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All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all life, everything that is on this planet. It must be

this voice that is telling me to do something, and I am sure it’s the same voice that is speaking to everybody on this planet

at least everybody who seems to be concerned about the fate of the world, the fate of this planet.



Books by Wangaru Maathai

Replenishing the Earth / The Challenge of Africa / The Green Belt Movement  / Unbowed: A Memoir

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Remembering Wangari Maathai

Compiled by Rudolph Lewis


Wangari Maathaivisionary, human rights advocate, womanist, mother, Kenyan activistpassed away 25 september 2011 at 71. Though they will not tell the full story, she can be remembered in the following words:

My heart is in the land and women I came from. . . . African women in general need to know that it’s okay for them to be the way they areto see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence. . . .

We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill, those who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind. . . . All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all life, everything that is on this planet. It must be this voice that is telling me to do something, and I am sure it’s the same voice that is speaking to everybody on this planetat least everybody who seems to be concerned about the fate of the world, the fate of this planet. . . .

Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own.AfriPopMag

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Africa, particularly African women, have lost a champion, a leader, an activist. We're going to miss her. We're going to miss the work she's been doing all these years on the environment, working for women's rights and women's participationEllen Johnson Sirleaf told the BBC about Prof. Wangari

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Wangari Muta Mary Jo Maathai (1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011) was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights. In 1986, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, and in 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace." Maathai was an elected member of Parliament and served as assistant minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005. In 2011, Maathai died of complications from ovarian cancer.Wikipedia

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1st African Woman to Win Nobel Peace Prize Dies  / Wangari Maathai—I will be a hummingbird

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The Passing of a Humming Bird

                            A Tribute To Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai

                                             By Mburu Kamau.  


The bird hummed where eagles feared,
Sang the taboo words,
Tuned to the emancipation of masses,
With an ecstatic difference.

She walked where angels feared,
Talked the language of the voiceless,
When the breeze blew against all odds
And put on a brave march.

As the dawn for our liberation – the Second Birth,
She stood for the truth, with fearless attitude,
And earned a viper’s wrath.

The bird lifted the land high above,
When she held the coveted prize,
For the quest in restoring our dignity,
And we all shouted in her praise.

She fought for you, me and us,
And made us proud,
Our future was restored,
At last, as it ignites our heritage.

Then the wind blew so hard,
That it was too difficult to steer,
Or perch on the nearest tree.

The wing could not move further,
And the sun finally rested on her,
Before, just before the dawn.

The daughter of the African cause,
The tigress that pounces,
The mother of restoring our dashed hope,
The fertility of the land,
The peace beacon of Kenya, Africa, the earth.
Rest in peace,
Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai

© mburu kamau

Source: Wamathai

26 September 2011 by Wamathai

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I am so saddened to learn of the death of Wangari Maathai's death. What a great loss to Africa and to the world! She was a great inspiration to all of us. May her soul rest in peace. . . . I cannot believe she is no more. All day, I was so busy teaching, didn't even know until my son told me this evening. This is a great loss to all of us. I met her several years ago in NYC at an occasion in celebration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She was too much of a thunder to live long.—Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

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2007 Tribute to Wangari Maathai

Kenyan Nobel Laureate

By Adeyinka Makinde


That Wangari Maathai is a special human being is beyond doubt. But in determinedly surmounting and overcoming the particular barriers arrayed against her so effectively as to become a global figure of female emancipation, democratization, and environmental consciousness, the operative appellation, perhaps, should be extraordinary.

She was born on April 1st in 1940 in the Kikuyu speaking district of Nyeri, a rural part of British administered Kenya. She was an inquisitive child and stood out on account of her tendency towards precociousness, lifelong characteristics which would serve as indispensible aids to her quest for knowledge and justice, but which would also serve to rile her detractors.

Her voracious aptitude to learn made her excel in the academic field. From her primary schooling to the higher echelons of academia, she cut a swath and in the process earned the admiration of many who were unused to seeing a person from humble rural origins achieve so much, while incurring the undisguised wrath of others who still adhered to the traditional ideology of a society which was strictly patriarchal.

After completing her first degree in 1964 in Biological Sciences at Scholastica College, Kansas, she went on to obtain a Masters at Pittsburgh University. In 1971, she was awarded a Ph.D in Anatomy by the University of Nairobi, in the process becoming the first woman of East and Central African origin to do so.

The list of firsts is as impressive as they are seemingly endless: first female chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy at University of Nairobi and also the first female Associate Professor of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy at the same institution. Additionally, she served from 1975 to 1980 as the Director of the Kenya Red Cross and was the Chair Person for Maendeleo Ya Wanawake, the Kenyan National Council for Women.

