Today, many in the global conservation and environmental movement are feeling the loss of Wangari Maathai, a native of Kenya and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. They’re also, undoubtedly, feeling grateful for the inspiration and determination she showed the world.
Founded in 1977, her Green Belt Movement planted tens of millions of trees. Her death was confirmed today on the organization’s website — she died of cancer on the evening of September 25th. Maathai was 71, and she will be greatly missed.
We at the Rainforest Alliance are among the thousands who will miss her and would like to share these words from Winnie Mwaniki, who works with the Rainforest Alliance in Kenya:
“She was definitely my role model and did great things with her work in conservation. I did not realize she was unwell until last evening, when I had a discussion about her with my girlfriends, and we all wondered about her disappearance from the limelight lately. A friend explained that the media recently reported that she was admitted to the Nairobi hospital. That was already shocking. For some reason, I have held her in such high esteem that I was even blinded into believing she was too strong to come down with any health condition. The news of her death left me in utter shock this morning.”
“At a more personal level, Wangari was involved in planting trees in around my upcountry home in Kangundo, Machakos. My late mother in-law was part of the women’s group that worked on this project. I ‘inherited’ some of these trees that form part of the ‘greenbelt’ in and around my village. I will forever treasure them.”
“May God rest her soul in eternal peace.”