The Green Party of the United States is mourning the passing of Dr. Wangari Maathai and celebrating the life of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Mazingira Green Party and the Green Belt Movement (http://www.greenbeltmovement.org) in Kenya.
In 2002, Dr. Maathai was elected to the Kenyan Parliament on the Green Party ticket in the first free elections held in the country in decades and later appointed Kenyan Deputy Environment Minister. She was a close friend to Greens in the US and throughout the world and in May 2008 hosted an Global Greens conference in Nairobi (http://www.gp.org/greenpages/content/volume11/issue1/world4.php).
Dr. Maathai and the women-based Green Belt Movement, which planted more than 30 million trees, received numerous awards, including the Petra Kelly Prize for Environment, named for the founder of the first Green Party in Germany. The first environmentalist and first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, she was jailed in 1991 for working to stop deforestation in Kenya.
• Dr. Wangari Maathai, 1992:
We have come a long way from ignorance to deep insight, from fear to courage and from the streets to Parliament. We moved from self to others, from ‘my issue’ to ‘our issues’, from home to communities, from national level to global. Now we embrace the concepts of our common home and future.
(“Wangari Maathai’s quotable quotes,” Agence France Presse, September 26, 2011, http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2011/09/26/wangari-maathai%E2%80%99s-quotable-quotes)
African Greens (Coalition of Green Parties and political movements in Africa) released this statement today: http://africangreens.org/spip.php?article61
• Theresa El-Amin, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States: “I heard Dr. Maathai speak at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, two years ago. Her influence was reflected on the campus with the planting of four trees in her honor. She was beautiful in her African dress as she told wonderful stories of her childhood and the awakening she experienced on how all life is interdependent. Several members of the North Carolina Green Party, along with students from all over the state, attended the special lecture.”
• Marian Douglas-Ungaro, co-chair of the International Committee and member of the Green Party Black Caucus (http://www.gp.org/caucuses/black/index.php), and DC Statehood Green: ”I was in contact with Dr. Maathai when I lived in Kenya, 2001-2004. Almost everyday I drove past the Greenbelt Movement billboard in the Muthaiga neighborhood that inspired people to action. Black Greens will continue to work to encourage many more African and Afrodescendant women, men, and youth to continue the social and environmental work which Dr. Maathai both started and inspired.”
• Thomas Muhammad, co-chair of the Green Party Black Caucus: “The Green Party Black Caucus joins the whole world, particularly African Greens, in their loss of such a giant sister like Wangari Maathai. Her words should serve as a wake up call for all political parties the world over. She said, ‘As long as there is no trust and confidence that there will be justice and fairness in resource distribution, political positioning will remain more important than service.’ We will miss you deeply, soft-spoken sister.”
• Audrey Clement, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and candidate for Arlington County Board in Virginia (http://www.audreyclement.org): “Women around the world are bereft of a great leader in Wangari Maathai. In drawing a connection between the environment and the power and rights of women throughout the world, Dr. Maathai altered the way we think about both. Wangari Maathai will be remembered as a visionary leader, like Rachel Carson, whose actions saved our planet.”
“Wangari Maathai, Founder of the Kenyan Green Party, Wins Nobel Peace Prize”
Green Party press release, October 9, 2004
“Press Misses Big Story, As Green Party Member Beats Bush and Blair — for the Nobel Peace Prize”
Green Party press release, October 19, 2004
- Wangari Maathai, Green Party heroine and Nobel Peace Prize winner, passes away at age 71 (www.onthewilderside.com)