Turtle and Spider

Anansi
Anansi

One day Anansi the spider picked some very fat and tasty yams from his garden. He baked them with much care and they came out smelling quite delicious. He could not wait to sit down and eat them.

Just then there was a knock at his door. It was Turtle, who had been traveling all day and was very tired and hungry.

Hello, Anansi,” said Turtle. “I have been walking for so long, and I smelled the most delicious yams I’ve ever smelled. Would you be so kind as to share your meal with me?

Turtle
Turtle

Anansi could not refuse, as it was the custom in his country to share your meal with visitors at mealtime. But he was not very happy, for Anansi was a little too greedy and wanted the delicious yams all to himself.

So Anansi thought to himself and came up with a scheme.

Please do come in, Turtle. I would be honored to have you as my guest this evening. Sit down, have a chair and help yourself.

Turtle came inside and sat down, but just as he reached for a yam, Anansi yelled, “Turtle, don’t you know better than to come to the table with dirty hands?

Turtle looked down at his hands and saw that they were filthy. He had been crawling all day and had not had a chance to clean up.

Turtle washing his feet

Turtle got up and went to the river to clean his feet. He walked all the way back up to the house and Anansi had already begun to eat.

I didn’t want these tasty yams to get cold, so I had to begin,” said Anansi. “But please do join me now, Turtle.”

Turtle sat down again and reached for a yam, but again Anansi yelled at him.

Turtle, did you not hear me before? It is not polite to come to the table with dirty hands!

He looked down and saw that his clean hands had turned dirty once more, since he had to crawl on them to get back to the house.

So he walked down to the river once more to wash himself off. And when he returned this time, he was careful to walk on the grass so his hands would stay clean.

Yellow yam… mmmmhhh tasty!!!

But by the time he sat down at the table, Anansi had finished up the last bit of the tasty yams and not so much as a morsel was left.

Turtle looked at Anansi for a moment and then said, “Thank you for sharing your meal with me. If you ever find yourself near my house, please let me return the favor.” And then he slowly walked out the door and continued on his way.

The days went by and Anansi thought more and more of that meal that Turtle had offered. He got more and more interested in a free dinner and finally could not stand it anymore. He set off one day to find Turtle’s house.

He found Turtle sunning himself on a river bank just around dinner time.

Turtle looked up and saw him and said, “Hello, Anansi, have you come to share evening meal with me?

Oh yes, yes!” said Anansi, who was growing hungrier and hungrier by the minute.

Turtle went underwater to his house to set up the dinner table for the two of them. Soon he came back to the bank and said, “Your place is waiting and the food is ready. Please join me, Anansi.

And then he dived underwater and began to slowly eat his meal.

Anansi
Anansi floating unable to get underwater

Anansi jumped into the water, but could not get down to the bottom of the river. He tried to swim down, but he was so light that he kept popping back up to the surface.

He tried diving. He tried belly flops. He tried a running jump, but nothing would help him get down to the river bottom.

In the meantime, Turtle was slowly eating his meal.

Anansi was not about to give up a free meal, and was running around wondering what he would do. Finally he had an idea. He started grabbing stones and rocks and stuffed them into his jacket pockets.

Now when he jumped into the water he sank right down to the bottom and was able to take his place at the table.

The table was so beautiful and full of delicious foods. Anansi could hardly believe how many tasty foods were before him and could not wait to start his meal.

But just as he reached for the first morsel, Turtle stopped eating and spoke. “In my country, we do not wear our jackets to the table.” Anansi noticed that Turtle had removed his own jacket before sitting down.

Anansi started to remove his jacket, and as soon as it was off of his shoulders, he went zooming back up to the surface and popped out onto the river bank.

He stuck his head down into the water and saw Turtle slowly enjoying that wonderful banquet.

When you try to outsmart someone, you may find that you’re the one outsmarted.

Madam President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Iron Lady
Iron Lady: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

There is a say which often goes as such: “When things are so bad that they are irreparable, men leave the power to women or minorities!” (Just look at the USA!) Well… that’s what they will definitely say about Liberia, a country which had been in war for so many years and decades, that the system was so broken down, the country was a mess, no government, no law, no nothing!

Mme President
President of Liberia: Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

And then was elected Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf! The first African female head of state! We even beat the USA, we got our woman in power! Yes… here comes the Iron lady of Africa. Few words will express what the inauguration of Mrs Sirleaf meant to me, and thousands of other girls and women across the continent. Truth be told, very few of us ever thought possible the day a woman would be president on our continent. Very few of us thought possible an actual country ruled by a woman, in Africa….! When I was young, I had read about Nzingha the queen of Angola, Hatshepsut the She-pharaoh of Egypt, Beatrice of Congo, Empress Zewditu of Ethiopia… to name just a few; but these emblematic African female leaders seemed so far removed from me, buried in the sands of the past, that as a young African woman my dreams to see a charismatic woman leader in the modern era seemed to be just that… a dream (I still wanted my dream to become a reality)!

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Don't mess with my president!

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is an achieved economist who served as minister of finance of Liberia in the late 70’s. She once supported Charles Taylor against the bloody government of Samuel Doe… but later on criticized him once she realized he was perpetrating bloody crimes in Liberia as well. After Samuel Doe’s coup in 1980, she went into exile in Kenya where she worked for Citibank as director. She returned to Liberia to run against Doe, but was sentenced to 10 years in jail, and was again forced into exile. She later repeated the scenario in 1997 when she ran against Charles Taylor, but lost. She finally won the elections in 2005 to be the first elected female head of state of Liberia, and Africa. Hers is a story of perseverance, endurance, determination, courage, hard work, and above all love for her country. What brought her back so many times to Liberia? Lord only knows! What made her want to challenge Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor, Prince Johnson, etc…? The good Lord only knows! One thing is sure, this is definitely an Iron Lady!

Liberia
Liberia

The video you will see below is a documentary on her first year in power entitled Madam President! It highlights her struggles and victories. How do you re-build a country where there are no institutions? where there are children soldiers? where there is no law? and where a claim to land means nothing after years of war! How do you do that? Well… watch Madam president! surround yourself with the best minds, and some strong women as well! I tell you… Watch and raise your hat to Mrs. President! Yeah… that’s right! Our very first woman president!

To find out more, check out Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Wikipedia, read her book “This Child Will Be Great“. Laura Bush wrote a piece on her in Time Magazine after she and Condoleezza Rice attended Sirleaf’s inauguration. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 by president Bush. Check out Follow the Leader to learn more about the people who made the documentary, and this article by BBC.


Madame La Présidente

Check out the rest: Madam president Part 2 and Madam president Part 3