Tributes pour in for Wangari

| November 8, 2011 | 0 Comments

Africa’s first woman Nobel Peace Prize recipient has died of cancer. Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan ‘green’ warrior who educated the world about the importance of trees, founded the Green Belt movement as far back as the 1970s, in order to combat environmental and societal conditions that perpetuate poverty in her home country.

Her efforts to preserve the dwindling Kenyan forests earned her repeated physical torture and death threats over the years, but the first Kenyan woman to earn a doctorate in veterinary medicine never gave up the fight. She joined the United Nations Environment Programme in 2006 to launch a campaign to plant one billion trees worldwide, and her Green Belt movement has planted more than 47 million trees across Africa, in an effort to slow soil erosion and deforestation.

Maathai was elected to the Kenyan parliament in 2002, and became the Deputy Minister for the Environment in 2003. Her legacy will live on through the work of other teachers who also believe that “you cannot protect the environment unless you empower people. The planting of trees is the planting of ideas. By starting with the simple step of digging a hole and planting a tree, we plant hope for ourselves and for future generations.”

Category: Summer 2011

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