LEYMAH: These warlords, who slept in bushes before and who had never known good lives, some of them were living their dream life at the peace talk. It was almost like they were on vacation.
ABUBAKAR: We were getting nowhere. And we were really reaching the end of the road. What can we do, really, to get these people to sign this peace agreement? They were still jockeying for more and more.
LEYMAH: There was a news flash again on Liberia, and a missile had landed inside the American embassy compound, where many displaced Liberians were staying. I just thought of my own children. And I was just raging inside.
LEYMAH: So I told Sugars, "Today is showdown. Send for more women." So I told the women, "Sit at the door, and loop arms, one arm within the other." And the next thing we heard on the overhead speaker was, "Oh my God. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the peace hall has been seized by General Leymah and her troops."
ABUBAKAR: They really came and locked us in, that nobody will come out until that peace agreement was signed. Even if it means staying there for days.
LEYMAH: And then the security guards came. "Who is the leader of this group?" I stood up and said, "Here am I." And they said, "You are obstructing justice." And that word, obstructing justice, was almost like when you took gas and just pour it on an open flame. I just went wild. I said, "Obstructing justice?" They said, "Yes, and we’re going to arrest you." I said, "Ok, I’m going to make it very, very easy for you to arrest me." I took off my hair tie.
SUGARS: It’s a curse in Africa to see the naked body of your mother.
LEYMAH: And they were looking at me. I said, "I’m going to strip naked."
SUGARS: Especially if she does it deliberately.
ABUBAKAR: Leymah had started stripping when I came out. She really was saying, "Look, you guys, you do this, or this is what we’re going to do."
Leymah: I will listen to you, but these people, these people have come here, ECOWAS gave them big beds. When they came they were all pale. No eating in the bush. Now they are wearing fine Ghanaian-milled textiles. And they are passing around, telling us, "We will kill your people. When we go back we will procreate." They won’t come outdoors. Today they will feel the hunger our people are feeling there.
LEYMAH: One of the warlords came to the door and tried to jump over the women. And the women push him back, and he went back as if he was about to kick their backs.
General Abubakar to Joe Wylie: Please, I beg you…
LEYMAH: And General Abubakar said to him, "Hey, I dare you, try it." He said, “Go back in there and sit down." "They can’t do this!" "I said go and sit down. If you were a real man, you wouldn’t be killing your people. But because you are not a real man, that’s why they will treat you like boys. Go back, and I dare anyone leave this hall until we’ve negotiated with these women."
LEYMAH: So we went, accompanied by the Ghanaian ambassador, accompanied by other people, and for 30 minutes it was just like tears and tears. Finally he said, "You have to let your women out of there." We said no.
LEYMAH: But ironically, the very security that were arresting me a few minutes earlier were the same security that came and said, "You have to send some women to the window because some of the delegates are jumping out of the window." So we told some of the women "Go and stand there."
LEYMAH: And then we said, "General, if we remove these women, we give these guys two weeks, or we will do it again. So we were just saying to them, “This peace talk has to be a real peace talk, not a circus."
LEYMAH at barricade: What we’ve done here today is to send out a signal to the world that we, the Liberian women in Ghana, at this conference, we are fed up with the war, and we are doing this to tell the world we are tired of fighting the killing of our people. We can do it again if we want to. And next time, we will be more than 1,000. There are over 25,000 women at the Buduburam refugee camp. There are over 10,000 Liberian women living in Accra. We can do it, and we will do it again.
LEYMAH: Afterwards, the mood of the entire peace talk changed from gay and happy to more sober and more serious.
LEYMAH: We decided to come home in our t-shirts. And it was, like, hugs from people that we didn’t know.
VAIBA: They were like saying to me, "Well, how did you manage?" I said, “With this T-shirt, I’m very powerful.”
LEYMAH: By the time we enter a community, children would start singing, "We want peace, no more war," until we just had this train of children following us all of the time. That was the moment for us.
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