The Lantern Books Blog: What Wangari Maathai Meant for People (1)
September 27, 2011 6:42am
Wangari Maathai (1940–2011)
The late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate meant a great deal to many people. In the next few days, I hope to give readers a taste of how much she impacted people's lives.
My dear Nobelist Wangari,
Your battles at Freedom Corner, at Karura Forest, at [the] Mau [Forest], at Mt. Kenya, and deep in remote villages fighting besides the women and youth of Kenya and Africa for freedom, for a green world, have helped shape my destiny, and are shaping the destiny of my daughter, who adores your deeds beyond imagination.
You have fought dictatorship all your life—from the family level to the national to the international. You have fought political oppression and environmental oppression. And your fight has touched and changed not only Kenya, but the entire world.
I am a Kenyan living in Haiti. About an hour ago I went into a shop in Port au Prince on my way from the office to my residence. The shop owner, who knows I am a Kenyan, had a strange greeting for me today. Instead of the usual niceties, he went straight on to say something that nearly threw me off balance. "I love Wangari Maathai." He hesitated, peering at me: "I love to plant trees . . . with my own hands. I do it because of my love for Wangari."
I did not ask him why he was saying that to me, today. Obviously, being your staunch follower, I launched into extolling your virtues and the change you have brought to Kenya, to the world. I had not the remotest idea that you were dead. Not until I got to my residence and into my private email!
I can't believe what I am reading. How could you die, Wangari, when the freedom you fought for so much in Kenya is now here? How could you die, when Mt. Kenya and Mau and the others are turning green again? How? No. You will never die, not in mine nor my daughter's mind!