Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia

Politics is tough in Africa, and especially as a woman. But our next feature known by the moniker the “Iron Lady” was inaugurated in 2006 as the world’s first elected black female president and the continent’s first elected female head of state, she is no other than Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Forbes 87th most powerful woman in the world.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Unless you are a political opponent of Sirleaf, you would certainly agree that she has become an African icon following Nelson Mandela’s lead. Hmm… what with the many firsts she has accomplished, she was also awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize along with countrywoman Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni Tawakkol Karman – “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace building work.”

Yet despite her many accolades along with her efforts to reconcile Liberia, Sirleaf saw some notable intrigues.

Nepotism and Corruption

Being your country’s president, is it right for you to appoint family to government posts? In Sirleaf’s case, she appointed three of her sons to crucial positions in her administration. So yes, clearly it is nepotism. And mind you, “with nepotism comes more corruption.”

But then, would you also be that shallow? I mean, okay, they are her sons but does that make them unskilled for their positions? Yes!? And who would you recommend then? See, governments and concerned parties should learn from this. Balance is needed to govern rightfully, just make sure of transparency.

Anti-gay Law

This is a very touchy subject, however, if you could come out on top on sensitive issues – you’re indeed a Leader. Well, while the West has led the world in gay rights, Liberia chose to stay with it’s “traditions.” As Sirleaf put it, “We like ourselves just the way we are … We’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve.” But for Liberia’s former Solicitor General, “if she tried to decriminalize the law it would be political suicide.”

Still, though Sirleaf did not legalize homosexuality, she also did not strengthen laws against it.

If you were the President, would you do what Sirleaf did? As president, you were not elected to please the world, thus you just have to continue doing what is best for your people in a manner that would not hurt them and your culture.

Diplomatic as it may seem on the outside world, what matters is on the inside … of your country.

What’s your take?