Maathai, however, was becoming involved with matters and issues away from academia. Her husband’s involvement in politics, as well as her concerns about the effects of deforestation spurred her to action. In 1977, she formed the Green Belt Coalition, a non-governmental organization which purposefully set about the task of planting trees in order to replenish their dangerously depleting reserves. A failure to act, she stressed, would lead to ecological imbalances with ramifications for the quality of soil, the availability of firewood and nutrients for animals.

She was a vocal critic of Kenya’s drift to a one party state and advocated a return to multi-party democracy while castigating the corruption and tribalism endemic in the country’s politics. She would eventually run for the office of Kenyan President in 1997.

Her achievements have not been without personal cost and sacrifice. Her husband divorced her, citing her strong-mindedness and the fact that he could not “control her.” She also faced numerous threats and imprisonment from the government of Daniel arap Moi. It would take a letter-writing campaign orchestrated by Amnesty International amongst many efforts to free her from a jail sentence imposed in 1991.

Wangari Maathai’s efforts have certainly borne the fruit of her labours. Her Green Belt Coalition has overseen the planting of over 30 million trees in Kenya, and as a government minister, she has been a part of a new age of multi-party democracy. While abroad, her academic excellence and environmental activism brought the conferment of a Visiting Fellowship at Yale University’s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry.

In 2006, she was awarded the French Legion d’honneur, two years after her Nobel prize for her contribution to “sustainable development, development and peace.”

All very fitting acknowledgements for one from such unpromising origins, but who through dogged determination has been able to ascend amazing heights. Yet, back home in Kenya, among the simple rural folk who were and still remain her first constituency, they prefer the honorific:

“Tree Mother of Africa.”

Source: AdeyinkaMakinde

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Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai: A Global Icon of Conservation—Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, teaching women to plant trees as a way to keep their water clean and provide them with wood. The Nobel Committee noted that her work stood out particularly against the repressive government of former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, who was no Maathai fan. He called her "mad" and described her as a threat to Kenyan national security, according to The Associated Press.

She ended up as one of Kenya's best known citizens; the present Kenyan president, Mwai Kibaki, mourns her as "a global icon who has left an indelible mark in the world of environmental conservation." And this afternoon, President Obama said "the world mourns ... and celebrates the extraordinary life of this remarkable woman who devoted her life to peacefully protecting what she called 'our common home and future.' " Maathai, a professor at the University of Nairobi, spoke with NPR's Montagne on Morning Edition in 2004. She told Renee that after she learned she had been awarded the Nobel, she walked outside and planted a tree.—NPR

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Wangari Maathai: Death of a visionary

Excepts by Ricard Black


26 September 2011

Wangari Maathai's compelling life story is inextricably linked with the social and political changes that so much of Africa has been through since the idea of throwing off European colonialism began to gain traction shortly after World War II. Her unique insight was that the lives of Kenyans—and, by extension, of people in many other developing countries—would be made better if economic and social progress went hand in hand with environmental protection. The Green Belt Movement, which she founded in 1977, has planted an estimated 45 million trees around Kenya.

The straightforward environmental benefits of that would have been important enough on their own in a country whose population has grown more than 10-fold over the last century, creating huge pressure on land and water. But what made the movement more remarkable was that it was also conceived as a source of employment in rural areas, and a way to give new skills to women who regularly came second to men in terms of power, education, nutrition and much else. . . .

Opposing a major government-backed development in Nairobi, she was labelled a "crazy woman"; it was suggested that she should behave like a good African woman and do as she was told. Her former husband made similar comments when suing for divorce: she was strong-willed, and could not be controlled. This alone gives some idea of the battles Dr Maathai fought in the politically active phase of her life, which encompassed and indeed wove together the ideals of helping Kenya develop sustainably and helping Kenyan women achieve equality.

But without the progress of post-colonial reforms, it's doubtful that she would have been able to achieve a fraction of what she did; the times she lived in generated the tides she fought against, but they also provided the means with which to fight. Dr Maathai highlighted the damage that illegal logging was doing to forests and livelihoods

Post-colonial links with the West offered Africans of great intellect but poor background the chance to study abroad, in the US and Germany.  This brought her the knowledge of biology and the PhD that both opened doors in corridors of influence and gave scientific underpinning to the environmental restoration work on which she embarked. Another vital strand in her life was the creation of global environmental organisations, in particular the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) in 1972.

These organisations desperately needed to tap into expertise in the developing world, especially because it was in these countries that the vicious circle of environmental degradation, unsustainable population growth and poverty was at its most grinding. With its headquarters situated in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Wangari Maathai was one of the first people from the developing world adopted into the Unep "family", which meant global exposure and, relatively, a huge influence.

