10 years ago today, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as Liberia’s new president, becoming Africa’s first female elected head of state. The election of Africa’s “Iron Lady” marked the beginning of the nation’s success story, in the wake of fourteen years of brutal civil conflict. (2006)
Sirleaf was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with two other African women recognized “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
Her autobiography, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa’s First Woman President, tells the tale of her childhood, her experiences with abuse, imprisonment, and exile, and later, her rise to power. She studied in the United States and worked as an international bank executive, but became a social reformer in her homeland who fought the oppression of dictators.
MORE Good News on this Date:
- Superman was first published as a daily newspaper comic strip (1939)
- The Cavern Club opened in Liverpool, and later became home to the Beatles who appeared at the club 292 times (1957)
- Two manned Soviet Soyuz spaceships became the first vehicles to dock in space and transfer personnel (1969)
- Buckminster Fuller was awarded the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects (1970)
- El Salvador signed a pact in Mexico City with rebel leaders ending 12 years of civil war that had killed at 75,000 people (1992)
- Romanian university lecturer and novelist Adriana Iliescu gave birth at age 66, the oldest woman ever to do so (2005)
- Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as Liberia’s new president, becoming Africa’s first female elected head of state, and marking the beginning of the country’s post-conflict success story (2006)
- Sen. Barack Obama from Illinois, launched his successful bid for the White House (2007)
- Nepal declared January 16 to be a public holiday to celebrate the country overcoming a decade of conflict with Maoist rebels who now work together with women and working-class representatives in a parliament (2007)
- Nepal added a third gender to its national census form to accommodate transgender citizens (2011)
And, on this date in 1605, Book One of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes was published in Madrid. An insane nobleman sets out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs, and bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire.
Illustration of Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863, by Gustave Doré