News / Africa

Kenyans Reflect on Legacy of Wangari Maathai

Gabe Joselow

Kenyans are in mourning following the recent death of Nobel Prize-winning environmentalist Wangari Maathai.  Some shared their thoughts at a park in Nairobi that Maathai famously fought to defend.

Uhuru Park is a peaceful stretch of land on the edge of downtown Nairobi.

The name means freedom.  And Kenyans owe the existence of this beautiful place to the environmentalist work of Wangari Maathai.

Paul Gatheru came to Nairobi six months ago. He says he spent many peaceful hours here while looking for work in the Kenyan capital.

“After realizing that she is the person behind this park and how she actually fought about it, we could not be enjoying it as we enjoy it now,” Gatheru said.

Maathai saved the parkland from development more than 20 years ago -- leading demonstrations and eventually defeating the developers in court.

If not for her action, Mary Wambui Mwaura - a city worker here for the past 10 years - would not have a job.

“In that time, the government wanted to grab this ground, to build private houses.  But Wangari [stood] firmly and said 'no, that can't happen,'” she remembered.

In 2004, Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental activism -- becoming the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the award.

She is also remembered for her political activism, particularly against the government of former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Nairobi businessman Eliud Thigari recalls meeting Maathai during a political event at a church in the town of Thika.

“We happened to meet with her, to interact with her within that church, and she told us to fight, to not to fear, to fight for our democracy," he said.  "Since then we continued to fight until such a time, the government of today allowed us to have a multi-party democracy.  That was in the year 2001.”

Maathai's Green Belt Movement planted many of the trees in Uhuru Park.

Shukri Aden says he learned to respect and love the environment while growing up, thanks to Maathai.

“We lost a woman who is very friendly to the environment, she was such an environmentalist woman.  She has conserved a lot of places in the environment.  So it's just a big blow to Kenyans.  We've lost a very very fantastic woman,” Aden said.

Kenyans say there may never be another Wangari Maathai, but her message will not be forgotten.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid