‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’ showcases Liberian women peace initiative

The Women and Gender Studies department partnered with Footprints Foundation Monday night to host the screening of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” a documentary that chronicles the rise of the Liberian women peace initiative.

The Liberian women peace initiative was created by Nobel Peace prize winner Leymah Gbowee during the second Liberian civil war in 2002. Gbowee said living in Liberia during the civil war was hell on earth.

“There’s nothing that should make people do what they did to the children of Liberia,” Gbowee said.

The second civil war started in 1999, between then-President Charles Taylor’s regime and the rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).

Both regimes recruited boys as young as 13 to join their army, supplied them guns and ordered them to terrorize the citizens of Liberia.

The documentary showed how Gbowee inspired Christian and Muslim women to come together and pray for peace. The women of the peace initiative wore white T-shirts, hair ties, skirts and shirts that read “Women In Peace Network” until both militant groups decided to attend peace talks and eventually end the war.

“It revealed to me the strength of the women, I was born, raised in that country and I didn’t know our women were so strong,” said Arnold Maloney, a native of Liberia that relocated to the United States in 1998 during the first civil war.

“I hope we can get more stories out on what has gone on in Liberia,” he said. “I’m glad that it’s getting brought out to the public and most especially, brewing in an academic environment.”

Senior Danielle Sabrina Ellis decided to come to the screening because she studied international law and has discussed Charles Taylor and his crimes in class but has never learned about the women that fought against him.

“I always knew the war was horrible so it was good to see the other side, the people fighting against it,” Ellis said.

Lorna Owens, executive director of Footprints Foundation, a foundation that package and send clean birthing kits to countries with high women and infant mortality rates, said documentaries like “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” allow us to recalibrate the narrative of Africa.

“We are able to see that [Africa] is not just a dark continent, but you have people with hearts and minds and will and motivation to make positive changes geared towards world peace,” Maloney said.

The documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” is part of the University of Miami library DVD collection, which can be checked out with a Cane Card .