Tribute of Wangari Maathai
Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, a rural area of Kenya (Africa), in 1940. Wangari Maathai was the founder of the Green Belt Movement. She received a degree in Biological Sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas (1964), a Master of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh (1966), and pursued doctoral studies in Germany and the University of Nairobi. But before receiving a Ph.D. degree from the University of Nairobi, she taught there veterinary anatomy. Professor Maathai is the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree who became chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor in 1976 and 1977 respectively. She was the first woman to attain those positions in that part. Professor Maathai was the chairman in the National Council of Women of Kenya. She proposed the idea of community-based tree planting and continued to develop this idea into a broad-based grassroots organization which is the Green Belt Movement (GBM)’s main task.
Professor Maathai was internationally renowned for her struggle for democracy, human rights, and environmental conservation. Professor Maathai represented the Tetu constituency in Kenya’s parliament and served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in Kenya’s ninth parliament. She was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem. The next year she founded the Nobel Women’s Initiative with her sister laureates in 2005. Professor Maathai was invited to be co-chair of the Congo Basin Fund to help protect the Congo forestsmit in 2007. She served on the Commission for Global Governance and the Commission on the Future. She was named by UN (United Nations) “UN Messenger of Peace” in December 2009. In 2010 she was appointed to the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group: a panel of political leaders, business people and activists established with the aim to galvanise worldwide support for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Professor Maathai also became a trustee of the Karura Forest Environmental Education Trust which was established to safeguard the public land for whose protection she had fought for almost twenty years. That same year, in partnership with the University of Nairobi, she founded the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies (WMI). She wrote four books: The Green Belt Movement; Unbowed: A Memoir; The Challenge for Africa; and Replenishing the Earth. A documentary film was also made on her life works. She got Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 2004 along with a lot of other awards. This great woman died on 25 September 2011 at the age of 71 after a battle with ovarian cancer.