In 2009, Dr Christiana Thorpe was honoured with the German Africa Award for her commitment to free, fair and peaceful elections and for her role in the democratisation process in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Christiana Thorpe is the head of the independent election commission National Electoral Commission (NEC) in Sierra Leone, a country that struggled for stability after the civil war. Known for her professionalism, perseverance and independence, the former nun and teacher earned great respect and was seen as a beacon of hope in the shattered West African country. In 2007, elections according to democratic standards seemed nothing more than a pipe dream. However, attempts by the government at the time to manipulate the elections by influencing the design of constituencies or by buying votes and intimidating voters failed because of the National Election Commission. Under the leadership of Dr Christiana Thorpe, the National Election Commission was able to maintain its independence, integrity and transparency and enforce free and fair elections.
The German Africa Award was presented by the then Minister for Intergenerational Affairs, Family, Women and Integration of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, in Bonn. Laschet emphasised that “poverty is not an argument for dictatorship” and that women are the bearers of development in many countries.