Liberia: “I Divorced Taylor Because of Jealousy”

Photo credit AP


Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor has claimed that she divorced former President Charles Taylor because of “jealousy.”.

Taylor, whose marriage with the disgraced warlord lasted for about nine years, noted  that she had no idea how to cope with the former president’s other wives; and so, she made the “crucial decision to get a divorce”.

According to her she felt lost and had no idea how to cope with her co-wives; and so, she quit.

“After a while, seeing no clear way forward; I made a crucial decision to get a divorce, set my sights on my own dreams, created my own pathway and followed it to the end of my rainbow,” she added. 

Speaking as Liberia’s first-ever female vice president, Madam Jewel Howard Taylor shared these revelations in an interview with Michael Adeboboye, president, Congress of African Journalists/CAJ International Magazine Editor-in-Chief. In the interview, which appears to be a precursor to her upcoming memoir, VP Taylor hints that certain details of her relationship with her ex-husband would be discussed in the pending publication.

Charles Taylor was Liberia’s president from 1997 to 2003. Between 1989 and 1997, he led an invasion that ignited a 14-year civil war in Liberia, with ripple effects in neighboring countries, including Sierra Leone. He is serving a 50-year sentence in a British prison after being convicted in 2012 at an international tribunal in The Hague for aiding and abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone. More than 300,000 people are believed to have been killed during the concurrent conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone, partially over “blood diamonds”, between 1989 and 2003.

VP Taylor was the third wife of President Taylor, and they have a son. Mr. Taylor is the first Liberian to be convicted for war crimes since the end of the 14 years civil war in 2003. Through his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), one of the most notorious warring factions during the war, Taylor fought relentlessly until hostilities ceased in 1997, when Liberians overwhelmingly voted for him to become president, as they marched through the streets of Monrovia, chanting: “You killed my ma, you killed my pa, I will vote for you.”

Mr. Taylor was sworn in on August 2, 1997, as President of Liberia after elections that were part of a peace agreement.

According to VP Howard Taylor, when she met him, he was neither a warlord nor an evil genius. “As I look at the different sides of the man Charles Ghankay Taylor, let me say that on the one side he was charismatic, a dependable father, a loyal friend and a caring leader, among others.”

Before becoming vice president, VP Taylor was senior senator for Bong County, the province from which her ex-husband based his NPFL faction and controlled much of the Liberian interior during the civil war. After the war, she ran for senate as a member of ex-President Taylor’s National Patriotic Party (NPP).

Since his conviction, she has played a prominent role in the party, spurring debates over why she would be heading his party or even still bearing his last name after she had divorced him. 

“To those who feel I am using this name for fame or favor, [they] need to look at both sides of the coin. The first angle is that I am a known female politician. If I were to change my name, what would happen to the legacy that I have, by the grace of God, painstakingly built over the many years,” she asked.

According to her, she would become unknown and would have to keep giving one explanation after another in order to prove that she was not ‘fake’. “Since I have built a brand name, JEWEL HOWARD TAYLOR, it’s easier to recognize who I am at all levels. For once you hear the name - Jewel Howard Taylor, you know that I am the original and that there is no duplicate. For though there are many Mrs. Taylors (fake and real), I am thankfully the only Jewel Howard Taylor. The other angle is the perspective that I am riding his horse of political strength.”

She added that though she has gone through tough times, she is grateful for the many contributions she has made in the lives of many women in Liberia and the world.

“For though there are many Mrs. Taylors (fake and real), I am thankfully the only Jewel Howard Taylor. The other angle is the perspective that I am riding his horse of political strength. The true answer is in the fact that, [if] you look at how God has given me the grace to go from one level to another, you will see that I have charted my own path and I am walking on my own road. I could have just gone from being First Lady to NO LADY. I decided that there was more to give my nation; I braved the storm and heeded my CALL TO SERVICE.”

In 2017, Jewel was chosen by George Weah as his running mate on the ticket of the newly formed Coalition  for Democratic Change (CDC), a tripartite body comprising the Congress for Democratic Change, the National Patriotic Party and the Liberian People Democratic Party. Following a run-off in late 2017, she became the first female Vice President of Liberia when the Coalition won the elections. 

VP Taylor did not say when her memoir is expected to be published. Yet, in the interview with CAJ’s Adeboye, she took great efforts to excuse herself from her ex-husband’s warmongering, while sharing glimpses of her perspective on finding her voice in the male-dominated world of Liberian politics, at the same time opting out of her husband’s inner circle due to her experiences of “confusion, anguish and inner pain”.