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Mighty Be Our Powers

How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War

By Leymah Gbowee with Carol Mithers
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Mighty Be Our Powers by Leymah Gbowee with Carol Mithers

Mighty Be Our Powers (2011) tells the inspirational story of Leymah Gbowee, a woman who fought for peace after years of civil war had devastated her country, Liberia. As a mother who believed her bright future had been snatched away from her, Gbowee brought together a powerful group of women who were fed up with the violence. Their peaceful protests changed the course of history, and their story deserves to be heard by anyone who’s ever lost hope.

Key idea 1 of 9

Leymah Gbowee’s pleasant life and bright future were interrupted when war broke out in Liberia.

The author, Leymah Gbowee, recalls being excited and happy at her high school graduation party. She was seventeen at the time, and she lived with her family in the beautiful African city of Monrovia, Liberia.

When Gbowee finished high school, she had a comfortable family life and a bright future. With her excellent grades, she looked forward to university, where she would study biology and chemistry – all in preparation for becoming a doctor.

Gbowee’s father had a steady job as a US Embassy technician, and her mother worked at a drugstore. With their combined salaries, the family could afford to send Gbowee and her three sisters to the best schools in Monrovia.

They didn’t live a life of luxury, but they had their own house, car, TVs and a modern kitchen. And they were part of a close community that made sure no one went homeless or hungry.

But, when war broke out in Liberia, all of this came crumbling down in a matter of months.

It all started in March of 1990, just as Gbowee’s graduation was underway.

The conflict surrounded the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), a group of armed rebels under the command of Charles Taylor. The NPFL entered northern Liberia to overthrow Samuel Doe, Liberia’s president, and from the beginning, their sights were set on Monrovia, the nation’s capital.

Samuel Doe was the first Liberian president who wasn’t part of the land-owning elites. Nonetheless, he still proved to be corrupt and violent, and during his rule, he was focused on tribal identity. He awarded the most powerful positions in his government to fellow Krahns, an ethnic group that excluded the Gio and Mano people.

Opposition against President Doe grew and eventually united behind Charles Taylor and the NPFL. But Taylor’s rebels weren't alone. Another rebel group led by former NPFL commander Prince Yormie Johnson was also moving toward the nation’s capital.

With these two groups fighting both the government and each other, the country exploded into chaos. In a matter of weeks, soldiers were holding executions in the streets, electricity stopped working and food became scarce.

Suddenly, Gbowee’s future was uncertain.

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