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This is my life: Wangari Maathai
by Amin George Forji
2006-10-09 10:27:45
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Celebrated environmentalist, Wangari Maathai of Kenya became the first African woman to win the prestigious Noble Peace Prize, in recognition of her work to rehabilitate the environment. Using a community-based method through her NGO, the Green Belt Movement, she improved the development of her country and greatly alleviated the poverty of the ordinary citizens.

In a statement announcing her as the 2004 winner, the awarding committee referred to her as, "A source of inspiration for everyone in Africa fighting for sustainable development, democracy and peace. Maathai stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya…and her unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression, nationally and internationally. She has served as an inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights and has especially encouraged women to better their situation."

Maathai and the Green Belt Movement have now planted over 30 million trees across Kenya, thus gainfully engaging a cross section of the populace in one or the other. The success of her organisation has earned her the nickname, "Tree Woman".

To crown her successes, Maathai, who increasingly plays a very influential role in Kenyan politics, has now launched her autobiography entitled, "Unbowed --- One Woman's Story", in which she accounts how numerous hard situations throughout her life inspired her to be strong on her 'journey of hope'. "Life is a journey - sometimes it is pleasant and sometimes it is painful - but the important thing is to make the best of it and that is what I tried to do," she told a news conference.

At a press conference in her native village of Nyeri on Saturday, Maathai said one of the first inspirations she got after winning the Noble Award in 2004 was to write an account of her life, mainly because of the many questions and concerns that she was called to address. She explained that the title of the book “Unbowed” was characteristically meant to be a souvenir of the trees that she has planted, "I hope I'm like the trees, unbowed in life, even in the face of adversity," Maathai joked.

Talking about the book as a whole, she said it was her wish that it be a bright inspiration to all young and aspiring individuals. "I hope it will inspire those who will experience it, and especially the young, to explore and utilize the power inside them and the opportunities which come their way, whoever they are and wherever they live," Maathai told the news conference.

"I hope it will be an inspiration to all children and youth, and indeed people of all ages and status. I hope it will also move my fellow Kenyans, Africans and people throughout the world to take advantage of whatever situation we find ourselves in and utilize it to improve our own lives and that of others," she added.

In keeping with the tradition Maathai started in 1977 when she launched her Green Belts NGO, she marked the unveiling of the book by planting a tree outside the Outspan Hotel, which she termed “a new seed of peace” to the applause of the anxious crowd. When asked about her future prospects, Maathai replied that she will continue to be a busy environmentalist, and a busy Nobel Peace laureate.

The book is published by a UK-based company, Random House, and will be released in ten languages, including English, French, Swahili, Dutch, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Greek, Finnish, Italian and German.

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Asa2006-10-08 11:09:44
"...now planted over 30 million trees across Kenya" And how many of these will be used to make the paper for her new autobiography?

Ergotelina2006-10-08 19:16:48
Always Asa-teaser....


Asa2006-10-09 00:06:30
I do try!

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