Among other things, that meant the capacity to spread the Green Belt philosophy to other countries where the ecological and economic need is even more pressing than in Kenya—notably the Congo Basin, where warring factions and deep poverty have put huge pressure on forests and the wildlife they maintain.Eventually, this would all lead to the award in 2004 of the Nobel Peace Prize—the first time it had gone to an African woman, and arguably the first "green Nobel". . . . I  say "arguably" partly because previous prize-winning work had contained an environmental component, such as that of Paul Crutzen, Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina who deciphered the chemistry of ozone depletion. And partly because the citation itself does not explicitly mention the word "environment", reading: "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace". In other words, it's not just planting trees—it's the reasons why trees are planted, it's the social side of how the tree-planting works, it's the political work that goes alongside tree-planting, and it's the vision that sees loss of forest as translating into loss of prospects for people down the track.

There is, in some parts of the world, a backlash now against these ideas. Every couple of days an email comes into my inbox asserting that the way to help poorer countries develop is to get them to exploit their natural resources as quickly and deeply as possible with no regard for problems that may cause. Organisations promoting this viewpoint are not, to my knowledge, based in the developing world but in the Western capitals that might make use of the fruits of such exploitation—cheaper wood, cheaper oil, cheaper metals. It is the opposite of sustainable. But the existence of these lobby groups can be seen as a testament to the influence that Wangari Maathai and others like her have had on global debate.The UN initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (Redd), the linking of biodiversity to livelihoods, moves to strengthen the rule of law as a pre-requisite for environmental health, and the notion that communities should gain when the natural resources they maintain are exploited - all these in part trace their roots back to Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement.

Source: BBC

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Kenyan Nobel Winner Maathai, Savior of Trees, Dies

By David Clarke and George Obulutsa


Her movement expanded in the 1980s and 1990s to embrace wider campaigns for social, economic and political change, setting her on a collision course with the government of the then-president, Daniel arap Moi. Maathai, who won the Peace Prize in 2004, had to endure being whipped, tear-gassed and threatened with death for her devotion to Africa's forests and her desire to end the corruption that often spells their destruction.

"It's a matter of life and death for this country," Maathai once said. "The Kenyan forests are facing extinction and it is a man-made problem." "You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them." Maathai was born in the central highlands of Kenya on April 1, 1940. She earned a master's degree in the United States before becoming the first woman in Kenya to receive a doctorate for veterinary medicine and be appointed a professor. "Wangari Maathai will be remembered as a committed champion of the environment, sustainable development, women's rights, and democracy," said former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. "Wangari was a courageous leader. Her energy and life-long dedication to improve the lives and livelihoods of people will continue to inspire generations of young people around the world," he said.

In 1989, Maathai's protests forced Moi to abandon plans to erect an office tower in Uhuru Park, an oasis of green that flanks the main highway running through the center of the Kenyan capital Nairobi. In 1999, Maathai was beaten and whipped by guards during a protest against the sale of public land in Karura Forest. The forest in Nairobi covers more than 1,000 hectares and is home to wildlife such as duiker antelopes and civets, as well as caves used by Mau Mau fighters in their struggle against British rule. "We have lost a serious personality who shaped not only Kenya but the world at large. We have lost a great mind, a great woman who could change lives in this country," said Nairobi resident Gikonge Mugwongo. Maathai called forest clearance a "suicidal mission."

"To interfere with them is to interfere with the rain system, the water system and therefore agriculture, not to mention the other industries dependent on hydro-electricity." Maathai's movement spread across Africa and has gone on to plant more than 47 million trees to slow deforestation and erosion. She joined the U.N. Environment Program in 2006 to launch a campaign to plant a billion trees worldwide. "Her departure is untimely and a very great loss to all of us who knew her -- as a mother, relative, co-worker, colleague, role model, and heroine -- or those who admired her determination to make the world a peaceful, healthy and better place for all of us," her movement said in a statement.

Source: CommonDreams

Taking Root: The vision of Wangari Maathai

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai | Trailer Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai 2 /

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari 3  / Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai 4

Wangari Maathai & The Green Belt Movement  / On the Trail of Wangari Maathai

The life and times of Prof. Wangari Maathai  / Wangari MaathaiThe unrecognized prophet?

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Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dies at 71

Excerpts by Jeffrey Gettlemn

26 September 2011

Dr. Maathai, one of the most widely respected women on the continent, played many roles — environmentalist, feminist, politician, professor, rabble-rouser, human rights advocate and head of the Green Belt Movement, which she founded in 1977. Its mission was to plant trees across Kenya to fight erosion and to create firewood for fuel and jobs for women. Dr. Maathai was as comfortable in the gritty streets of Nairobi’s slums or the muddy hillsides of central Kenya as she was hobnobbing with heads of state. She won the Peace Prize in 2004 for what the Nobel committee called “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” It was a moment of immense pride in Kenya and across Africa.

