Cooper writes this as her first sentence in her biography of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was born in 1938. She writes this to help readers outside the country understand how extraordinary it is that a Liberian woman became part of the governing inner circle. She had a successful career in the world of international finance, and then was sworn in as president of a country emerging from a civil war.
In October of 2017, Liberians will return to the ballot box to choose their second democratically elected leader since the end of the civil war.
If the publicity around Helene Cooper’s new book is a reliable indicator, one would be hard pressed to expect a biography that does anything but draw on the tried and true single story that paints Liberia as a land torn by violence, where accountability is a luxury, and in which there is little to celebrate except the novelty of its female chief executive.
A review of Helene Cooper’s “The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood.”