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Monday, 26 September 2011

Wangari Maathai..a Heroine that was never feted in her own home..

YET another dark Monday in September! 26th September 2011.

I woke up to the news of the death of the most celebrated environmentalist in Kenya and the world in general: Prof.Wangari Maathai

My heart sunk when I thought of the struggles she underwent during the 80s and 90s in the Moi era championing course. Many are the times she found herself hospitalized after brutal beatings by the police:sometimes,senseless.I recall TV footage of her in braided hair bloodied from being ‘plucked’ from her head by the police. Countless are the times she picketed against the powers that be over land grabbing.

Wangari Maathai:A real Conservationist

Countless are the times she was arrested and humiliated in public.Still, she soldiered on!What a spirit she had!
Thanks to Wangari Maathai Kenyans can still enjoy the peace and serenity of nature at Freedom Corner amidst all the hustle and bustle of the city. We would be having an eyesore of a tall structure instead.

Her life story reads like a fairy tale. She came from grass to grace literally speaking. Her awards cabinet is full of accolades that will make even the most celebrated of Hollywood stars throw a fit in jealousy.

Although Maathai had been the face of environmental campaign in Kenya for the last 30 years, she was not as feted at home as she was abroad. It is very sad that she won little recognition in her own country. To some, Maathai was a liberal: call her an environmental activist. Little attention is given to activists locally, no wonder she got more support outside Kenya.It is said that every man is a hero except for in his own town.How true this is.

Nobel Peace Laureate Maathai

Politically, Maathai served as an assistant minister in President Mwai Kibaki's government from 2003 to 2005, but her refusal to keep mum on some issues saw her politically sidelined, and she lost her seat one term later.
With her wealth of experience in conservation and environmental issue, her educational background notwithstanding, she was best qualified to head the Ministry
So, when I woke up in the morning to find the social media abuzz with condolence messages in as much as most of them were sincere, I felt the better part were crocodile tears.

Don’t get me wrong, I was dazed myself at the sudden death of Wangari Maathai.She had a fighter's spirit that saw her silently battle cancer while appearing brave in the public domain.Speaking to one of her close relatives gave me a lot of insights to the person she was behind the glare of the cameras and i can marvel at her courage and strength in the face of adversities.

A week prior to her demise, one of the local papers carried an article to the effect that she had been admitted in hospital for a week. How many of us even had a strand of hair on our body raised in alarm, well apart from her kin,at the prospects of her dying?

It is sad that Maathai passed on,it is more saddening that she is celebrated more posthumously.
When she was among us, we never thought of naming a street after her, let alone erect her statue in honor of her being the first non-political/woman to win the Nobel Peace prize.How about naming a school, river or even a stream after her?So here we are rushing to do the above mentioned and more.

A state funeral is honorable,i applaud the government for that.But they should have tapped Maathai’s proverbial honey when she was still around.

Enough with the seeming ‘whinning’..

My point is…let us treat our heroes for what they really are;heroes(ines).Let us rid ourselves of the mediocrity and crocodile tears upon the demise of our national treasures.People who put our country on the map.People who give selflessly,expecting nothing in return.

Maathai:The Scholar
Let our patriotism reflect within and without our borders.For instance,our athletes:if we honour and reward them locally will not change nationality and compete against us.
Our scholars will not lend their much needed intellectual resources abroad rather than at home.Brain drain will be a thing of the past if we only learn how to value what is truly ours.

I would rather people say nice and sincere things about me when I am still alive.Wouldn’t you too?Rather than having people pour their hearts out at my funeralas i lie there lifeless- and dead deaf.

Wangari Maathai touched a lot of people's heart.It is my hope that life's lessons have been learnt as we mourn and lay to rest our beloved 'Mother Nature'.May your soul rest in peace mama..!

What’s your take?

The Scribe rests his pen…

RIP Wangari Maathai:your spirit lives on:You were a true hummingbird….

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