Mighty Be Her Powers

I’d been waiting to post this little write-up until I’d gotten it just right.  An experience like the one I’m about to describe is so special that I’ve wanted to script it so that the words do the moment justice.  And with that, an entire month has passed and I haven’t posted a thing.  But I keep thinking about it.  And then today I realized…revolutions wait for nothing.  Nor does the call for peace.  Change has no patience.  These are the very things I love about the amazing woman I’m going to share with you, so I too mustn’t wait any longer, even if I still haven’t gotten it ‘just right.’

Earlier this fall I was drawn into a story that charged my body with a physical energy that wouldn’t let up after my journey with it had ended on the last paragraph of that final page.  It’s a rarity to read something so true and compelling that it becomes part of you, when the words take on life and from that moment that life inhabits you as the reader.  “You have not heard it before, because it is an African woman’s story, and our stories are rarely told.”  These are the words of the courageous Leymah Gbowee (and her co-author Carol Mithers) in “Mighty Be Her Powers,” the memoir which follows the young Liberian Gbowee who led her fellow countrywomen in nonviolent protest against a savage, dictatorial regime in her home country just a decade ago.  Leymah, a modern day hero, took a chance on a dream that beckoned her one night to lead a revolution of women by standing up against the terrors of civil war.  With courage, will power and undying faith she carried it through at almost all costs:  an absent mother and struggling alcoholic at times, her journey is marked with the fears, weaknesses, and transgressions of all of humanity.  Leading a peaceful war against oppression while balancing the demands of domestic life is no small task, nor does she lend it to be.  Leymah’s story speaks volumes because of the humility with which she lives her life, a life of small but courageous steps that amounted to an immeasurable shift in history.

October 3, 2011

That history became my own just a few weeks ago as I watched a beautifully robust woman, outfitted in a long blue African dress and a brilliant pink scarf, walk onto the ALOUD stage at the Los Angeles Public Library.  There she stood, just five days before she was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Leymah colored the evening with her grace and wisdom.  Her words: articulate and intentional, kind and humorous.  She believes in the power of prayer and nonviolence, of uniting as women who find strength in each other as fellow sisters, where class, race, and religion play no part.  She recounted the sex strike they led against their husbands- a movement of solidarity to make a statement against the growing violence in their community. She shared the lessons of peace-building- “healing those victimized by war, making them strong again, and bringing them back to the people they once were.”  Leymah emphasized community, and how the one she built -a community of women of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds, who, when united together, stopped a country from self-destructing.

To state that we were all moved by her message is to be reminded of the literal meaning of the word move.  Her strength and determination literally moved a country from a path of violence to a path of peace, changing the direction of history.  And sharing her story with others moves it beyond the borders of her native Liberia; her lessons defy geographical boundaries.  She calls us to activate right here within our own communities and reminds us that  peace is a process that has to start in your own home.

A few days after this empowering evening, we learned of the Nobel committee’s decision to award Leymah and two other women this year’s peace prize.  The electricity was back-the same spark that ran through my body when I first read her story was alive within me upon hearing the news.  In some ways, I felt that I too had won, that we had all won.  For her message to be recognized by an international body spoke mountains; it was a statement to the world: there will be no peace as long as there is inequality among the sexes.

Leymah received a standing ovation that night among the privileged few who filled the library auditorium.  It was a victory for peace, and a night I will never forget.  Here is the video of the evening.

“We learn best to listen to our own voices if we are listening at the same time to other women-whose stories, for all our differences, turn out, if we listen well, to be our stories also.” –Barbara Deming  


~ by maureenmoore on November 2, 2011.

5 Responses to “Mighty Be Her Powers”

  1. What a beautiful connection from the revolutionary to literary. Words, action and solidarity create revolution. Gorgeous reminder in wake of Occupy Together, a message of peaceful protest and enhanced conversation amongst community.

  2. Thank you for bringing this amazing interview into our homes. It is a serendipitous posting as I was just recently also paying tribute to Lehmah Gbowee the other day! What a wonderful woman to meet – Love it!

  3. Wow, I can’t wait to watch the video! Thank you Marueen for sharing all of your insights and amazing experiences; it is such great gift you give.

  4. awesome video! I love her; maybe my current dance with abstinence is more relevant than i realized?! 🙂 thanks MMM

    • She was the highlight of my year! A true inspiration! And check out the florescent pink! Time to wear more color!

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