When last we spoke, things were rough here at Amanda HQ. I was mourning the loss of Charles Tilly, and you were saying to yourselves “wow, this Tilly dude sounds great! I can’t believe I didn’t know about this until he was already dead! Bummer“
But then in an unexpected turn of events, my law firm came to the rescue! We are the pro bono counsel to the International Crisis Group, who happened to be having their awards luncheon last week. And I got to go. And let me tell you, it was amazing. First of all, ICG had created a 30 minute video about how awesome they themselves were. In it, a series of American dignitaries (Bill Clinton, Samantha Power, Colin Powell and their ilk) responded to questions like “Why is the International Crisis Group So Awesome?” “How has that awesomeness helped you in your life as an Important Person?” “Could you tell us some anecdotes of a time when the Crisis Group was more awesome than you?” “Do you feel like a moron every time you don’t take our advice?”
So that was pretty quality.
The usual human rights celebutantes were there: Samantha Power, George Soros, Gareth Evans, Martti Ahtisaari. Now, let me preface this by saying that there aren’t many people out there who impress me. I’m pretty easygoing as girl reporters go. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great if you want to, say, be President of Finland and then sort out Kosovo. Follow your dreams, that’s what I say! But that doesn’t meant that I’d necessarily be willing to hang out with you. Or that I approve of the way in which you sorted out Kosovo. *cough cough bad precedent cough cough.*
But: on this particular occasion, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was in the house!
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf impresses me. She is badass. I would be impressed by her even if she was not the President of Liberia (though I predict that Liberia, under her leadership, is going to be an example of how good a bad situation can become.) I like her style.
And I’m even more impressed now, because after receiving her award, she had a little chat onstage with George Soros, and unilaterally brought up the fact that it’s time for African leaders to sack up and regulate on Mugabe. (With diplomacy, not sticks. I think.) And I thought that was very inspiring, not only because I agree with her, but because it gave me a glimmer of hope that we can maybe, finally, move away from Ali G politics when it comes to African crises. (For the uncultured among you, Ali G responds to most criticism with “Is it because I is black?” He’s played by an extremely white Orthodox Jew, so when he says that, it’s funny. It’s less funny when Mugabe does it, because in his case the answer is “no, it’s because you had a perfectly good country and then reduced it to literal and metaphorical rubble.”) President Sirleaf bucks the trend in so many wonderful ways: her career, her gender, her dignity. And the Mugabes of this world can whine about how she must be a puppet of the West, but you know what? Even if that were true, we should all have such puppets. Liberia, under Sirleaf’s leadership, is making progress towards becoming the kind of country that Zimbabwe was 15 years ago. Zimbabwe, under Mugabe, is becoming the kind of place that Liberia was 5 years ago.
Oh, and the food was bad, but the gift bags rocked. Thank you, Law Firm, for bringing joy back into my life.