Today in History - November 23. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first elected female head of state in Africa

November 23 is the 327th day of the year . There are 38 days remaining until the end of the year


Liberian President (8145418996).jpg
Ellen Johnson Sirlea

Today's Highlight in History:

2005 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is elected president of Liberia and becomes the first woman to lead an African country.


She was declared the winner of the Liberian election and confirmed as the country's next president.on 23 November 2005, Her inauguration, attended by many foreign
dignitaries, took place on 16 January 2006 after which Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took charge as the 24th and President of Liberia and the first elected female head of state in Africa

Sirleaf was born in Monrovia, and attended the College of West Africa. She married James Sirleaf at the age of 17 years,and then traveled with him to the United States in 1961 to continue her studies and earned an associate degree in accounting at Madison Business College, in Madison, Wisconsin. In 1970 she enrolled at the Economics Institute in Boulder, Colorado, for her graduate studies. She studied economics and public policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, gaining a Master of Public Administration.


On her return to Liberia, Sirleaf served as assistant minister from 1972 to 1973 under Tolbert's administration. She resigned after getting into a disagreement about spending. Subsequently she was Minister of Finance from 1979 to April 1980. When Sergeant Samuel Doe, seized power in an 12 April 1980 military coup, Tolbert was assassinated and all but four members of his cabinet were executed by firing squad. The People's Redemption Council took control of the country and led a purge against the former government. Sirleaf initially accepted a post in the new government as President of the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment, however, she fled the country in November 1980 after publicly criticizing Doe and the People's Redemption Council for their management of the country.

She moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the World Bank and later moved to Nairobi in 1981 to serve as Vice President of the African Regional Office of Citibank and resigned in 1985 following her involvement in the 1985 election in Liberia and went to work for Equator Bank, a subsidiary of HSBC. In 1992, Sirleaf was appointed as the Director of the United Nations Development Programme's Regional Bureau for Africa at the rank of Assistant Administrator and Assistant Secretary General (ASG), from which she resigned in 1997 to run for president in Liberia.

Sirleaf at her inauguration in Monrovia.

During her time at the UN, she was one of the seven internationally eminent persons designated in 1999 by the Organization of African Unity to investigate the Rwandan genocide, one of the five Commission Chairs for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue and one of two international experts selected by UNIFEM to investigate and report on the effect of conflict on women and women's roles in peace building. She was the initial Chairperson of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and a visiting Professor of Governance at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).

Sirleaf stood for president as the candidate of the Unity Party in the 2005 general election. She placed second in the first round of voting behind footballer George Weah. In the subsequent run-off election, Sirleaf earned 59% of the vote versus 40% for Weah, though Weah disputed the results. The announcement of the new leader was postponed until further investigations were carried out. On 23 November 2005, Sirleaf was declared the winner of the Liberian election and confirmed as the country's next president. Her inauguration, attended by many foreign dignitaries, including United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and First Lady Laura Bush, took place on 16 January 2006.

Sirleaf campaigning in Monrovia in 2005,
shortly before she was elected.
In January 2010, Sirleaf announced that she would run for a second term in office in the 2011 presidential election while speaking to a joint session of the Legislature. Opposition leaders noted that in doing so, she had broken a promise made during her 2005 campaign to only serve one term if elected. Sirleaf was renominated as the Unity Party's presidential candidate at the party's national convention on 31 October 2010. That same day, Vice President Joseph Boakai was nominated by Sirleaf and confirmed by the delegates as Sirleaf's running mate.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Sirleaf four days prior to the election sparked criticism from opposition parties, with Congress for Democratic Change candidate Winston Tubman calling the award "undeserved" and "a political interference in our country's politics." Sirleaf called the timing of the award a coincidence and avoided mentioning the award during the final days of campaigning.

Sirleaf won She took presidential oath for her second presidency on 16 January 2012.

Forbes magazine named Sirleaf as the 51st most powerful woman in the world in 2006. In 2010,Newsweek listed her as one of the ten best leaders in the world, while Time counted her among the top ten female leaders. That same year, The Economist called her "arguably the best president the country has ever had." Sirleaf in 2012 attracted international attention for an interview regarding LGBT rights.. In 2010, Sirleaf released her first book, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President.

Sirleaf is the mother of four sons, and she has eight grandchildren. She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and an honorary member of the Links, Incorporated.
From left to right: Tawakkul Karman,
 Leymah Gbowee, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
 display their awards during the presentation of the
 Nobel Peace Prize, 10 December 2011 (Photo:Harry Wad).

Sirleaf was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen. The women were recognized "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work." She was also conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize by President of India Pranab Mukherjee on 12 September 2013. As of 2014, she is listed as the 70th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.





World Events





1889 – The first jukebox goes into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.
1890 – King William III of the Netherlands dies without a male heir and a special law is passed to allow his daughter Princess Wilhelmina to succeed him.
1910 – Johan Alfred Ander becomes the last person to be executed in Sweden.
1924 – Edwin Hubble's scientific discovery that Andromeda, previously believed to be a nebula within our galaxy, is actually another galaxy, and that the Milky Way is only one of many such galaxies in the universe, was first published in a newspaper.
1936 – Life magazine is reborn as a photo magazine and enjoys instant success.
1963 – The BBC broadcasts the first episode of Doctor Who (starring William Hartnell), which is now the world's longest running science fiction drama.
1971 – Representatives of the People's Republic of China attend the United Nations, including the United Nations Security Council, for the first time.
1974 – 60 Ethiopian politicians, aristocrats, military officers, and other persons are executed by the provisional military government.
1976 – Apneist Jacques Mayol is the first man to reach a depth of 100 m undersea without breathing equipment.
1985 – Gunmen hijack Egypt Air Flight 648 while en route from Athens to Cairo. When the plane lands in Malta, Egyptian commandos storm the aircraft, but 60 people die in the raid.
1992 – The first smartphone, the IBM Simon, is introduced at COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
1993 – Rachel Whiteread wins both the £20,000 Turner Prize award for best British modern artist and the £40,000 K Foundation art award for the worst artist of the year.
1996 – Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 is hijacked, then crashes into the Indian Ocean off the coast of Comoros after running out of fuel, killing 125.
2001 – The Convention on Cybercrime is signed in Budapest, Hungary.
2004 – The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, the largest religious building in Georgia, is consecrated.
2005 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is elected president of Liberia and becomes the first woman to lead an African country.
2007 – MS Explorer, a cruise liner carrying 154 people, sinks in the Antarctic Ocean south of Argentina after hitting an iceberg near the South Shetland Islands. There are no fatalities.
2009 – The Maguindanao massacre occurs in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, Philippines
2010 – Bombardment of Yeonpyeong: North Korean artillery attack kills 2 civilians and 2 marines on Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea.
2011 – Arab Spring: After 11 months of protests in Yemen, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh signs a deal to transfer power to the vice president, in exchange for legal immunity.

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