First African woman to win Nobel Peace Prize dies
(AP) – 5 minutes ago
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Wangari Maathai, the first African woman recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, died after a long struggle with cancer, the environmental organization she founded said Monday. She was 71.
One of Kenya‘s most recognizable women, Maathai won her Nobel in 2004 for combining science and social activism. She was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, where over 30 years she mobilized poor women to plant 30 million trees.
Edward Wageni, that group’s deputy executive director, said Maathai died in a Nairobi hospital late Sunday night. Maathai was in and out of the hospital since the beginning of the year, he said.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Today is a great loss for the African Diaspora and the World. Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai sucumbs to Cancer. The Africa Heritage Society mourns the loss of this Great African Leader and Environmentalist. Jay O’Conner Media Spokesperson, Africa Heritage Society.
The Green Belt Movement was Founded by Maathai. Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya (Africa) in 1940. The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, Professor Maathai obtained a degree in Biological Sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas (1964). She subsequently earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh (1966). Professor Maathai pursued doctoral studies in Germany and the University of Nairobi, obtaining a Ph.D. (1971) from the University of Nairobi where she also taught veterinary anatomy. She became chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor in 1976 and 1977 respectively. In both cases, she was the first woman to attain those positions in the region.
Her Website is
In what may be one of her last Blog Entries she posted The Green Belt Movement, A Dream Come True She writes.
A Green Belt Movement Dream Come True
March 14, 2011 8:28am
It is no exaggeration to say that Karura Forest is one of the most beautiful places in Kenya.
At 1,063 ha it is Nairobi’s largest suburban forest and home to Sykes monkeys, bushbucks, dik dik, duiker, bush pig, genet and civet. This forest also has attractions such as a river, a waterfall, a bamboo forest and caves once used by the Mau Mau as hideouts from the colonial powers. All within a few minutes of the city center!
Many of my GBM colleagues and I attended the official opening of Karura Forest over a week ago and it was an emotional ride – emotional because it was in this forest that many GBM staff and supporters, including our own Nobel Peace Laureate, Wangari Maathai, almost lost their lives trying to secure it. It was this forest that for years represented the underbelly of our government and the dysfunction therein. It was this forest that reminded us that the environment is political. And quite frankly the thought that my daughter can now go there and enjoy a picnic, a walk and some splashing in the river is amazing!
And so it was with absolute delight that Karura Forest officially opened to the public with a line up of weekend activities that would have rivaled any city fair – a teddy bear picnic for kids, a bird watching tour, a family scavenger hunt, a bike challenge, picnics and a historical tour. It was a fun filled weekend that we are thrilled will be repeated many times.
We want all of you to walk through Karura (there are 5km and 10km walking trails). At GBM we have made it a tradition to take anyone who comes to visit us for a walk in the forest. We want as many of our friends and supporters to experience this magical place. It speaks for itself really.. more than words can say.
As I watched GBM staff at the opening ceremonies, I could not help but read through their smiles. “We saved this forest” one of them told me “Now I know why we do advocacy. It’s all worth it!”
Quotable Quotes From Wangari Muta Maathai
On receiving the news of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 2004
“It is evident that many wars are fought over resources which are now becoming increasingly scarce. If we conserved our resources better, fighting over them would not then occur…so, protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace…those of us who understand the complex concept of the environment have the burden to act. We must not tire, we must not give up we must persist.”