Sad News of Loss in Kenya

It was sad news that greeted me this morning.

A friend in Kenya informed me that Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Wangari Maathai has died after battling cancer.

This was sad news indeed. Sad because the world and the country of Kenya have lost a courageous woman of vision. I'm thankful that she left this world a little better place and I hope someone is there to continue on her important work and that others would make it grow. I'm happy too that she is now out of pain.

Wangari Maathai was the first woman from Africa to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. What I loved about her was she founded a movement in Kenya to plant trees so that women and girls could get the timber they needed for making fires. This resonated well with me because of  my interest in providing jiko stoves for the women and girls in Kenya. (You can read more here about jiko stove project).

The story of this brave woman reminds me of the power and influence that one person can make.  Remember, you too can make a difference wherever you are. Each of us can make a difference.

After you read the basic story of her environmental activism (below), you can learn more here about how this remarkable woman's life and actions epitomized this well known quotation,
All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men (women) to do nothing.

Story and photo from CNN, Inside Africa

Kenyan Nobel laureate Maathai dies

From David McKenzie, CNN
September 26, 2011 -- Updated 1730 GMT (0130 HKT)

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) -- Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize, died Monday after a battle with cancer. She was 71.

"It is with great sadness that the Green Belt Movement announces the passing of its founder and chair, Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai, after a long illness bravely borne," her organization said.
Maathai, an environmentalist, had long campaigned for human rights and the empowerment of Africa's most impoverished people.

More than 30 years ago she founded the Green Belt Movement, a tree-planting campaign to simultaneously mitigate deforestation and to give locals, especially women and girls, access to resources like firewood for cooking and clean water. They have since planted more than 40 million trees.

In 2004, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote sustainable development, democracy and peace. She was the first woman from the continent to win the prize.

"Her departure is untimely and a very great loss to all of us who knew her—as a mother, relative, co-worker, colleague, role model, and heroine—or those who admired her determination to make the world a peaceful, healthy, and better place for all of us," said Karanja Njoroge, executive director of the Green Belt Movement.

Born in Nyeri, Kenya, on April 1, 1940, Maathai blazed many trails in her life.

She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. In December 2002, she was elected to Kenya's parliament with an overwhelming 98% of the vote.

She was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of 100 most influential people in the world. And Forbes listed her as one of 100 most powerful women in the world.

In April 2006, France bestowed its highest honor on her: the Legion d'Honneur.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called Maathai a "global icon who has left an indelible mark in the world of environmental conservation."

Maathai leaves behind three children and a granddaughter.


  1. Oh I'm so sorry for the loss of such an amazing person, Penny. Blessings and hugs Jo

  2. Oh, Penny, how inexpressibly sad, for her and for the world. However, I would not have wished her to suffer any longer.
    The photo of her is just beautiful. What an amazing and wonderful woman.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. I second that..and we can leave the world and our little spot a better place than what it was. God did the hardest part on Calvary..and I have to remind myself of that fact often.
    Wow, that's a lot of trees!

  4. Thank you Jo, Kay and Regina for your kind thoughts. Please keep her family and her vision in prayer as you are able. Blessings. xx

  5. I had never met her but her name was on many lips in Kenya. She was a strong woman and good leader. Sad news for all green lovers in Africa especially.

  6. She looks so young and vibrant (enthusiastic)! She did make a difference!

  7. So sad for her family as well as the whole country.
    You asked about my test: suspicious and inconclusive follicular neoplasm. They won't know if it is cancer till they take it out and do more biopsies. I will have the surgery on Nov. 11th after my trip.
    Thank you so much for asking.

  8. Joyful,
    I never forget her and I do not know how to express this deep sorrow.
    She came to Japan in 2005, next year after she had won the Nobel Peace Prize. She found there was the phrase Mottainai in Japanese and was impressed with the phrase. Mottainai means “What a waste!” “Something is too good to waste.” “Don’t waste what can be still used.” Very eco-friendly phrase. She had been spreading this Mottainai spirit all over the world. This phrase Mottainai is one of Japanese virtues, but at that time when she came to Japan, it was not so popular as it looked old-fashioned. Because of her, we rediscovered the importance of “Mottainai”.
    My deepest condolence and prayers.

    Best wishes,

  9. Really sad for her family as well as the whole country.

    Short Poems

  10. Oh she was truely a wonderful lady. Planting millions of inspitational. Her face just glows with love.I pray she is now resting in Heaven. I pray you are improving in health dear penny.May the Lord Bless and keep you well and secure in His love. Crystal Mary xxx

  11. Thank you Joyful for putting this up. She was an inspiration to me and many Kenyans.

  12. Thank you everyone for stopping by and leaving some words of tribute to this remarkable woman.

    Since I posted this article, the country of Kenya has decided to give Wangari a state funeral. This is a high honour which has only been accorded once before.

    Snowwhite, it is wonderful that you got to meet Wangari in your own country and that she inspired your countrymen to better protect the environment. This is touching news.

    Otieno, Wangari was an inspiration not only to you and to other Kenyans but to many around the world. She was a true inspiration and a woman for the world. She truly deserved her Nobel Peace Prize. Let us keep her vision and her ideas going forward.


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