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The Unspeakable Evil: Why Riva’s Action About Liberia Gave Me Belly Ache

The president of my country, Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is a rich and powerful woman and a Liberian citizen. Ms. Riva Levinson, I am made to understand, is a zealous public relations expert, a U.S. citizen, and a relatively rich and influential woman.  I am a poor university student, a young lady (woman) and a Liberian.

As a Liberian, I share more things in common with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf than K. Riva Levinson does. Besides, I should be able to look up to President Sirleaf as a role model, and when she became president, it was a moment of pride, hope, and determination to me because of the unique similarities we share.

K. Riva Levinson and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at a book launch in Washington, DC

President Sirleaf is not the president of the United States. Riva Levinson is not a Liberian citizen. Unlike me and my family, Riva may have grown up with opportunities and continues to have opportunities because the US government and American leaders––members of Congress and presidents, past and present–– in that great country have provided opportunities that laid the foundations for Riva not to have experienced poverty and its associated ills.

In Liberia, many young women have lost hope––we are not proud of the way we are living simply because our government and leaders have failed to deliver on promises made to us, especially, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. With this failure comes many social tendencies that have and continue to destroy our nation.

Our parents are unemployed; our brothers are forced to engage in criminal activities such as armed robbery, and some of us are forced to engage in passive and indirect prostitution.  In the midst of these things, I don’t see how I can praise our leaders, including Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, by calling them “heroes.”

I repeat, US citizen Riva Levinson is not a Liberian so it bothers me when she travels around the world on Liberian taxpayers’ money just to describe and classify President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as a “hero.” It would be reckless for me as a Liberian, living in Liberia, to call President Donald J. Trump, Sr. a ‘hero’ when Americans do not see him as one.

As a student of economics and business, I understand the American model of capitalism, but a faceless capitalist society is evil. That’s the reason, “Choosing the Hero: My Improbable Journey and the Rise of Africa’s First Woman President” and its unceasing marketing strategy are counterproductive to the values of the United States and humanity.

What is Riva’s interest? What does she gain from this? What is Riva’s role in Liberia? What does Liberia mean to Riva?  How will the young girls, women and the elderly in the United States feel when a Liberian public relations agent paid with their country’s taxpayers’ funds were to call Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, or even Trump a ‘hero’ while they lack access to basic social services, healthcare, and quality education? How will they feel about the raping of young girls and women? Or, when young girls and women are forced to engage in sex acts just so they and their family will survive?  How will American girls and women feel under a female president whose administration changes sexual violence laws to benefit rich and powerful men?

These are not mere words, they are facts published by international organizations including the United Nations, IMF, World Bank as well as news organizations such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian and Financial Times of London.

Madam Riva, how do you call someone a ‘hero’ when you don’t live in the theater (Liberia) where the heroic acts may have occurred when those who live there say otherwise?  What is heroic about Liberian women making someone, with an insatiable taste for power and who spent over 50 years craving for such power at the expense of their people, a president?

Riva’s purported book sells for $19.99 and she is using the made-up stature of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to make money while young girls and poor women throughout Liberia struggle to live in a country run by a woman who is also a benefactor of Riva’s media enterprise in Washington, DC.

There is something inherently wrong with this picture—the relationship between President Sirleaf and her media strategist, K. Riva Levinson. Why are these two women so indifferent to the struggles of poor girls and vulnerable women in Liberia?

The questions posed in this write-up are important because each time I review my LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media pages and see an American citizen, K. Riva Levinson, portraying President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as a ‘saint’ as well as making statements that are not accurate – it hurts!

Riva! Our president is a human being. She knows that and we know that, as well.  Your action distorts the good thoughts and images us, young Liberians, have of the United States and of Americans that the U.S and Americans do not support wrong when they know it is wrong. We also know that the US and Americans uphold human values, respect and support education for both boys and girls, and champion a society where everyone excels to their human potential.

There is something inherently wrong with this picture—the relationship between President Sirleaf and her media strategist, Riva Levinson. Why will two women be so indifferent to the struggles of poor Liberian girls and vulnerable women in such a manner? 

We love and respect our president. We also know our president better than anyone, including you. But she is not a saint or an angel as you want the world to believe. So please stop making her as such because of financial interests and benefits you have accrued and continue to obtain.

We are a nation of just 4.5 million people (far less than the population of some of the biggest cities in the United States), yours is a population of 324 million people. That means your profit margin is greater in the United States than Liberia. Therefore, refocus and deal with the United States in your promotional and public relations work. Leave Liberia alone.

If you so love Liberia then open a school for girls to learn about science and technology or establish a micro-lending project for poor women, or a shelter for vulnerable seniors who cannot afford meals and places to live. That would display your American values than coming to tap into our meager resources through your elite Liberian associates led by Madam Sirleaf.

As a college student, I should not have to date an older man some 40 years older than me to survive in my country if I could have a job, and I mean any job, but none exists.  Some of my friends don’t have to have multiple sex partners just to fulfill their roles as breadwinners for their parents and sibling in a country with a woman president for more than a decade. If you cannot see these things then it makes me and other young Liberians question your American values and your faith as a true and faithful Jew because your lack of sympathy for the suffering of Liberian girls and women is an unspeakable evil, and it is an act that should give anyone a belly ache.

This is not funny Riva Levinson! Please stop putting slap in the faces of Liberian girls, women and the elderly who are living in hell in a country led by a woman president. Until we Liberians can call our president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a ‘hero,’ you have no moral authority to usurp our role.  Your book is not only a slap in the faces of struggling Liberian girls and women, it is a calculated and demonic repudiation of their cry for help as they tell their stories, after 12 years of failed promises, greed and corruption, under a regime that supposed to reflect and represent them.

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Rebecca Weade Harmon

Rebecca Weade Harmon is a young Liberian university student studying economics. Her interests include community activism and development. Her passion is to promote girls' education and women's engagement in public service as well as their participation in business.
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