Have you heard of Wangari Maathai? She is a Kenyan environmentalist and all round bad-ass change-maker. Well, you’d say bad-ass if you were in Government in Kenya in the 90′s, but we’re using it in a positive sense here. As in, the kind of person you want on your team when you set out to change the world.
What has Wangari Maathai done?
- She set up an organsation that has planted over 4 million trees across Kenya: Greenbelt Movement
- She prevented monstrosity skyscrapers from being built in Nairobi’s equivalent of Hyde or Central Park
- She helped get political prisoners released
- She helped establish true democracy in Kenya
- She made corrupt leaders listen to Kenyan women
- She wrote an autobiography for which former President, Clinton, gave a front-cover endorsement.
And soooo much more. No wonder she won the Nobel Peace Prize.
And she inspired my guest post at A Traveler’s Library where writers are invited to share books that inspired them to travel to a place.
It’s not that I’ve been inspired to visit Kenya. Her story inspired me to another kind of travel. Reading Unbowed inspired me to help make the “grass” a little greener” right here in Ghana.
‘Unbowed tells about her life from birth through to the period of publication, but it’s the development of Maathai’s political consciousness and her transformation into an environmental and human rights activist in Kenya that most captivated me.
I discovered that Maathai’s commitment and dedication to protecting the environment has transformed the human landscape in Kenya, too. Her will and her network publicized, prevented or remedied human rights abuses, especially against women, corrupt practices, destructive environmental practices, and conflict across Kenya—in the face of death threats, abuse, harassment, imprisonment and much more. This was new to me and truly opened my eyes to the reality that Kenyans have had to endure for all these years.
But she is famous for her beloved trees and rivers and, to steal a Fuller phrase, the planet is “going to the dogs.”’