Liberia Nobel Peace Prize Leymah Gbowee has apologized to fellow Liberians for her conspicuous absence last Wednesday, December 14, 2011 when thousands of Liberians, including students, women groups and journalists lined-up from the ELWA Junction to the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County to receive her and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from Oslo, Norway.
Quite to the dismay of many Liberians when the aircraft bringing President Sirleaf and her official delegation from Oslo landed at the RIA, her compatriot Leymah Gbowee was nowhere to be seen. Liberians learnt subsequently that Leymah was not bringing her Nobel Peace Prize here to celebrate with fellow Liberians, particularly our mothers and sisters, who tirelessly prostrated with her at the airfield sports ground in the rain and sun, seeking God’s intervention for peace to return to Liberia.
Instead, she headed for Ghana with her kids and other family members. A close associate of Leymah, who travelled with her to Oslo to receive the peace award, later hinted that the Government of Ghana had organized a reception for the Liberian peace laureate in Accra, and she was there to honor that ceremony, and that the story of taking her family back to Ghana was mere cover-up.
However, on Thursday last week, Leymah’s Women Peace and Security Network –Africa (WIPSEN-AFRICA) issued a statement here, denying that she was in Ghana. According to the Women Peace and Security Network-Africa, Miss Gbowee travelled to Sweden on December 14, 2011 from Norway to honor an invitation from Swedish Archbishop to discuss how the Church in that country could contribute to ongoing reconciliation efforts in Liberia. We see a clear contradiction from the Gbowee camp on why she couldn’t come directly to Liberia after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, a country that embraces her campaign for peace and violence against women.
Though Leymah has admitted that she really erred and apologized to the people of Liberia, the controversy surrounding her conspicuous absence on December 14 at the RIA has left a negative impression on many Liberians about her attitude towards Liberia after she won the Nobel Peace Prize. Fundamentally, we hold nothing personal against Miss Leymah Gbowee, but as a Liberian, when she begins to behave in manners that tend to leave room for doubt about her professed loyalty to the country, just days after receiving the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, there is reason to raise eyebrows because success or lifting has a way of confusing our brains, causing us to behave in ways that have unsuspecting consequences.
Leyman would have done well had she first come to Liberia along with President Sirleaf to join her compatriots at the airport in celebration for the historic peace prize that has placed the country one step further in the comity of nations. Liberians should learn to pay homage to or appreciate the land of their nativity no matter their level of success in life. Whether Leymah becomes a naturalized citizen anywhere in the world, her blood line is always traceable to Liberia where her ancestors lived and died. This is a fact that would have to live with for the rest of her life.
We are cognizant of the fact that the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize is a victory for all women in Africa, and the celebration should therefore, be shared with women on the continent, but not at the expense of the happiness of Liberians at home. This is why we are disappointed in Miss Gbowee for choosing to go to Ghana first for a reception before coming to Liberia after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, which does not only show a lack of appreciation for her fellow compatriots here, but demonstrates disloyalty to the highest degree by a woman, who has risen from a humble beginning to such an international status.