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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Professor Wangari Maathai(The Baobab)

I call her The Baobab. I name her name after a tree because a tree nurtures, it holds together the land and provides sustenance and a gathering point for a local community. The Kenyan environmentalist, Wangari Maathai, understood these qualities better than anyone. The winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, who died on September 25th while undergoing treatment for cancer at a hospital in Nairobi, worked tirelessly over the last decades to plant over 20m trees throughout Africa. As a woman she understood that women were strong like trees; they should do the planting. She was lionhearted. She took on Kenya's strongman, Daniel arap Moi, and stood up to the crooks in his government who were trying to steal Nairobi's central park for development. She was imprisoned and brutalised, but she won: Uhuru Park will be her legacy. Ms Maathai's organisation, the Green Belt Movement will outlast her. In life she was marginalised and her green agenda ignored; now she is dead and cannot excoriate the ruling class for its venality, vanity and lack of vision, Ms Maathai will be reinvented as a saint and a heroine. Environmentalists should extract the highest price from African politicians seeking to burnish themselves with Ms Maathai's life: a commitment to sustainability. In particular, they should be forced to accelerate her visionary campaign to replant indigenous trees along river banks and ravines where the continent's life-giving top soil is being swept away. The first woman in Africa to win the Nobel Prize. Indeed you found a worthy cause to fought for, democracy and freedom as well as environment. The world will never forget you. Indeed we really miss you. We cannot imagine how we can survive in this Country Kenya without your, the voice of hope, sobriety and freedom. I am terribly afraid that we might lose what you gave us with so much corruption in Kenya. I clearly see that the words of Martin Luther King Jr. applies to you, ...' That one is not fit to live if he or she has not found a cause worth dying for,..' you fought for liberty with your life but survived... Its sad that Cancer had to snatch you from us. RIP Prof. Maathai

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