Tag Archives: 4 SWORDS

NY TIMES Book Review – This Child Will Be Great, by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Madame President

Published: May 15, 2009
In November 2005, Liberian women strapped their babies on their backs and flocked to voting tables all across their war-racked country to elect Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Africa’s first female president. It was a seminal moment in the political history of not just Liberia but the entire continent, where patriarchal rule has long dominated, leaving African women on the sidelines to fetch water, carry logs, tend farms, sell market wares and bear the children of their rapists, while their menfolk launched one pointless war after another.

Times Topics: Liberia

Now comes “This Child Will Be Great,” a memoir by Johnson Sirleaf, the heiress to this line of long-suffering yet rock-strong women. Her father was a lawyer, a member of the Gola tribe who — as part of a common practice in Liberia — had been reared by one of the elite families descended from the freed American slaves who settled the country in the early 19th century. Her mother was the mixed-race daughter of a German trader who abandoned his Liberian wife and child, and was never heard from again.

In the complex spaghetti of Liberian society, Johnson Sirleaf was considered by outsiders to be from the elite class. She attended one of the country’s best private schools, moved freely within the upper echelons of its social strata, reported religiously to church on Sundays and traveled to America for college. But her native Liberian parentage meant that she also knew the other side of life, the side where a vast majority of Liberians lived for the 150 years before the 1980 military coup that violently splintered the country, ending the rule of the American-Liberian class, and eventually led to 13 years of civil war.

Johnson Sirleaf tells the story of an old man who, within days of her birth, came to visit to pay his respects. The man looked at the baby and turned to her mother “with a strange expression,” telling her, “This child shall be great.” Johnson Sirleaf refers to the anecdote elsewhere in the book, usually with irony; her family would wryly remind her of it when, for instance, she was trapped in a physically abusive marriage, or when she fell into the latrine, or when she was locked up in prison by one of the various madmen who ran Liberia, with no idea whether she would be executed, raped or released.

This is the incredible story of a woman who spent her life talking tough to the lunatics surrounding her. It is an accessible walk through contemporary Liberian history, told by someone who was somehow always in the center of the political storm; during the 1980 coup, Johnson Sirleaf, as the country’s minister of finance, was spared, while 13 colleagues were executed on the beach. After another coup attempt — this one aimed at the military strongman Samuel Doe — Johnson Sirleaf was taken prisoner and threatened with execution by the paranoid Doe. When Charles Taylor invaded Liberia in 1989, Johnson Sirleaf met in the bush with this wide-eyed guerrilla, determining for herself, she says, that he was “not at all grounded in the very real consequences of the path upon which he had embarked.”

“This Child Will Be Great” will most likely not appeal to every­one. Johnson Sirleaf, whom I have interviewed, refrains from the sort of emotional detail that might allow her life’s story to resonate with readers uninterested in the “who’s up, who’s down” scales of Liberian political parties. She throws a lot of abbreviations out there, and even Liberians may have trouble with some of them.

But Johnson Sirleaf admirably conveys the hopelessness of the everyday Liberian who still worships — futilely, it turns out — the United States, waiting for the day when America sweeps in to rescue a country founded by Americans. That day never comes, as “This Child Will Be Great” demonstrates again and again. But perhaps, in electing this no-nonsense, practical technocrat as the first woman to be their president, Liberians are finally ready to make a stab at trying to rescue themselves.

Helene Cooper, the White House correspondent for The Times, is the author of “The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood.”  via nytimes.com

This goes in the must read must post Woman Warrior collection!

Dr Who’s Companions POST SEASON FINALE


Donna Noble: you are now 1 SWORD of awful. You had me going there. For a while, I was thinking 4 SWORDS… maybe this is it, even 5 !!!! then…

Catherine Tate: you have 4 SWORDS of awesome for your rivetingly versatile performance as Donna Noble. You were BATHETIC at the end and became horribly stupidly trivial leaving me in tears. You reminded me of Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Rose Tyler: I’d retract your SWORD AWARD for that horrible last scene, where you find true love with the part human doctor but then, it’s HIS fault. You know who!

