Maathai clarion call

Maathai and Obama
Maathai and Obama

Maathai agrees that competition between our main political protagonists does encourage lawlessness which manifests itself in actions like destruction of forests and filth in the cities. However she places the responsibility for correcting the situation on Kenyans and insists, “better to die fighting than to die hungry”. She adds, when asked about what to do on The Mau Forest: “People have to leave the forest. When the government decided to clear settlements in the Aberdare and Mount Kenya Forests, there was no hesitation. They were driven out and their houses burnt down.”

 

It is always said that a man (or woman) has to stand for something. A week later, Prime Minister Raila Odinga did stand for something. He endorsed the recommendation by a task force in his office to remove the settlements in The Mau Forest.

 

Maathai, founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 when she saw the challenges of rural women in Kenya in accessing clean water, fuel wood, healthy nutrition and a reasonable income. The root of these problems was in the degradation of the environment caused by massive deforestation.

 

Planting trees became the entry point in a ten-step approach to mobilize people on a broader range of issues. GBM uses a holistic approach based on the premise that real development can only take place when the linkages between environment, poverty and governance are understood.

 

Professor Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for ‘aiding the continent’s poor with a campaign to plant millions of trees to slow down deforestation.’

 

 “Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment,” the  Norwegian Nobel Committee head, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, said when announcing the winner. He praised her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.

 

We have heard of dried up water reservoirs like Lake Chad, violent storms such as Katrina and the 2006 Tsunami. Despite the horrors of these occurrences they often appear far away, like they cannot happen to us. Today the dry taps in Nairobi and the once fresh springs replaced by muck, and filth or entirely dried up, should remind us that we are angering nature. Maathai’s answer is you do something.

 

We dispersed from the press conference, warmer with anticipation but still wondering, “why are people so greedy; for land, for money? It reminds one of the poets who wrote: “ Money is our madness, a vast collective madness.” And there is proof since signs of mental illness include greed and lack of care of ones self and their environment.

 

GBM announced 1st August 2009 as the day to start action on Nairobi’s rivers with the clarion call, ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’. All were invited to meet Prof Maathai at Spring Valley and she guaranteed, no structure will be left on the path of the river and its riparian land.

 

 

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