Liberian Lysistrata

 - Andy Danyo Kubis

In the Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophenes, the title character stages a sex strike to encourage the men to negotiate a peace agreement and end the Peloponnesian War. The play was originally performed in 411 B.C., but a version of it played out in Liberia a few years ago. Liberia’s Lysistrata is an amazing woman named Leymah Gbowee, one of the guests on today’s program. Gbowee organized her countrywomen into a peace movement, armed only with white t-shirts and strong convictions.  The sex strike was just one of many non-violent tactics the women used to get peace talks going. And it worked! The dictator Charles Taylor is now out, the warlords have largely been forced out, and Liberia is now led by Africa’s first woman head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. 

Gbowee’s story  — and the story of thousands of other Liberian women — is told in a wonderful documentary called Pray the Devil Back to Hell. It’s directed by Abigail Disney, who joins Gbowee on the program today.  There’s information on how to see the film at this link. And you can see Leyman Gbowee on the Colbert Report here.