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Leadership Changes Life in Liberia
The power of one can truly change a nation. For the past decade Liberia has been characterized by government based on corruption, gun-running, training an army of child soldiers and a penchant for chopping off the hands of civilians. After such strife, peace and hope may finally be settling on Liberia. The leadership of newly elected Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is at the center of this change.

In 1997, Ellen Johnson lost the Presidential campaign to Charles Taylor in a landslide. The people of Liberia, a country in West Africa that was founded in 1847 by freed American slaves, has suffered since. Conditions in Liberia remain difficult. Unemployment is near 70%, there is virtually no municipal water supply, no electricity and no public transit. Still, Liberians no longer live in a state of terror, crime and corruption. Desperate for a better life, they are eager to support the government that replaced ousted dictator and suspected warlord Charles Taylor and has vigorously pursued his detainment and prosecution. 
In only a few months since she was elected, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has provided the hope, vision and management necessary to gain the trust of Liberians.

From the Washington Post,

"Maybe we have the right leaders," said Jallah Kollie, 26, as he used a trowel to finish a concrete mural featuring a soldier and the words "In Pursuit Of Liberty" on the wall of an army barracks once notorious for the torture practiced inside.

"People are confident now in this country," said Thomas Z. Paye, pastor of St. Peter's Lutheran Church, site of an infamous massacre in 1990 that left more than 500 Liberians dead, including Taylor's father. "We believe we are moving from a period of disgrace to grace."
President Johnson-Sirleaf is providing hope by offering a vision of the future and empowering its citizens. It is more than rhetoric. She has dismissed corrupt cabinet members, pursued the conviction of Taylor and met with world leaders including President Bush. With confidence in her ability to stabilize the region, international aid has been forthcoming.  In her campaign for President, she was quoted, "This is the time to come and do it; the time to perform and achieve." She is delivering on that message so far.

One person imposes his will on a people and destroys a country. One person leads by vision, decisive action and empowering its citizens. The leadership of Johnson-Sirleaf will not only change Liberia but may begin to break the cartel of military dictators that have terrorized various regions of Africa. I hope her leadership will be an example of the power of a great leader and beacon of hope for the world.

More on Charles Taylor and the implications of his trial on Africa at Democracy Arsenal.

2 Comments/Trackbacks

Hal, who'd have thought we could find leadership motivation in Liberia?

If "The power of one can truly change a nation," that encourages me that it can also change problems we all face in business.

My question is, How can the leadership of a person such as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf become our solution in a problem situation today?

Seems to me that when it comes to great leadership, it often means looking more to a great vision as you showed so well, than to dwelling on the limitations we face daily. Thoughts?

Hal, thanks for the ideas your post sparked at http://www.brainbasedbusiness.com/visionary_change/. I owe you one...:-)

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