Her Green Belt Movement has planted more than 30 million trees in Africa and has helped nearly 900,000 women, according to the United Nations, while inspiring similar efforts in other African countries. “Wangari Maathai was a force of nature,” said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations’ environmental program. He likened her to Africa’s ubiquitous acacia trees, “strong in character and able to survive sometimes the harshest of conditions.”

Dr. Maathai toured the world, speaking out against environmental degradation and poverty, which she said early on were intimately connected. But she never lost focus on her native Kenya. She was a thorn in the side of Kenya’s previous president, Daniel arap Moi, whose government labeled the Green Belt Movement “subversive” during the 1980s. Mr. Moi was particularly scornful of her leading the charge against a government plan to build a huge skyscraper in one of central Nairobi’s only parks. The proposal was eventually scrapped, though not long afterward, during a protest, Dr. Maathai was beaten unconscious by the police. When Mr. Moi finally stepped down after 24 years in power, she served as a member of Parliament and as an assistant minister on environmental issues until falling out of favor with Kenya’s new leaders and losing her seat a few years later.

In 2008, after being pushed out of government, she was hit with tear gas by the police during a protest against the excesses of Kenya’s entrenched political class.

Home life was not easy, either. Her husband, Mwangi, divorced her, saying she was too strong-minded for a woman, by her account. When she lost her divorce case and criticized the judge, she was thrown in jail. . . . Wangari Muta Maathai was born on April 1, 1940, in Nyeri, Kenya, in the foothills of Mount Kenya. A star student, she won a scholarship to study biology at Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan., receiving a degree in 1964. She earned a master of science degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

She went on to obtain a doctorate in veterinary anatomy at the University of Nairobi, becoming the first woman in East or Central Africa to hold such a degree, according to the Nobel Prize Web site. She also taught at the university as an associate professor and was chairwoman of its veterinary anatomy department in the 1970s. A day before she was scheduled to receive the Nobel, Dr. Maathai was forced to respond to a report in The East African Standard, a daily newspaper in Nairobi, that she had likened AIDS to a “biological weapon,” telling participants in an AIDS workshop in Nyeri that the disease was “a tool” to control Africans “designed by some evil-minded scientists.”

She said her comments had been taken out of context. “It is therefore critical for me to state that I neither say nor believe that the virus was developed by white people or white powers in order to destroy the African people,” she said in a statement released by the Nobel committee. “Such views are wicked and destructive.” In presenting her with the Peace Prize, the Nobel committee hailed her for taking “a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women’s rights in particular” and for serving “as inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights.”

Dr. Maathai received many honorary degrees, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, as well as numerous awards, including the French Legion of Honor and Japan’s Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun. She was the author of several books, including Unbowed: A Memoir, published in 2006. She is survived by three children, Waweru, Wanjira and Muta, and a granddaughter, according to the Green Belt Movement.

Former Vice President Al Gore, a fellow Peace Prize recipient for his environmental work, said in a statement, “Wangari overcame incredible obstacles to devote her life to service — service to her children, to her constituents, to the women, and indeed all the people of Kenya — and to the world as a whole.” In her Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Dr. Maathai said the inspiration for her work came from growing up in rural Kenya. She reminisced about a stream running next to her home — a stream that has since dried up — and drinking fresh, clear water.“In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness,” she said, “to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.”

Source: NYTimes

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World

By Wangari Maathai

The Challenge of Africa

By Wangari Maathai

The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience

By Wangari Maathai


Unbowed: A Memoir

By Wangari Maathai

The mother of three, the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate, and the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai of Kenya understands how the good earth sustains life both as a biologist and as a Kikuyu woman who, like generations before her, grew nourishing food in the rich soil of Kenya's central highlands. In her engrossing and eye-opening memoir, a work of tremendous dignity and rigor, Maathai describes the paradise she knew as a child in the 1940s, when Kenya was a "lush, green, fertile" land of plenty, and the deforested nightmare it became. Discriminated against as a female university professor, Maathai has fought hard for women's rights. And it was women she turned to when she undertook her mission to restore Kenya's decimated forests, launching the Green Belt Movement and providing women with work planting trees. Maathai's ingenious, courageous, and tenacious activism led to arrests, beatings, and death threats, and yet she and her tree-planting followers remained unbowed. Currently Kenya's deputy minister for the environment and natural resources, Nobel laureate, visionary, and hero, Maathai has restored humankind's innate if nearly lost knowledge of the intrinsic connection between thriving, wisely managed ecosystems and health, justice, and peace.—Booklist

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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