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Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf waves following a meeting with ECOWAS delegates, Banjul, Gambia, Dec. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Sylvain Cherkaoui).

After Sirleaf, What Kind of Change Does Liberia Need?

Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was born into a native Liberian family, meaning her parents were not descendants of the freed American slaves who established the country in the mid-19th century. As a girl, her mother was sent to work in the home of one of these Americo-Liberian families, who are also known as Congo people.

Yet in “Madame President,” a biography released earlier this year, the New York Times reporter Helene Cooper notes that throughout her life, Sirleaf has run in the circles of the Congo elite while often being mistaken for one herself. After studying in the U.S., she served as a Cabinet minister in the last Congo-dominated government that ruled before a coup in 1980 ushered in more than two decades of instability and conflict. And like many elites, she spent most of the war years outside the country. ...

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