Prof Maathai Feted on Wangari Maathai Day

March 4, 2019

Paying tribute to the late Nobel Laureate’s legacy, in January 2012, the African Union (AU) adopted a decision calling for the joint celebrations of the African Environment Day and Wangari Maathai Day on 3rd March.

This year, Professor Maathai’s relentless environmental conservation work was immortalized with the naming of a landmark international conference hall in her honor at the August 7th Memorial Park.

Presiding over the inauguration ceremony, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta paid glowing tribute to the late Nobel Peace Laureate saying Kenyans will forever be indebted to Wangari Maathai for her relentless advocacy campaigns to preserve public lands and forests that we enjoy today.

The First Lady said the Wangari Maathai Conference Hall, and space where the memorial peace museum stands, also symbolize hope, reconciliation, and peace in memory of the victims of the August 7, 1998, terrorist attack.

“This park stands as an oasis of peace. The green landscapes and peaceful setting resonate with Professor Maathai’s fight – to live in peaceful harmony with the environment,” added the First Lady.

The Green Belt Movement (GBM) Chairperson Marion Kamau thanked the August 7th Memorial Trust for the great honor they have bestowed upon Professor Maathai, and by extension GBM, by naming their conference hall in her honor.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Wanjira Mathai shared with all those in attendance the symbolism that Green Belt Movement places on the August 7th Memorial Park. Wanjira reminisced how GBM and Professor Maathai voluntarily fed rescuers on site on the fateful day when the blast occurred in 1998.

The Green Belt Movement team gifted the First Lady a traditional African three-legged stool which Professor Maathai used as a metaphor for what she viewed as the three essential components of a stable society: sustainable environmental management, democratic governance, and a culture of peace. 

Wangari Maathai/Africa Environment Day symbolizes the challenges and hope for Africa aiming to raise awareness on sustainable environmental management among all stakeholders at national, regional and continental levels. It also draws attention to the increasing environmental problems faced by the continent and to encourage the development of appropriate policies at national and regional levels and to enhance environmental sustainability.

Read the First Lady's speech here.