Talk about Strategic Planning!


Minorities living under the power of arrogance always have had to out-clever those in power to survive, and, in some cases, thrive. For example, When Spain controlled Southern Italy, taxes were determined by the kind and size of the houses of the poor farmers. Whenever the farmers heard that the tax assessor was in the area, they dismantled their stone houses, bit by bit, leaving a pile of stones while families slept in the fields for the tax assessor to see. It worked for a few generations.


The best modern day example of out maneuvering done by the relatively powerless against the arrogance of the powerful occurred in Liberia, Africa in 2005. At that time, Liberian women elected Ellen Johnson Sirleaf president of the country.


After 15 years of civil war under the leadership of men, three determined women decided it was time for a change, Ms. Gayflor, Ms. Freeman and MS. Jabateh. Discovering that only 15% of women eligible to vote were registered, these women bought bull-horns, went out into the countryside to encourage women to vote. They gave out T-shirts and bags of water. Most importantly, they went into the market places where women tended their stalls and their babies and sent sitters to take their places so that they could register and/or vote. Their registration strategy was successful but the best was yet to come.


The field running for president of Liberia consisted of 22 men and one woman. The winner had to get 50% of the vote, not possible with so many candidates. The two receiving the most votes, a soccer player and a grandmother were the candidates in the run-off election. Here the story becomes a “mind blower”.


Near the voting stations, women set up stalls where they gave a glass of beer to any man who would give them his voting ID. Many young men did not realize that they would need them to vote again. At the polling stations, the lines were long and discouraging. Those in charge allowed pregnant women and those carrying small children to go to the front of the line. Those in charge never seemed to realize that they were seeing the same babies over and over again as women passed the children from one to another! Mrs. Sirleaf won, 59.4% to 40.6%.


To get the whole story, look for Helen Cooper’s Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf coming out shortly.








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