with Wangari Maathai
By Amitabh Pal
May 1, 2005
..."People, especially in Africa, must invest in peace, must
invest in preventing conflict. We must allow our children to grow,
to go to school, instead of carrying guns to shoot each other. You
cannot have security by putting borders around yourself.
You cannot be secure by using your power to control resources and
deciding that you can’t share them with the rest of the world. You
will not realize peace that way. You will have conflict.
The metaphor that I have adopted is the metaphor of the African
stool. The usual African stool has three legs, and the three legs
represent for me peace, democracy, and sustainable, equitable management
Africans Can Do it for Ourselves
By Wangari Maathai, openDemocracy.net
adapted from a speech given on July 2, 2005
London's African Diaspora & Development Day.
"...As I travel across the world, I find that people are concerned
about this shift in the concept of peace and security. There can
be no peace without sustainable management of resources, justice
Indeed, most of the conflicts and wars are over resources: who
will access, exploit and utilize them? Who will be excluded? Those
who feel excluded, exploited and humiliated can threaten peace
One of the worst outcomes of injustices is poverty. It robs human
beings of their dignity. When people are poor and when they are
reduced to beggars, they feel weak, humiliated, disrespected and
undignified. They hide alone in corners and dare not raise their
voices. They are neither heard nor seen. They often suffer in
isolation and desperation.
Yet all human beings deserve respect and dignity. As long as millions
of people live in poverty and indignity, humanity should feel
diminished. This historic time gives all of us, especially those
in leadership, the opportunity to reduce poverty.
There is a lot of poverty in Africa. Yet Africa is not a poor
continent. It is endowed with human beings, sunshine, oil, precious
stones, forests, water, wildlife, soil, land and agricultural
products. So what is the problem? ..."
..."Besides the Nobel, she has been awarded
the Goldman Environmental Prize, the Right Livelihood Award,
often referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize, and the U.N.’s
Africa Prize for Leadership. She currently serves on the board
of several international organizations, including the U.N. Secretary
General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament and the Jane Goodall
environmentalist and human rights campaigner,
first African woman to be awarded the peace prize:
"I know that African people everywhere are encouraged by this
news. My fellow Africans, as we embrace this recognition, let us use
it to intensify our commitment to our people, to reduce conflicts and
poverty and thereby improve their quality of life. Let us embrace democratic
governance, protect human rights and protect our environment. I am confident
that we shall rise to the occasion. I have always believed that solutions
to most of our problems must come from us..."
from her Nobel
Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
10 December 2004
“Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee | October 8, 2004 | Oslo
and political leader, Wangari
Maathai founded the Green Belt movement in Kenya in 1977.
The movement's members have planted more than 10 million trees
to prevent soil erosion and provide firewood for cooking fires.
Ms Maathai worked in veterinary medicine research at the University
of Nairobi, where she earned a Ph.D. She went on to become the
first woman head of a university department in Kenya. In 1991,
she was arrested and imprisoned for her environmental activism.
In 1997 Wangari Maathai ran for the presidency of Kenya. In December
2002 Wangari Maathai was elected to Parliament. Since January
2003 she is Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Environment, Natural
Resources and Wildlife.
laureate says cultural revival may be the only thing that stands
between the conservation or destruction of the environment."
Read her article on Alternet, 12 November 2004
For more information:
Wangari-Maathai Foundation "is focussed on three specific
areas: cultural diversity, greening the Earth, and good governance.
It will compliment the work of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya
and promote activities in other African countries."
genius of Wangari Maathai"
Anna Lappé and Frances Moore Lappé, International Herald Tribune, 14 October 2004
"Several prominent Norwegians have questioned the Nobel Committee
for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Wangari Maathai. Why honor environmental
activism in an era when war, terrorism and nuclear proliferation are
even more urgent problems?
What they miss is Dr. Maathai's special genius."
more prizes and links:
In April 2004, Dr. Maathai was awarded the Petra
Kelly Prize. Read her acceptance
speech. (in pdf format)
Award in 1984
the Green Belt Movement through the Marion Foundation.