by Angela Walker
In 2003 a group of women took on the corrupt dictator of Liberia and the warlords attempting a coup. Tired of the ongoing violence and crimes being perpetrated against the people of their country, especially the children, they banded together and took a stand for peace.
Without firing a shot or raising their voices, these women succeeded where the United Nations failed. Christian and Muslim women together under the leadership of Leymah Gbowee and others proved that moral courage and non-violent resistance can succeed where traditional diplomacy failed.
The film starts slowly but gains momentum as the story unfolds, and we see the compelling story that director Gini Reticker created. “Their remarkable accomplishment had been virtually ignored by the press and was on its way to being forgotten. Being part of ensuring that their story shines has been an absolute privilege.”
The film opens with a montage of original artwork that is interspersed throughout the film, the images a stark reminder of the war that waged for years in this nation. Interviews with the women who lead this quiet revolution reveal the strength and character with which they took on the war that raged in their homeland.
Though at times the scenes captured are brutal to watch, it’s important to understand the desperation that drove these women to action. Young boys with cartoon character backpacks carry guns because they’re conscripted into military service. Children who’ve been hungry and afraid their entire lives find some sense of belonging with their violent companions.
While some scenes are brutal to the point of being painful to watch, they underscore the desperation that drove these women to action. Without being sensationalist, Reticker paints a very realistic picture of the country’s bloody history.
The historic footage from the last several years adds an authenticity and gritty reality to the story, but there are also moments of humor that keep the story from being overwhelming. At one point, the women decide to refrain from sexual relations with their husbands until the warring factions come to peace talks.
These women had no political agenda except peace. Their example of determination and courage made me wonder what women in our own country could do. Could we make the same stand for peace in the face of gang warfare and heightened criminal activity? What would happen if each of us realized that we have it within our power to change the face of a nation through our actions?
“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” is an inspiring film that educates and encourages us to get involved.