Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee – Liberian Activist/EMU Grad Prayed the Devil Back to Hell

Not many places on Earth can boast a Nobel Peace Prize winner as a significant occupant of and contributor to the community!!  2011 Nobel Laureate  Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Eastern Mennonite University/Center for Justice and Peacebuilding MA graduate in Conflict Transformation inspires those of us who feel it is time to occupy. Here is an interview I did with Leymah in fall of 2009 where she talks about how relationships formed at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding impacted her life.  “(EMU) has made the world a village for me”, Gbowee says.

Gbowee shares the peace prize with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and women’s rights activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen. Only 11 other women have won the peace prize in its 110-year history. Gbowee is scheduled to be on the EMU campus Oct. 14-16 to receive the university’s annual Alumna of the Year award as part of homecoming celebrations.

Gbowee’s story of activism to bring peace to Liberia inspired Abigail Disney to return to her family’s business in 2006 to create the documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” which will be shown at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 in the University Commons gymnasium. The doors will open at 7:30 pm and the event will begin at 8 pm.  Here is the movie’s official theatrical trailer:

Here is what Mennonite Weekly Review says about Leymah’s activism and occupation:

Before attending EMU, Gbowee began rising in prominance when she and a group of ordinary women banded together to use nonviolent methods to confront Liberia’s despotic President Charles Taylor and his warlord opponents.

Both sides used child soldiers who terrorized the population, including raping a large percentage of Liberia’s women and girls.

The mothers dressed in white, held up signs saying “We Want Peace” and began to appear wherever the warring leaders could be found. They also told their husbands there would be no sex until the men did everything in their power to stop the war.

At one point the women linked arms and barricaded negotiators for the opposing sides in a conference room. Gbowee threatened to take off her clothes, followed by the other protesting women — an act that, in Liberian culture, would shame and disgrace the men — if the negotiators failed to stay at the table until they arrived at a peace agreement.

The women’s efforts succeeded, and a peace accord was signed in the summer of 2003, leading to U.N.-supervised disarmament beginning in the winter of 2003-04 and finally to the election of Africa’s first woman president in January 2006.

Wow.  Please come on by EMU on Friday, Oct. 14 – it will be a tremendous celebration of what works!!



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