Wangari Maathai

Fredrick Onyango photo of Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai
(by Fredrick Onyango)

Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 2004, died 25 September 2011. She advocated for peace and democracy in Africa. She also showed that the way to peace is paved with more than simple anti-violence; her Green Belt Movement got people doing things that helped their neighborhoods (small and large) to be better places to live.

This is like being a triple-threat in baseball or holding lots of high cards in a poker hand. She wasn’t a uni-dimensional contributor. And she was forthright in her advocacy for all of the needs of people. Here’s an excerpt from her Nobel talk:

In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other.

That time is now.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has challenged the world to broaden the understanding of peace: there can be no peace without equitable development; and there can be no development without sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space. This shift is an idea whose time has come.

I call on leaders, especially from Africa, to expand democratic space and build fair and just societies that allow the creativity and energy of their citizens to flourish.

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