Mr. Alfred J. Sirleaf was born unto the union of Mr. Alieu Sirleaf and Mrs. Kabeh Zaza-Sirleaf in the city of Monrovia, Montserrado County, Liberia, on October 15 1973. He comes from the Kpelleh tribe in Bopolu District, Gbarpolu County, Northwestern Liberia. He is a Baptist. Mr. Sirleaf, the third of three children, completed his primary education at the Church of the Living God (CLG) Mission School, an American Christian institution, in Todee District, Montserrado County, prior to the 1990 civil war in Liberia. Abandoned in early childhood by his father, he grew up with his mother. After being out of school for years due to intermittent civil unrest and financial difficulties, but with the ambition to acquire an education, he moved to Monrovia and enrolled at the Building for Tomorrow Institute (BFTI), a Christian institution, between 1993 and 1995, where he completed his junior high education. In 1997, he enrolled at the Haywood Mission High School in Monrovia, an American Christian institution, to complete his high school journey. Unfortunately, being self-sponsored and unable to maintain Haywood Mission’s increased tuition, he only completed 10th grade at Haywood before enrolling at the Christian Foundation Academy in Monrovia and obtaining his WEAC certificate and high school diploma in 2000.
Motivated by media work, he has always been involved in press club activities in institutions that he attended and was asked to serve as one of the student heads. During and after the war, Sirleaf had witnessed the terrors of war in Liberia and the dehumanization of people in internally displaced person’s (IDP) and refugee camps. The people in those camps were curious, and wanted to be informed of daily happenings, but were unable to afford newspapers, televisions, or magazines. Sirleaf established the Daily Talk free media system, with its chalkboard-newspaper, to freely inform the public. He is the Executive Director and Managing Editor of the Daily Talk in Liberia.
Late in 2001, after gaining prominence from his “chalkboard-journalism”, he was arrested by members of Charles Taylor’s Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU), maltreated in prison, and released after the destruction of his chalkboard. He went into exile in Ghana in 2002 and returned to Liberia in 2003 to construct another chalkboard for publication of stories.
Between 2000 and 2003, Sirleaf also worked with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare as the National Director of Rollersports to create public awareness on the polio immunization program. In 2007, Sirleaf enrolled at the state radio station, Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), and obtained a certificate in its School of Professional Journalism. At the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints in Liberia, he received a certificate in project management and leadership training. In 2008, he received a certificate in legal training program for senior editors and reporters on International Tribunals and International Criminal Proceedings in Liberia, offered by Advocates for International Development in the UK, following the trial of former president Charles Taylor in the Hague.
Sirleaf, coverage of whose work has appeared in many news outlets around the world, has attended many workshops and programs in Liberia. In 2007-8, he worked with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Public Information Section on its peace and “A Star is Born” programs. Also in 2008, he was one of the local and international journalists invited by the US Embassy in Liberia to cover a state visit by then-President George W. Bush, and in 2009 he was invited by the Liberian government to cover the International Women’s Colloquium hosted by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and President Tarja Halonen of Finland.
Sirleaf has made two international public appearances with his chalkboard-newspaper. In August 2009, he displayed The Daily Talk in Ghana, and in October 2009 he brought The Daily Talk to the UK for a creative festival. He is a 2010 semi-finalist for the International Journalism Award Fellowship in Washington, DC. Media outlets including CNN, Voice of America, the New York Times, National Geographic Society, BBC, Radio Deutsche Welle, CBC Radio Canada, and France 3 News, as well as a number of Liberian media outlets, have all covered Sirleaf and the Daily Talk.
Currently, Sirleaf is a student at the University of Liberia studying mass communication and political science. His greatest ambition in life is wisdom. To him, an informed and educated mind is a liberated mind that binds a good society. He has two children – Blessing Sirleaf and Prosper Sirleaf.