Africa's First Female President Set New Course for Liberia. But What about for Its Women? (Christian Science Monitor)

November 4, 2017 Monrovia, Liberia—Update: This story was updated at 12:10 p.m., Nov. 6., after Liberia’s Supreme Court halted the runoff election.

Beside a busy strip of road near the downtown of Liberia’s capital city, a tall mural tells the story of the country’s recent history – or at least, someone’s version of it.

“MA ELLEN,” it says in the familiar language Liberians often use to describe their president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “THANKS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND FOR THE PEACE.”

Below the words are a portrait of President Sirleaf, her face creased by smile lines, and a series of idyllic scenes – a lush university campus, a tidy hospital, a bridge flanked by palm trees.

To many who have watched Sirleaf’s career from afar, this is a neat summary of her legacy…But for Liberians, who will soon elect her successor, Ma Ellen’s legacy is far less settled…

“By the end of the war, women had realized they could be political beings, and some men had too,” says Robtel Neajai Pailey, a Liberian political analyst who also worked for Sirleaf during her first term and recently co-authored with Ms. Williams an opinion piece on the legacy of her presidency. “It’s no coincidence that Sirleaf was able to ride this wave of renewed autonomy.”

Ex-soccer Star 'King George' Nears Goal of Liberia Presidency (Reuters)

MONROVIA (Reuters) - George Weah has been here before: on the goal line of the Liberian presidency, one run-off vote from victory. Unlike in 2005, however, his support is much wider and many expect him at last to succeed...

“Weah's populism and inability to articulate a coherent platform ... are deeply concerning,” said Liberian political analyst Robtel Neajai Pailey in a recent opinion piece for Liberian website The Bush Chicken.

“Success at football does not translate into success in the presidency of a traumatized, poorly managed, post-war nation.”

As Johnson Sirleaf Exits, Liberians Thankful for Peace, Excited for Change (Reuters)

MONROVIA (Reuters) - After a dozen years of recovery under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping bring peace after civil war turned her country into a wasteland, Liberians are hopeful about their first democratic power transfer for 73 years.

Twenty candidates are standing to replace Johnson Sirleaf in a first round on Tuesday. With nobody likely to win a majority outright, the top two are expected to face each other in a run-off in around a month. While the election campaign has been rambunctious, it has been mainly peaceful so far, and most expectations are that it will come off without bloodshed...

“High level corruption has been a slap in the face for Liberians, most of whom live in abject poverty,” said Liberian political analyst Robtel Neajai Pailey who also criticized what she described as “hero worship” of Johnson Sirleaf.

With Sirleaf, Liberia's Glass Ceiling Cracked but Failed to Shatter (Agence France-Presse)

Monrovia (AFP) - Liberia's female politicians profess near-universal respect for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as she steps down after 12 years as president -- but many also say the glass ceiling that Africa's first female leader cracked remains firmly in place...


Two Liberian feminists have caused a stir by asserting in international media that Sirleaf has "failed" women in the political realm, potentially tarring her legacy.

"I think President Sirleaf is anti-feminist when it comes to politics," Robtel Neajai Pailey, who co-authored a widely shared article with activist Korto Reeves Williams, told AFP.

She accuses Sirleaf of indifference to a call by Liberia's Women's Legislative Caucus for women to occupy 30 percent of political party leadership positions in 2010.

Pailey believes women fall behind in gaining affiliation with larger political parties and often lack their own funding, unlike some of this year's millionaire male candidates.

Weekend Programme July 16, 2017 Highlights (BBC World Service)

'Soul of a Nation' is the title of a big new art show at Tate Modern in London. It features 160 works by black American artists from the two decades beginning in 1963 -- years of huge social change in America. Our arts correspondent, Vincent Dowd, speaks to the show's curators. And Iranian football stars call on government to overturn ban on women in stadiums.

Presenter Julian Worricker discusses these stories with guests: Rami Khouri and Robtel Neajai Pailey.

Dr. Robtel Neajai Pailey Goes to AfDB (Daily Observer)

Young Liberian scholar Robtel Neajai Pailey has been selected as one of three successful candidates for the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) Leadership Fellows. Dr. Pailey was one of three announced by the Foundation on Tuesday, with the other two hailing from Botswana and Senegal. They were successful out of over 2,000 candidates who applied for the latest edition of the Fellowship.


Why Shark's Ice Cream Wants To Put Nice Cream Out Of Business (National Public Radio)

Robtel Neajai Pailey, a Liberian academic based at the University of Oxford, acknowledges that the Lebanese community has contributed to Liberia's economy, but she sympathizes with Harding.

"The bottom line is we don't have the luxury of neglecting Liberian small- to medium-sized enterprises. I think if we were a middle-income country that hadn't had a war for 14 years we could say, 'Yes, let's open up and let the market take its course,' " she says. "But even countries that preach laissez-faire economics protect certain industries and give subsidies to their farmers."

Dealing with Autocratic Regimes in Africa (Deutsche Welle)

Autocratic or authoritarian regimes, dictatorships, have been a dominant form of governance in Africa for many years. In the second decade of the 21st century, one concern is that they may hinder the attainment of one of the UN's crucial Sustainable Development Goals.

The growth in the number of migrants from Africa poses a challenge outside the continent. Africa must help resolve this challenge by implementing universally acceptable standards of democratic governance. But Robtel Neajai Pailey, a senior researcher from Liberia at Oxford University, rejects the notion of universal standards of democracy. "There are different strands of democracy so it depends on how you define democracy and who is defining it,” she told DW.

Waar is 'Afrika' in Afrikaanse Studies? (OneWorld Netherlands)

Interview – De Universiteit van Leiden organiseerde onlangs een seminar waarin verschillende wetenschappers en studenten spraken over het tekort aan Afrikaanse wetenschappers in studies over Afrika. Pailey, senior onderzoeker aan de Universiteit van Oxford, was één van de sprekers. Aan OneWorld vertelt zij over haar eigen ervaringen.

A Child's Eye View of Corruption (Oxford Development Matters)

Corruption has become the real stuff of public discourse and everyday practice in many African societies, implicating both citizens and subjects, both public and private life...It is against this backdrop that a new children’s storybook Gbagba, published by One Moore Book in 2013 and authored by Liberian academic and activist Robtel Neajai Pailey, is very timely.

This Children’s Book Is Starting a National Conversation about Corruption in Liberia (Public Radio International)

Everyday graft and bribe-taking can make it hard to avoid getting cynical — especially in a place still recovering from civil war and the Ebola epidemic. But Liberian author and academic Robtel Neajai Pailey has turned to the least cynical group to take a look at corruption: children.