Russell T Davies! Wow, I bet the swords have been out for you! I daren’t read the forums. I really love your writing but why can’t you stretch yourself a little bit. Go on and try out more different gender roles.

I guess The Doctor is so lovingly constructed as tragic father figure (western hero) that any other strong figure can not survive in the same series. That’s why I say, “Hey, Russell, try a woman next time! AS THE DOCTOR!

Dr Who’s Companions and the SWORD AWARDS

NOTE – First up is my PRE-SEASON FINALE POST which wasn’t finished before Sunday night. There’s a POST SEASON FINALE follow up!

Firstly, the fact that the women on Dr Who are all companions and that Dr Who has never been a woman for all of his vaunted alien regenerative body shifting abilities automatically disqualifies ANY of them from getting 4 SWORDS.

If Dr Who becomes a woman though, she’s a fair chance at 4 or even 5 SWORDS of AWESOME WOMAN WARRIORNESS!

Secondly, Billie Piper with a gun bigger than her entire torso. PUHLEASE! She is so 1 SWORD of awkward. She is BIG CAR LITTLE DICK!

Now, some other companions have been more Emma Peel and less Agent 99, but I’m still waiting for serious SWORDS! There are a bucket load of companions on wikipedia and I’m going to enjoy revisiting old episodes in my new quest to rate the companions.

For now:

River Song: 3 SWORDS – only we don’t really know if you’re a companion yet.
Sarah Jane Smith: 3 SWORDS – for sheer persistence and fun.
Sara Kingdom: 3 SWORDS – only you got killed off straightaway – such is the fate of many of the strong women companions it seems!

Donna Noble: 2 SWORDS – when you’re good, you’re great but you’re such a temp warrior.
Martha Jones: 2 SWORDS – you were a bit whiny to start but the uniform suits you.

Astrid Peth: 1 SWORD – worth a mention even if only a canary sized mini companion.
Rose Tyler: 1 SWORD – as said above, you are a bit BCLD !

All I can say though, is thank heavens for the taboo against kissing in the tardis!

4 SWORDS for freaking awesome surfer plus – Layne Beachley

There’s a lot in the paper today about Layne Beachley. She is a phenomenal surfer. Her personal life has not been easy but she’s won 7 straight world titles. Perhaps her resilience has helped. You need to have some powerful focus AND work like a bitch to do that.

While Layne is not surfing or writing or whatever else she does (photo from Aquabumps – Coogee 2004), she has launched the Aim for the Stars foundation.  My eldest daughter applied for support when she was competing internationally without any sponsorship and we were really impressed.

“Aim for the Stars offers moral and financial support to all of you who have the passion and desire to accomplish your goals and who aren’t afraid to ask for help along the way. So take a wander through the site and find out how you can become a part of this fantastic initiative. “

As far as I know, Layne is one of the few women who has been able to put money where her heart is and open doors for other aspiring young women. Not only in sports but across arts and the community.

I hope you get another world title or two, Layne, but you rate an amazing 4 SWORDS here regardless. Maybe you can give me some pointers in the surf one day, cause I surely need some. Some paddling muscles would be handy too.

Are you deliberately barren?

This blog author, Another Outspoken Female, is one of my favourite woman warriors. I don’t know who she is but she gets 4 SWORDS on my newly invented scale of awesomest women warriors!

Go to Deliberately Barren or email her at otherrants at gmail dot com.

invitation to join deliberately barren

I’ve hidden this blog away like a treasure to be explored on a rainy day.

That day has now come (though there is more wind than rain) and I am opening deliberately barren to become a collaborative blog with any other women who are child-free, child-less, infertile or just didn’t quite get around to having children, to join in.

The title is in honour of Australia’s first female deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, jibe from the enlightened Mr Heffernan – stating she was unfit for leadership because she was ”deliberately barren”.

This forum is open to be read by all – men, women, parents, step-parents, bereaved parents – with contributions by women who fall into the category of barren whether through choice or circumstances, deliberately or not. There is the opportunity to celebrate, grieve, laugh, rant, raise awareness and much more. But most of all, it is time for us to come out of the shadows.
blog it