Once in awhile I read a book about a person so amazing that I start having faith in the human race again. This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s first female President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a book like that. Then again, so many people in the book make me lose faith in the human race. Anyway, after reading many books set in Africa reading about all the negative aspects of postcolonialism, despair, and sadness it was extremely interesting to read about someone who has taken to her heart to change things for the better.
Of course the aforementioned major subjects have their strong place in the book, but when someone acts upon against them, it always makes me happy. There are so many things I’d like to write about in this blog, but I have to restrict myself to a few. To keep a balance, I’ll go for one good, and one bad thing. I still have to mention some basic facts about what President Sirleaf was up against.
Half of Liberians had to get along with less than 50 cents a day. About 70 percent of the population was illiterate, almost 80 percent unemployed. Quite a few of the unemployed were young men, who only knew how to fight, how to be a soldier. The infrastructure was pretty much destroyed; the government did not produce electricity, water, and there were only mobile phones. 25 percent of the population had access to drinkable water. Schools had basically nothing, including no teachers, hospitals had nothing, including no staff. I only have one question. Who is insane enough wanting to be the President of a country like this?
The book is a summary of her life and an insight to Liberia’s history. It might not be the most well-written book (I also read bits from a translated book, which was a lot smoother to read), but I’ll forgive her for that, because when you do what she did, I’m quite forgiving when it comes to the writing. She did so many amazing things before and during her presidency, that I can’t pick my favourite story. I’ll just give you this; if you get elected as the first female president on the continent of Africa and you intend to make things better for everyone, you have one hell of a lady!
I have to say this book also took the reader to a level of nastiness in our world which is hard to understand. Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone had taken influences from Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia. RUF, like Taylor, recruited child soldiers and made them rape or kill their own parents before they solemnly promised themselves to follow their leader. As Sirleaf says in her book, after you’ve raped and killed your parents you can pretty much do anything. And they did.
I highly recommend everyone to read this book. Do not get discouraged because there are these economical parts and her work with world economical issues – it gave her, and the book a good basis for understanding how things work, how corrupt people are, and how diplomacy takes you far, but without resources it can only take you that far.