Our journalist buddy Scott in Oklahoma sends this report of President Johnson-Sirleaf's visit to his state the other day:
While she was in Georgia, Microsoft pledged to help revamp Liberia's ICT infrastructure.
She spoke for about 45 minutes, the first 25 of which were devoted to giving sort of a broad view about the history and future prospects for the entire African continent. The rest of the time was devoted specifically to Liberia. She spoke of the history of her country's conflicts and how it was in pretty bad shape when she took office 10 months ago. She seemed to indicate that it's made a lot of progress but still has quite far to go.
There were a bunch of African dignitaries and political bigshots in the audience, including former Liberian VP Bishop Benny Warner, Edward Perkins -- the former US Ambassador to Liberia and Charles Minor, the current Liberian Ambassador to the US. There were also Liberian expats and people who had adopted Liberian children that traveled to OK from as far away as Houston and Tennessee to hear her speak. The place was also swarming with Secret Service Agents, and she was running late and didn't have much time to spend there, so although I was able to get pretty close to her and even had her sign a photograph for me, I was unfortunately unable to get in more than a couple of words or ask any questions. She did cover a lot of ground in her speech, though. Among the highlights from my notes:
Liberia needs to encourage expats who fled the country during the war to return to their homeland (though she didn't reference a specific plan or incentives).
The education of the female child needs to be a priority.
She has a vision for strengthening Liberia's relationship with the US and also promote entrepreneurship.
She intends to take major risks promoting a reform agenda and is determined to "build a new Liberia out of the ashes of the old."
Finally, Liberians have a passion and will to make their country "America's success story in Africa."
Here's the AP article on her visit: http://snipurl.com/wfw7
P.S. We're on vacation in South Africa 'til Oct 1, so the posting will be a little slow.