Wangari Maathai Death: A time to rest - Fare thee well

The death of Nobel Laureate and environmental activist Professor Wangari Maathai has engulfed Kenya with communal grief. She died at 71 years of age and was an iconic Kenyan representative to the world. Kenya has lost one of its caring and protective mothers. After such hard work spanning decades in environmental, political and gender advocacy it is now a time to rest for this Kenyan heroine and mother after a worthy purposeful cause in life.

Notably quiet during this time is former President Daniel arap Moi, who Wangari Maathai made her career out of. He at one moment described Wangari Maathai as a mad woman. She was actually "mad" about Moi's government encroachment of water catchment areas and wanton destruction of the environment.

Were it not for her and other activists, Karura forest and Uhuru Park would now be a concrete jungle. She was vocal about the destruction of indigenous forests such as the Aberdares and the Mau ranges. She was a headache to the Moi government especially during the standoff and stripping with the mothers of Moi's government political prisoners at Freedom corner at the edge of Uhuru park. She was as much a second political liberation activist as she was in the environment circles.

Through her Greenbelt Movement she made a mark of raising the levels of reforestation across the country. Contrary to the current campaigns of planting trees, Wangari Maathai was more than just a tree planter. She ensured that there was a system of nurturing these trees to maturity. She achieved this by enlisting the support of women in the grassroots to plant trees in their localities and take care of them. She also advocated for the planting of indigenous trees and not just planting any other tree.

Last year her endorsement was being sought for the use of eco friendly eco-Jeneza coffins for burial instead of the timber-made coffins. Eco-Jeneza coffins are made from recycled paper and have plastic handles on the side, with their key selling point being environmental friendliness. "Our product will save thousands of trees being cut each year to make wooden coffins," says EAPI Managing Director Cor Roest during the launch recently. For her love of trees, environmental pundits will be waiting to see how Wangari Maathai will be buried, or did she prefer cremation?

Probably the next level of public debate on her life will be how best Kenyans will remember her. There are already tree planting campaigns being organized. Other suggestions include renaming Thika road to Wangari Maathai Highway. However, using her Nobel Peace Prize money Wangari was in the process of setting up a Wangari Maathai Centre in partnership with the University of Nairobi. She was also a staunch advocate of each human being doing his/her part and being themselves.

To read Wangari Maathai's last public interview by Drum Magazine in July 2011 visit this site -

Rest in Peace Wangari Maathai

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One Response to Wangari Maathai Death: A time to rest - Fare thee well

Anonymous said...

we will miss you "mother of the soil"