Wednesday, 28 September 2011

R.I.P. Wangari Maathai, Nobel Prize Winner and Kenyan Green Party Founder

This week, the world mourned the sudden death of Nobel Peace Prize winner and conservationist Wangari Maathai, who was undoubtedly one of the Worlds true heroines.

She fearlessly stood up to the government and individuals whose actions were a threat to the environment. She founded the Green Belt Movement, an inspirational tree planting initiative. She became increasingly critical of worldwide governance, falling-out with politicians in Kenya, felt deep disillusionment with the World Bank, the IMF, Britain and other former colonial powers. Increasingly she sided with the world's poorest people, becoming a hero of the worldwide ecological and African democracy movements.

She set up Mazingira, the Kenyan Green Party, winning 98% of the votes in her constituency, and then joined the coalition that finally overthrew Moi in 2002. She was a junior environment minister in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005.

In the virtual world, her life was celebrated in more than 3,000 online news articles, several hundred obituaries and countless tweets on the social media website, Twitter.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said: “Rest in peace Dr Wangari Maathai. A great woman, an inspiration for many women across Africa, a magnificent visionary & embodiment of courage.”

Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State said: “Wangari Maathai understood the deep connection between local and global problems, and helped give ordinary citizens a voice.”

Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and a Nobel Laureate, put it simply, saying, “Let us all plant a tree to honour Maathai”.

While His Holiness the Dalai Lama offered sombre condolences to the family of his fellow Nobel Laureate.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela chose to upload a few photos of Prof Maathai at the third Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on his Facebook page.

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