Wangari Maathai was the eco warrior of Africa whose ingenious ideas and tireless work has helped to put food on the tables for rural Kenyans and at the same time benefitted the environment. Under the auspicious watch of the Green Belt Movement (GBM) she founded in 1977 her ideas were adopted and implemented to counter soil erosion, drying streams and dwindling sources of natural food supply facing rural Kenyans. The idea was simply to plant trees that would help to bind the soil and store rainwater to which they would be rewarded with a small remuneration. The GBM targeted rural women who were encouraged to shun modern farming methods and adopt a more traditional approach by growing their own seedlings which once planted and grown would give them a natural source of firewood in a sustainable fashion. Organic farming methods were also promoted as a way of improving soil quality and increasing yield by reducing the use of harmful pesticides. Although the government initially supported Professor Maathai and her reforestation programs they quickly turned on her because of her movements stance on democratic rights. This led to over a decade of protests against the government and saw the eminent professor being arrested on many occasions and foreign governments chastising the Kenyan regime for human rights violations. 2002 proved to be a watershed moment for the Kenyan government as the people had grown tired of their abuses, Professor Maathai sensed the time was ripe for change and should stood for election to parliament. The December 27th 2002 election saw her win her seat with a landslide 98% majority and this was echoed throughout the country and the government was defeated. Her environmental stance had morphed and adopted the role of political activist to help the environment and as she said in her own words: "We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk". On that note, here is my compilation of 12 of the best Wangari Maathai quotes
- Mini Bio
- Name: Wangarĩ Muta Maathai
- Born: 1st April 1940, Nyeri, Kenya
- Died: 25th September 2011, Nairobi, Kenya
- Alma mater: Mount St. Scholastica College, University of Pittsburgh and University College of Nairobi
- Occupation: Environmental and political activist
- Books: She authored 4 books; Replenishing the Earth, The Challenge for Africa, The Green Belt Movement and Unbowed A Memoir
- Founded: She founded The Green Belt Movement (GBM) that is a environmental organization that works to empower women in rural communities to improve their livelihoods by conserving the environment
- Notable awards: Goldman Environmental Prize, Légion d'honneur, Nobel Peace Prize and the Sophie Prize
- Firsts: She was the first African woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize when she was awarded the prize in 2004
- Trivia: In 2003 she was elected to Kenya's parliament where she served for four years. Her electoral victory was decisive, winning with a crushing 98% majority
- Quotes about Wangari Maathai: Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan praised her by saying: "Her energy and life-long dedication to improve the lives and livelihoods of people will continue to inspire generations of young"
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of her; "She understood and acted on the inextricable links between poverty, rights and environmental sustainability. One can but marvel at her foresight and the scope of her success. She was a true African heroine"
"When you know who you are you are free"
"Every person who has ever achieved anything has been knocked down many times. But all of them picked themselves up and kept going, and that is what I have always tried to do"
"There are simple actions we can take. Start by planting ten trees we each need to absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale"
"You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people"
"You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself. That values itself. That understands itself"
"When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope"
"The real thing is when you dig a hole, plant a tree, give it water, and make it survive. That's what makes the difference"
"Do not be overwhelmed. I want to encourage you to be humming birds"
"You can't reduce poverty in a vacuum. You are doing it in an environment"
"The little grassroots people can change this world"
"We can love ourselves by loving the earth"
"Culture is coded wisdom"