By Rita Henley Jensen
WeNews editor in chief
Friday, October 21, 2011
Anita Hill and Liberia's Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee prevailed in very different historic confrontations. But this week they expressed a similar longing for home. And both were asked about how they'd faced down fear.
At the press briefing, Gbowee was resplendent in native Liberian dress and a head-wrap, and she made clear that she was uneasy about her new status as Nobel Laureate.
"I want to go home," she said. Home for Gbowee might mean the time before she became a Nobel Laureate and was given a driver and waived through customs, invited to use the V.I.P. lounge at the airport. Home also might mean continuing her work throughout Liberia.
"I told the driver I would drive myself," Gbowee said. "And he said ma'am, you goin' to cause me to lose my job." She kept the driver.
She added that when she entered the country as a V.I.P., her luggage was handled for her, but if she entered Liberia as an ordinary citizen and went through customs, five men would carry her bags and she would give a dollar to each one. She prefers to enter Liberia through customs.
She predicted that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the only female president on the continent of Africa, will win the run-off for president and serve another six-year term. Gbowee has endorsed Sirleaf and it is expected the two will continue to work closely on the next stages of Liberia's recovery from the war.
Gbowee also made it clear that when she returned from Oslo, Norway, where she will accept the prize, she plans to begin work on a process of national conversation of reconciliation.
"I will use this prize as a platform," Gbowee said. "We haven't had time to do it until now. And we must use our own process, not one imported."
An audience member asked Gbowee how she dealt with fear during her movement's daily demonstrations.
"The war started when I was 17. I saw my first dead body and I will never forget it. When I was 31, I was jumping over dead bodies without thinking twice. You become immune to fear. We reached a breaking point; we snapped," she said.
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Rita Henley Jensen is editor in chief and founder of Women's eNews.