Leymah Gbowee: I was very angry. I was a very, very angry young woman. I grew up in a home that, I tell people — my grandmother, she’s 111 and is still alive today — the way we woke up in the morning, my sister Josephine and I, because we were the ones who were sleeping in her bedroom — she would wake up and kneel down at the foot of her bed. Until this day, I remember her prayers. She started with “All powerful, almighty God,” and then she thanked Him for her children and her grandchildren. And she went on down that line. So we grew up with a strong sense of God, a strong sense of a prayer-answering God.

When the war started in December, we prayed — January, February, March, April, May, June, July. By July, when we have come close to a near-death experience, I didn’t want to hear the word “God” anymore. It was just that anger that was taking me. I was just very angry up until the point we left Liberia and went into exile in Ghana. So I really don’t think I shielded myself. I think just playing the role as the protector of my mother and my nephew and nieces, or the one who would wake up in the morning and would say, “Oh, you need to walk two hours from here to go and find food for us” — I was just existing, I think. So it wasn’t about trying to protect myself from anything or trying to shield myself from anything. I had a role to play, and I think my person disconnected from that girl who was out in the streets.