Liberia: ‘Truth, Always Opposed, Always Prevails’

Lemah Gbowee

.... Gbowee replies to Unity Party critics in veiled response

Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee has defended her stance in her candid counsel for the UP to “do the right thing and allow its Standard Bearer Joseph Nyuma Boakai to retire from politics and focus on his health.”

According to her, what she said is nothing but the truth.

In a short and veiled social media post, which appears to be a reaction to the barrage of criticisms and the insane manner in which she has been ridiculed, Gbowee said that the reactions of members of the former ruling party and sympathizers of the former vice president prove evidential that she has said the truth — because her critics’ retorts are symbolic of the stages that truth undergoes.

The Nobel Laureate ruffled the feathers of Boakai’s loyalists on Monday when she, in a social media post proffered what she termed as an advice, asking Unity Party to retire its standard bearer from politics so that he may focus on his health.

Gbowee, who up until Monday’s Facebook post has always had the support of the Unity Party while she criticized President George Weah, has argued that the former Vice President’s deteriorating health condition requires him to step down from politics for the sake of Liberia’s future.

“Dear Unity Party officials, including my Aunty Dabah Varpilah, in the interest of peace, development, and the future of Liberia, I would like to ask all too kindly allow Uncle Joe Boakai to retire from politics and focus on his health,” Gbowee wrote.

Boakai, according to the Nobel Laureate, deserves to spend his golden years interacting with his grandkids, and not policing when he is in no position to contest the Liberian presidency, with elections less than 10 months away.

The highly regarded elderly statesman, 78, was ill for about a week and was admitted on January 8 at the ELWA Hospital in Paynesville. He was discharged on Sunday, January 15 but the nature of his illness remains unclear.

However, the Nobel Peace Prize winner has since come under a barrage of criticism over the post, which many of her critics described as disparaging.

The VP Boakai Tact Team said it was appalled by Gbowee’s remarks.

“We find the statement to be very disingenuous, coming from a woman who is supposed to be a symbol of peace, dignity, and unity,” Telia Urey, the team's national chairperson, said.

“We advise Gbowee to find a more dignified way to express herself without flagrant and unnecessary disrespect to the former Vice President. Our country is reeling from the backlashes of bad governance and is on the brink of being a pariah state under this government,” Urey said.

She added that it is only Boakai that can deliver the country the kind of serious leadership it is “in need of” to free the country from “this kleptocratic regime.”

UP National vice Chair for Administration, Debah Vapilah, said Gbowee’s post is a well thought through political antic which doesn’t represent the purpose of “peace and development” as the post insinuates. 

The UP stalwart noted that she was, however, constrained to respond to the Nobel Laureate who, as a niece to her (Vapilah) and Mr. Boakai, knows nothing about the latter’s condition.

“I’m constrained to respond to you on Facebook knowing that you have never been inaccessible to me as I have never been in like manner. But I have to do this because you have chosen this medium to communicate your view on a matter you know little about and definitely seems you don’t care to know,” she said in a response on social media.

“Your uncle Joe Boakai, like any human being, was sick, taken to the hospital as it is normally done when one falls sick and he is now well, discharged from the hospital and home with his family awaiting full recovery. I believe that he looks forward to a niece's call or visit from you, whenever you are back in the country and other well-wishers.” 

UP Legislative Caucus Chairman, Hanson Kiazolu, accused Madam Gbowee of playing “politricks” and that her statement did not convey her neutrality as a Peace Ambassador.

Mo Ali, a stalwart and former Secretary General of the Unity Party, also asserted that the 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate is politically active and supports another political party — a claim that contravenes popular belief that she has been a neutral in the body politic of Liberia.

“Ambassador Boakai is the only person who has a realistic chance of defeating George Weah and the CDC. So by writing trash and craps about JNB’s health in her mind would dwindle the chances of JNB and up her candidate” Ali said on his social media page.

Contradicting his earlier statement about Madam Gbowee being active politically, the former UP scribe said, “My advice to Leymah Gbowee is that if she wants to enter the political space in the country and position herself as a serious political actor, she should focus on the myriad of issues that the country is being faced with instead of attacking statesmen to get attention and media coverage.”

Borrowing a quote from the revered German Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, this is how the Nobel Laureate reacted to the numerous stinging criticisms against her: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is RIDICULED. Second, it is VIOLENTLY OPPOSED. Third, it is accepted as being SELF-EVIDENT.” 

EJS Apologizes to Fellow Nobel Laureate on Behalf of UP

Also weighing in on Gbowee’s controversial post was former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Within hours after the wave of criticism and condemnation against Gbowee began pouring, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took to the airwaves to apologize to her fellow Nobel Peace Laureate. 

In what she described as a public apology on behalf of the party, the Unity Party’s standard bearer emeritus said: “I also understand that they also said all kinds of unkind things about my fellow Nobel Prize winner.”

“I apologize to her. As a founder of the Unity Party, I apologize to her,” Sirleaf said when she appeared on the ‘Changing Minds, Changing Attitudes’ show hosted by her former Information Minister, Laurence Komla Bropleh. 

“If anybody said any unkind things to her because all she was doing was making her personal statement. But the kind of disrespect that went with it, so we apologize to her on behalf of the Unity Party.”

When the host of the show was curious to know whether she has such power to act on behalf of the party from which she was once expelled and her membership deactivated, the former President said with laughter, “You are coming again just like what I knew you the last time that my membership was deactivated. It has not been activated but I look forward to seeing it.”