She will always be the woman of steel who had balls for fifty men! Just when Kenya was experiencing the first cases of breaking democratic virginity in 1989, she was the only living being who stood up against former dictatorial president Moi when he wanted to sanction the building of a sixty-two-storey skyscraper on Uhuru park. Now one of the few famed recreational parks in African cities, I can bet you ninety five percent of those couples stealing afternoon kisses and hugs to themselves on the park’s green grass and boats floating over the litu-lake in the midst of Nairobi’s madness probably have no idea that if it wasn’t for Prof Wangari, all that land would now be sat on by a building of bustling business.
You have heard it before, that there is nothing like the wrath of a scorned woman. In 1992, she led women in a graphic protest, stripping to show the government of Kenya how desperate the mothers were to have their sons jailed as political prisoners released. These are the kind of things that made the former president tag her as ‘crazy.’ In 1993, the prisoners including renown Kenyan activist Koigi wa Wamwere, were finally released.
That ‘crazy’ Prof was also on a trailblazing mission to free the Kenyan environment of selfish land-grabbing individuals. Like the persistence of global warming, she was on the path to a permanently allow for environment conservation and the planting of trees. Watch the documentary, ‘Kikulacho,’ you will be more astounded than sad at the staggering percentages of Kenyan land that has been grabbed. Guess what? Kenya is still battling with the evil curse of land grabbing but this woman did her part in the fight. She founded Africa’s Green Belt Movement in 1977 which has since planted million of trees and dedicated it’s work to environmental conservation.
A feminist, environmentalist and in addition she was also a politician who served as a member of parliament representing Tetu constituency between the periods of 2002-2007. She is also a pioneer as she paved way for the rest of us ‘females’ having been the first East African woman to receive a Ph.D., when she was granted a doctorate of Anatomy.
The professor was also the first African woman to be awarded with the 2004 Peace Noble Laureate for her environmental work, that sort of brought controversy to how peace and environment is co-related. If your memory hasn’t failed you, you must remember the 1992 Molo clashes that were aggravated by misappropriation and loose granting of title deeds. In the words of one of her wise quotes, “If you destroy nature, nature will destroy you.”
Forget about Fareed’s rude awakening, my sister took the crown this morning,”Rosey! Wangari Maathai is dead, just got the news from my Facebook!” In a mix of sadness and confusion we ran to the remote to peruse through local TV stations. KBC had a lady discussing ‘World Tourism day’, when is that anyway? KTN had a presenter stuttering all through interviewing two guests on the topic of ‘Home schooling,’ interesting topic but couldn’t it wait? Citizen had Jimmy Gathu announcing to the audience that the Power breakfast was still waiting to host Ferdinand Waititu who was stuck in traffic on his way to their studios. Why do I want to see the SI-unit of running battles on my TV on the morning that honourable Wangari has passed away? It was until around 9.45 AM when K24 ran a repeat of an interview Jeff had done with Prof Wangari earlier on Capital Talk. NTV then started showing re-runs of all the stories they had done of her in the past. They didn’t have a guest in the studio so they brought in Ageyo, the genius to shed some light on the life and times of Prof Wangari. Exactly what I would have done to the programming if I was the editor in chief. Same way if I had the power I would want to watch the sky’s horizon every morning from the Eifel tower. But hey, I am just Rosey.
While the local TV stations gave scanty information on the events that led to Prof’s departure, CNN and BBC world had a mini-feature on her. The internet was bursting crazy with international news on Prof Wangari. My sister and I got more of the information from twitter where she (Prof Maathai) was already an international TT.
All the TV stations in Kenya should have been running clips of her life and times in between their morning schedule with a sense of habitual behaviours of morning audiences. On any morning, a normal individual would first check the news via their Facebook and Twitter, then go to the TV. What good is the latter if half of the things it’s showing are of no national importance to Kenya, in this case the loss of Prof? The president’s condolence came in the afternoon, really?
It’s an issue of precedence. All I can say is that only fools fail to celebrate their hero in their native, dead or alive. I stop to rant. I hope that Prof Wangari is granted a state funeral. As the world at large mourns the loss of a noble peace laureate, can we at least all come together as Kenyans? Lets celebrate the life of a mother, a woman of steel, scholar, environmentalist, activist, not just by chilling at Uhuru Park but can each of us plant a tree in her honour?
BONUS: One of the best documentaries I ever watched will remain to be, ‘For Our Land,’ made by the amazing kenyan filmmakers Wanuri Kahiu and Judy Kibinge. It is a detailed account of the struggles and triumphs of Prof Wangari. The documentary cashes in the power of talking heads, Prof herself opens up in front of the camera. Her closest alliances also talk a lot about her, shedding a lot of light behind her driving force for the love of nature. Can all local stations get it and broadcast it now?
Yet to read her book, ‘Unbowed.’ Here is a link to some of the quotes from the book and a chance to join other Kenya’s in a mission to honour her soon…. \’A Kenyan Girl\’s BLOG
You lost in the battle with cancer but Prof Wangari Maathai, I salute you. Your will and the work of your hands will be remembered much longer after Uhuru Park. Rest In Peace.