Gracing Woman Crush Wednesday today is the first elected female head of state in Africa, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson.
Background and Education
Ellen Johnson was born on October 29, 1938 in Monrovia to Gola father and Kru-German mother. She was educated at the College of West Africa before moving to Madison Business College and later, Havard University in the United States.
Work and Appointments
She returned to Liberia after graduating to work in William Tolberts’ government as Deputy Minister of Finance from 1971 to 1974 and later went to work in the Caribbean and Latin America.
She returned again to Liberia to work as Deputy Minister of Finance in 1979 for the late President Tolbert before he was executed in a coup d’etat by Samuel Doe in 1980. Sirleaf went back the United States, where she worked for Citi Bank and the Equator Bank.
Ellen returned after five years and went into politics. She ran for the 1997 presidential election, finishing as a runner up to eventual winner Charles Taylor.
She later became the first African female president when she won the 2005 presidential election, becoming the 24th President of Liberia. She was re-elected in 2011.
In 2016, she was elected Chairperson of the Economical Community of West African States, making her the first woman to hold the position since it was created.
Achievements and Awards
In 2006, Ellen Johnson became the recipient of ‘Common Ground Award’ and the ‘Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger’. In the same year, she received the ‘David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award’.
In 2007, Ellen Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the United States.
In 2010, Ellen Johnson was presented with the ‘Friend of the Media in Africa Award’ by The African Editor’s Union.
In 2011, Ellen Johnson was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen. The three women were recognized for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.
In 2012, she received the ‘Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development’. The same year, she was awarded France’s highest award and public distinction, the Grand Croix of the Légion d’Honneur.
Ellen Johnson was conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on 12th September 2013.
In 2016, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson was listed as the 83rd-most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.
She has received honorary doctorates from various prestigious universities including ‘Indiana University’, ‘Brown University’, ‘Harvard University’, and ‘Yale University’.
Ellen Sirleaf Johnson revived national hope by strengthening the institutions of national security, leading the revitalization of the national economy, and restoring Liberia’s international reputation and credibility.
Investec Art Fair Showcases Talents In South Africa
Investec Cape Town Art Fair in South Africa, has showcased the best of African contemporary art at this year’s event, creating an opportunity for many emerging African artists to showcase their work to galleries from around the world.
The Investec Cape Town Art Fair, displayed, some of the finest examples of African contemporary art in all its forms with a vibrancy and diversity that transcends the canvas, attracting some of the most in-demand artists from the African continent.
Cape town’s art scene is constantly evolving and that was quite evident at the fair.
This event also provided an ideal platform for international buyers, who were intent on finding their next masterpieces, from the African continent. Many of them were looking at East Africa, with particular focus on Kenyan artists’ rich and multi-layered works.
Young Senegalese Reinvigorate Furniture-Making Industry
A young man in Senegal has shown some fine craftsmanship to reinvigorate the furniture-making industry by making use of oil drums and used metal as raw materials to develop new models of furniture such as dining tables, cabinets and even living room furniture at his workshop. To achieve the highly conventional product, he transforms metal and practices the art of upholstery.
Babacar Thiam, an ambitious and passionate young Senegalese man, is seeking to revolutionize the industry with a new outlook by using metals as raw materials.
Each week, Thiam invents new models for his clients, most of whom are attracted by the originality of the concept he uses to create the products.
Thiam`s dedication and desire for perfection is a reflection of the beauty of his furniture. To meet the strong demand of his growing customers, he hopes to one day put his concept on larger market and even build his own empire.
South Africa Launches Campaign To Combat Elephant Poaching
The South African National Parks Organization has launched a project in Phalaborwa in Limpopo province to combat elephant poaching in Kruger national park. Project ivory serves to mobilize resources for the fight against elephant poaching. The honorary rangers and corporate donors have provided the project with a satellite aerial base in Phalaborwa to ensure rangers can respond quicker to elephant poaching incidents.
Kruger national park has experienced an increase in elephant poaching over the past few years, which increased from two elephants in 2014 to 71 in 2018. There are 19,000 elephants in the Kruger national park.
According to these rangers, while elephants are not necessarily in danger of going extinct from poaching, they do not want to let the situation deteriorate to a point where elephant poaching is as big a problem as rhino poaching. Therefore, the decision to put measures in place to prevent this now.
The initiative will also be implemented in other parks. Both government and animal rights activists agree that there’s need for ongoing collaboration among interested parties and civil society to stop the damage being done to wildlife.
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