AORTIC pays tribute to Professor Wangari Maathai
Article by: Kwanele Asante-Shongwe
AORTIC expressed its sadness at the recent passing of Professor Wangai Muta Maathai and referred to Maathai as "one of Africa's greatest daughters. A fighter who loved the continent".
Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.The first woman to receive this prestigious award. Born in Nyeri, Kenya on 1 April 1940 - she was an exceptional and non-conformist African woman who challenged the gender + human rights violations by successive Kenyan governments, especially during President Moi who famously chastized her for being "an African woman who does not know her place".
She served in the National Council of Women and it was during this time that Maathai introduced the idea of planting trees with the people in 1976 and continued to develop it into a broad-based, grassroots organization whose main focus is the planting of trees with women groups in order to conserve the environment and improve their quality of life. However, through the Green Belt Movement she has assisted women in planting more than 20 million trees on their farms and on schools and church compounds.
In 1986, the Movement established a Pan African Green Belt Network and has exposed over 40 individuals from other African countries to the approach. Some of these individuals have established similar tree planting initiatives in their own countries or they use some of the Green Belt Movement methods to improve their efforts. So far some countries have successfully launched such initiatives in Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, etc). In September 1998, she launched a campaign of the Jubilee 2000 Coalition. She has embarked on new challenges, playing a leading global role as a co-chair of the Jubilee 2000 Africa Campaign, which seeks cancellation of the unpayable backlog debts of the poor countries in Africa by the year 2000. Her campaign against land grabbing and rapacious allocation of forests land has caught the limelight in the recent past.
Professor Wangari Muta Maathai passed away on 25 September 2011 in a Kenyan Hospital.
Rest well fearless and principled African warrior woman. You were intelligent and great inspiration.
Article material sourced from Wikipedia and the Nobel Prize websites.