Virtues to emulate from the life of a legend: The Late Nobel Laureate Prof.Wangari Maathai

On the 25th of September 2015 the world celebrated a legend’s 4th anniversary.In Kenya, the green belt movement which she founded in1977 led the celebrations at Freedom  corner at Uhuru Park in Nairobi.
The late Nobel Laureate, Prof Wangari Maathai was a phenomenal woman who stood for what she is believed in.

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Photo courtesy of Green Belt Movement.

Nairobi town came to a standstill that morning as we marched on in remembrance of a great life lived.
From Jevanjee gardens to Uhuru park we walked undisturbed.Vehicles paved way for us,which is a rare sight in this busy city.

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With Ms.Aisha Karanja,Green Belt Movement’s Executive Director(Third right) during Prof.Maathai’s fourth memorial at Uhuru Park.

And as she was eulogised by different speakers,it was clearly evident that she had unique virtues,which are worth emulating.

Persistence and Courageous
As Maathai once wrote in her memoir:Unbowed, “What people see
as fearlessness is really persistence.”
She challenged the Moi regime
on its development plans and its
handling of the country’s land. An
outspoken critic of Retired President Daniel arap Moi, she was beaten and arrested numerous times. But that did not stop her at all. One of her most
famous actions was in 1989.When she
and her organization(Green Belt Movement) staged a protest
in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park to prevent the construction of a skyscraper. Her campaign drew international attention, and the project was eventually dropped.
It is all about persistence dear one.Do not give up just yet.

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Commitment
The late Nobel Laureate,Prof.Maathai, sought to end the devastation of Kenya’s forests and lands caused by development and remedy the negative impact that this development had on the country’s environment. In 1977, she
launched the Green Belt Movement to reforest her beloved country while helping the nation’s women. “Women needed income and they needed resources because theirs were being depleted,” she explained to People magazine. “So we decided to solve both problems together.”Proving to be very successful, the movement is responsible for the planting of more than 30 million trees in Kenya and providing roughly 30,000 women with new skills and opportunities.

Spiritual
Being closer to God is very important than anything in this world.Prof.Maathai knew this and at age eleven, she moved to St. Cecilia’s Intermediate Primary School, a boarding school
at the Mathari Catholic Mission in Nyeri.
She studied at St. Cecilia’s for four years. During this time, she became fluent in English and converted to Catholicism. She was involved with the Legion of Mary, whose members attempted “to serve God by serving fellow human beings.”

Compassion
As chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy in 1976 and an  associate professor in 1977 at the University of Nairobi, she campaigned for equal benefits for the women working on the staff of the university, going so far as to
attempt to turn the academic staff association of the university into a union, in order to negotiate for benefits. The courts denied this
bid, but many of her demands for equal benefits were later met.
In 1992, Prof.Maathai was beaten
and badly injured at another protest at Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park as she  was calling for
the release of political prisoners.

Humility
Although she was highly educated,Prof.Maathai did not shy away from mixing with the local community women.As she says in her book Unbowed “although I was a highly educated woman, it did not seem odd to me to work with my hands, often with my knees on the ground, alongside rural woman. Some politicians and others in the 1980s and 1990s ridiculed me for doing so. But I had no problem with it, and the rural women both accepted and appreciated that I was working with them to improve their lives and the environment. After all, I was a child of the same soil. Education, if it means anything, should not take
people away from land, but instill in
them even more respect for it,
because educated people are in a
position to understand what is
being lost. The future of the planet
concerns all of us, and we should do
what we can to protect it. As I told
the foresters, and the women, you
don’t need a diploma to plant a
tree.”
What are the virtues you would want people to emulate from your life dear one?

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Joseph says:

    Good read claire!

    Like

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