Kenyan envoy calls for Maathai’s green deeds emulation

October 5, 2011

Wangari Maathai

People should be inspired by the life and dedication of Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai who died last month, Kenya’s Ambassador to Qatar has said.

Professor Maathai, who passed away on September 25, was the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.

The Kenyan social activist and environmental crusader, who founded the Green Belt Movement, died at the age of 71. She began the movement of afforestation in her country by paying poor women money to plant trees. She was also a former assistant minister of environment and natural resources.

According to a report in a Kenyan daily, the human rights crusader will be cremated on Saturday. The family said they were looking for alternatives to a wooden coffin as Maathai opposed cutting down trees to make caskets. She will be accorded a state burial.

“Maathai was an icon. We must emulate her. She made a great impact on the world by trying to spread the message of protecting the environment,” Ambassador Galma Mukhe Boru said. “She tried to bring about an environmental sustainability in the world and contributed immensely to Kenya in this regard. With the passing away of professor Maathai, Kenya and the world has not only lost an environmentalist, but also a human rights crusader who always had time for unwanted people in the society,” the envoy told Qatar Tribune.

Kenyans will always cherish the work she has done for humanity and the world must emulate her deeds which made an impact globally, he said.

“We will continue with the good work she has done. In Kenya, we intend to ensure that we have 10 per cent forest on our landmass, especially in the catchments areas which help rivers to flow and fill our lakes. We need to plant more trees everywhere,” he said.

The envoy expressed gratitude to those who offered condolences.

“I would like to thank the government of Qatar, the residents and friends of Kenya who came to honour professor Maathai by signing the condolence book at the embassy,” he said.

Titus Kimanzi, a Kenyan expatriate, said Maathai has left a legacy that no one can forget. “She has changed our city’s environment. Whenever I go to Nairobi, I remember her because of the greenery that adorns the city now,” he said. “She motivated people to preserve the environment. I am sure that her organisation (Green Belt Movement) will continue to work because the people are now enjoying the fruits of the movement,” he said.

Anthony Kimeu, another Kenyan national, said that Maathai, apart from her love for the environment, fought for human rights.

“She inspired us in so many ways. She did not shy away from expressing her thoughts,” he said. “I remember during the former president’s tenure when the government planned to build a huge skyscraper in one of central Nairobi’s only parks. It was Maathai who stood her ground and refused any such project. She was also assaulted by the city police during a peaceful demonstration. And with all this, she stood her ground. And now our city is green. We have much to thank her for.”

Qatar is home to around 2,500 Kenyans, employed mainly in the hotel and aviation industries.

Nairobi opened an embassy in Doha in 2010.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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