Kenya: Bloggers Pay Tribute to Wangari Maathai

African bloggers are paying tribute to Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental and political activist who died Sunday after a battle with cancer.

“Rest in Peace Mama Africa,” says Susan:

News of demise of Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai after a long battle with cancer is shocking. I have been wondering why she has not featured much in news lately even with succession politics of 2012 getting hot and when Kenyans need the opinion of women like her. Kenyans will surely miss this humble and noble lady.

Rest in Peace Mama Africa.

Wangari Maathai. Image by Flickr user On Being (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Wangari Maathai. Image by Flickr user On Being (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Taabu notes that Wangari was a first in almost everything:

She came. She battled. She won. She was a first is almost everything she put her head and heart into. The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. The first African woman to win the coveted Nobel peace prize in 2004 for her conservation efforts. And now a bright light has been dimmed. The cruel hands of death have snatched Prof Wangari Maathai from our midst. Shame!!

The death of this distinguished lady marks the end of an era epitomized by Wangari's love for nature/trees and environment but above all else her relentless fight for social justice and freedom. Death, how cruel is thee? But we will shame you by choosing to celebrate the productive life of Prof Wangari Muta Maathai, an icon who lived well ahead of her time.

Mwalimu Mati writes a personal memory of Wangari Maathai:

A week ago I was asked by a friend in the United Nations system to try and find Prof. Wangari Maathai because they were unable to. My task was to communicate to her that on October 31st 2011, the United Nations Population Fund wished to have her attend a special ceremony of seven world leaders (including heads and past heads of governments and states) to commemorate the event of the global human population crossing the 7 billion person mark. Wangari Maathai’s office did not let on, but it is now apparent that she was not going to make that date in New York. This morning I woke to the sad news of her passage.

Wangari Maathai was someone I knew from childhood. She was a great friend and contemporary of my parents and so I will always appreciate how, as I joined the ranks of the struggle, she always treated me with collegial respect; even when I had no clue what I was doing.

Simon thanks Wangari in Swahili:

Asante kwa yote,…
…..hasa kwa kutukumbusha,…
……. nguvu ya MTU MMOJA katika JAMII!
Pumzika Mama!

Thank you for everything…
…..especially for reminding us….
…..the power of an individual in society
Rest Mama!

Mwangi remembers when Wangari was beaten up by security guards during a demonstration in Nairobi:

In 1989 Maathai's protests forced then President Daniel arap Moi to abandon a personal plan to erect a 62-storey office tower in a Nairobi park. In 1999 she was beaten and whipped by private security guards during a demonstration against the sale of forest land near the capital Nairobi. The famed Freedom Corner, now remains a sacred reference place where most protests are started or ended in Nairobi.

SW Maina describes her as a woman who refused to bow:

A true believer. A fighter. An icon of courage. She fought for the environment – our forests – against more powerful foes – askaris armed with batons, trigger happy police officers, a myopic government of fools – and all she had was her trademark leather ankle boots and tree seedlings – and she won. Her legacy lives on. She has inspired many to not bow to any pressure in the quest for sustainable development – development that does not destroy the environment – and she has also inspired many African women. To be strong. To believe in themselves. To be proud of being African women.

Opalo remembers as kid watching Wangari on television:

I remember as a kid watching TV and seeing a woman who was the head of the greenbelt movement being chased around by armed policemen. All I knew was that she was fighting to protect Karura forest and freedom corner in Nairobi from land grabbers. This woman was Wangari Maathai, the first woman in eastern Africa to receive a PhD. She would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize and do all Kenyans proud.

Gukira identifies key lessons for humanity from her work:

Wangari taught us how to be audacious: to speak and act fearlessly in the face of insurmountable odds. To care for futures yet to unfold. To care for strangers in worlds to come. To act with conviction. To care about the public spaces we share, and to ensure those spaces remained public. Indeed, the history of public space in Kenya is inextricably linked to Wangari’s name.

She made it possible for us to envision acting when we thought action was impossible. She acted to create beauty.

Wangari is an inspiration to S. Wangene:

When I was a little girl, Prof. Wangari featured a lot on TV because of her work. I often saw her fight, cry, on behalf of the environment. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood her passion, what she lived for, what she had a heart for. This woman was one person who gave her everything no matter what stood in her way. She is an inspiration to me.

This is how Sokari wants her readers to remember her:

In her honour let us continue to plant trees, plant seeds of life, plant good governance, plant love of each other

It is exactly what Naomi Mutua is doing:

Following the demise of Wangari Maathai, I thought it only sensible to get people to plant trees, and I thought that if we could do this together, even better.

This is what has progressed so far:

a) I have spoken to the foresters at Karura Forest. They will provide an acre of land, and the seedlings to do so. We will do this at Karura for logistical reasons. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot go and plant trees on your own initiative, elsewhere. Plant as many as you can!

b) We have to raise at least 280,000/-. 80,000/- will be used to clear the land of shrubbery, so that you can walk through it and plant trees, as well as 200,000/- to maintain the seedlings. I still have not factored in the costs of providing portable loos and dustbins at the site, as well as water for the seedlings (any volunteers?)

An update of Naomi's initiative:

Hello everyone,

Thank you so much for the support that you’ve given for the #WangariTrees Campaign.

So far, we have raised Kes. 58,050, via Mpesa and Pledges. We are still way off target, as we need Kes. 280,000/- to ensure that an acre of land with 1,100 trees is planted and tended for 3 years at Karura forest.

The Mpesa number to send your donations is: 0717-704133, registered under Naomi Mutua.

Hot Secrets posts a list of personalities and celebrities who have expressed their condolences to her family:

Wangari Maathai’s death has been felt by many. Despite Trending on Twitter, thousands of personalities and celebrities have expressed their condolences to the family for this profound loss.

Nelson Mandela’s Twetter page remembered the fallen legend by posting a link to photos of her lecture during the 3rd Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on the foundation’s Face Book.

The Passing of a Humming Bird is a poem dedicated to Wangari by Mburu Kamau:

The bird hummed where eagles feared,
Sang the taboo words,
Tuned to the emancipation of masses,
With an ecstatic difference.

She walked where angels feared,
Talked the language of the voiceless,
When the breeze blew against all odds
And put on a brave march.

As the dawn for our liberation – the Second Birth,
She stood for the truth, with fearless attitude,
And earned a viper’s wrath.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.