister, Jennie, during a meeting with Japanese officials at this year’s International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Meeting in Tokyo.
- Analysis: It’s time to reassess Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (dailymaverick.co.za)
- A Nobel Smackdown in Liberia (thedailybeast.com)
- Liberian Nobel laureate quits over government corruption (postzambia.com:3128)