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If Wangari Maathai was alive today, she could have celebrated her 83rd birthday yesterday probably priding herself with her contribution in building the foundation for sustainable development and peace in Kenya.

Unfortunately, she died of cancer in 2011 after staging a tough battle against the disease for some time.

Born in a remote village located in Tetu Nyeri County, Wangari Maathai rose to be the first woman from East and Central Africa to hold a Doctor of Philosophy honors.

At one point she served as the Member of parliament for Tetu Constituency and as an assistant minister in the then oppressive KANU regime.

In the 2004, she became the first African Woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her dedication and commitment in pursuit of democracy, sustainable development and peace through her Green Belt Movement.

Her star started shining in the late 1980s when she staged a fierce battle against the Moi oppressive regime. She joined other political activists to demand for justice and accountability in management of public resources such as Karura Forest, Uhuru Park and political detainees.

In the late 1980s, the then President Daniel Moi wanted to get rid of Uhuru Park recreational center and establish a multi storey complex which would have housed shopping malls and KANU party headquarter offices.

Alongside other political and environment activists, they challenged Moi’s decision to build the 60 storey Times Media Complex in court until Moi government rescinded the decision to develop Uhuru park in February 1990. This became the first Wangari Mathai win against the oppressive KANU regime.

In 1992, she staged yet another battle against Moi’s government demanding release of political detainees. This time round she did it with mothers and relatives of Kenyans that had been detained by the government illegally. Together with her allies, they went on a hunger strike for several days before the government dispersed them from Uhuru Park.

They continued with their demand of political prisoners release for several months before the government would no longer withstand the pressure from the lobby groups. In June, the government started releasing political detainees and by January the next year all the detainees had been reunited with their families.

In 1998, she once again got both National and International limelight for staging a vicious battle against the sub division of the famous Karura forest and allocation to private developers.

Through her Green Belt Movement, Wangari Maathai stormed the section of Karura forest that was already in the hands of private developers and planted trees but KANU rogue youths however uprooted the trees and gave protection to the private developers to continue developing the place.

Pressure from Wangari Maathai Green Belt Movement, United Nations and the United States government forced President Moi to ban excision of the Karura forest in 1999.

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