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26 Sep 2011: Wangari Maathai, Nobel Laureate
And Environmental Activist, Is Dead at 71

Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist whose advocacy for social justice and ecosystem
Wangari Maathai
Getty Images
Wangari Maathai
preservation in post-colonial Africa earned her the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, has died after a battle with cancer. Maathai, 71, who during four decades skillfully articulated the benefits of environmental sustainability to ordinary citizens, was co-founder of the Green Belt Movement, which helped Kenyan women plant trees on their farms, school properties, and church compounds as a means of preserving the environment, sustaining watersheds, and teaching new skills. Since 1977, the organization has planted an estimated 45 million trees across Kenya and has expanded to other African nations. Maathai spoke around the world about environmental justice and poverty, but remained focused on issues in Kenya, serving as a parliamentarian and assistant minister for several years. “Wangari Maathai was known to speak truth to power,” said John Githongo, an anti-corruption campaigner in Kenya. “She blazed a trail in whatever she did.”


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