‘Have a goal,’ Nobel victor tells Wall Street activists


Liberian Nobel peace prize winner Leymah Gbowee on Friday backed anti-Wall Street protestors in New York and said they must have an objective and stick to it if they are to achieve anything.

“When I wake up in the morning I have goals: women’s rights, peace, security” the 39-year-old social worker told an audience of students at Columbia University who had asked for her advice on activism.

“If you are doing a protest you need to have an agenda. If you wake up in the morning and poke a guitar, take a drum downtown and someone is singing and another one is dancing and movie stars are coming and saying do this, do that... and everyone is confused, you’ll be there for a long time.”

Gbowee, who shared the peace accolade with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Yemen’s Arab Spring activist Tawakkul Karman, praised the protestors whose stand has spurred similar demonstrations in other U.S. cities.

“The uprising is a good sign that people are no more sitting back and taking crap from anyone, but those doing the protest need to come together now and say these are the reasons why we are occupying Wall Street.

“And we will not leave until we will get this, or we will take it to another level,” she said, alluding to activists who began to camp out in protest in New York on September 17 but who have not yet announced what their aims are.

“There has to be some plans. Nobody can solve your problems better than yourselves,” she added.

The mother of six learned early Friday in a text message received after an overnight flight from San Francisco to New York that she had been jointly awarded the Nobel.

“What a day,” she said, at a separate event in a Harlem church where she recounted her struggle for women’s rights, which she said had been helped by her faith.

Gbowee, Sirleaf and Karman will share the 2011 peace award “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.