Wangari Maathai: The Woman Behind the Famous Green Belt Movement

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In one of our previous stories at Hai Afrika, we shared with you a heart-warming story of an ex beauty queen who is now a communication specialist, addressing critical social issues. Emah Madegwa takes the cause for mother nature seriously and she claims to be highly inspired by none other than the great Wangari Maathai.

 

The Green Belt Movement was founded in 1977 by Wangari Maathai, the first African woman and first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (in 2004).

The Green Belt Movement was founded in 1977 by Wangari Maathai, the first African woman and first environmentalist to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (in 2004).

 

Wangari Maathai is a renowned Kenyan woman who founded the Green Belt Movement, an initiative that focuses on environmental conservation, community development and capacity building. She was a selfless individual who engaged in environmental and political matters throughout her whole life. She was also the first African lady to be awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.

To this day, many people are volunteering for the Green Belt Movement whether it may be by planting trees and/or advocating for a cleaner environment. Emah elucidates further,”this encouraged me to learn so much about environmental issues and to participate in several environmental forums even though my educational background was not in the field of environment.”

 

Green Belt Movement International - Europe

Green Belt Movement International – Europe

 

Emah Madegwa, shares with Hai Afrika why she holds so much reverence for the late Wangari Maathai and how people can learn from this great leader of a greener earth.

 

Who is Wangari Maathai

According to Emah, Wangari Maathai did not just inspire people to plant trees, she also inspired people to take charge of their environment, their lives and their future. She would use both her hands and heart to sow a greener and more community-minded Africa.

It is because of her works with the Green Belt Movement, environmental protection and restoration actions have expanded across many countries in Africa improving living conditions for many people. Wangari Maathai has also shaped the courses of people’s’ lives and careers. She did that by providing the necessary education for a sustainable ecosystem through explaining of the most technical environmental terms and issues in the most simplest, easy to understand way.

Wangari spent most of her life planting trees and promoting movements designed to make people aware of how important it is to take care of the planet, starting by simply being more conscious of this green revolution within their own communities.

 

Supported by USAID/Kenya, the Green Belt Movement reforested some 90000 degraded hectares of the Aberdares Range.

Supported by USAID/Kenya, the Green Belt Movement reforested some 90000 degraded hectares of the Aberdares Range.

 

Emah wants more to be inspired by Wangari Maathai

Emah hopes to motivate others to incorporate changes in one’s own life and keep this consciousness more alive at the grassroot level.

 

For me, my greatest example would be my first ever tree planting initiative. I had just come out

from high school, and had a lot of time on my plate. During that time, the Nairobi City Council

had just started promoting a beautification program for the city streets and I thought this would

be a great opportunity to play my part in beautifying the city.”

 

Emah remembered her first ever tree planting initiative when she just graduated from high school. During that time, the Nairobi City Council had just started promoting a beautification program for the city streets and she thought this would be a great opportunity to play her part in beautifying the city.

She asked her mother for some money to buy seedlings. She then assembled some of her high school friends, cousins, and neighbouring friends at home, to help her with the tree planting initiative. They were living in Langata, a suburb in Nairobi at time and thus were planting trees along Langata road. Even the neighbour who loaned them some tools decided to join in the fun then.

“After the tree planting session, we were all excited, went back home and had a cup of tea.That was my most inexpensive initiative.”

From then on, Emah continues working hard to save the environment.

 

Remembering Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai is remembered every year on March 3rd as the African Union celebrates ‘Wangari Maathai Day’. The day is observed in conjunction with Africa Environmental Day.

 

Individuals continuing to following Wangari Maathai’s footsteps.

Individuals continuing to following Wangari Maathai’s footsteps.

 

“I was elated to be part of the main organizing team that organized the first Wangari Maathai Day which was celebrated across the African continent, March, 2012 in her honor when I was working with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)”

Wangari Maathai’s actions reminded us that action speaks louder than words. When one is determined to create change, one just need to get into action. The journey may be hard but you never know what might happen thereafter!