Friday, 18 February 2005

Wangari Maathai

There's so much to moan about with respect to the powers that be, that it's a blessed delight to realize that there is also much to celebrate on this planet. Powerful and inspirational people abound, and it's vital to rekindling hope to shine a bright light upon as many of these luminaries as possible.

Wangari Maathai, one such uplifting figure was interviewed tonight on PBS' NOW by David Brancaccio. Educated in biological sciences in the States and Germany in the sixties, Maathai, recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, returned to her native Kenya where after holding prestigious positions in Veterinary Anatomy at the University of Nairobi, she helped found the Green Belt Movement, assisting women in planting over 20 million trees on farms and school and church compounds. In 1986 the Movement founded a Pan African Green Belt Network, expanding the program across that troubled continent.

In her address accepting the Nobel Prize, Maathai intoned:
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.
Not every effort will meet with success, but tireless individuals such as Maathai inspire us to keep trying.

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