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The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience
(New York: Lantern Books, 2003)
The Green Belt Movement tells the story of how an organisation grew from one woman’s idea to a network of hundreds of thousands of men and women who have planted tens of millions of trees throughout Kenya. Professor Maathai explores the challenges of grassroots organising and campaigning, and elucidates the key principles and practical concerns involved in running an environmental non-governmental organisation.
Unbowed: A Memoir
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006; Vintage/Anchor, 2008)
Unbowed tells the story of how a girl from the Central Highlands of Kenya became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in East and Central Africa and head a university department in Kenya. We witness Professor Maathai’s numerous run-ins with the brutally repressive Kenyan government and how she came to see planting trees as a way to empower local communities and galvanise a people to determine their own future. Called “engrossing and eye-opening, a work of tremendous dignity and rigor” by Booklist and “essential reading” by the London Sunday Times, Unbowed “provides uplifting proof of the power of perseverance—and of the power of principled, passionate people to change their countries and inspire the world” (Washington Post).
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The Challenge for Africa
(New York: Pantheon, 2009; Vintage/Anchor, 2010)
In her comprehensive and detailed examination of the complex and dynamic nature of the African continent, Professor Maathai offers both “hard-headed hope” and “realistic options” for change and improvement, and analyses the most egregious “bottlenecks to development in Africa” occurring at the international, national, and individual levels—cultural upheaval, environmental degradation, and enduring poverty, among others. She deftly describes what Africans can and need to do for themselves, stressing all the while responsibility and accountability.
Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World
(New York: Doubleday Image, 2010)
Professor Maathai argues that the key to self-empowerment and conservation lies in traditional spiritual values: love for the environment, self-betterment, gratitude and respect, and a commitment to service. These are the values that have animated the Green Belt Movement’s work. While educated in the Christian tradition, Maathai draws inspiration from many faiths, celebrating the Jewish mandate tikkun olam (“repair the world” and renewing the Japanese term mottainai (“don’t waste”). Through rededication to these values, she believes, we might finally bring about healing for ourselves and the planet.
The Green Belt Movement and Professor Maathai are featured in several publications, including:
- Speak Truth to Power by Kerry Kennedy Cuomo (Routledge, 2000)
- Women Pioneers for the Environment by Mary Joy Breton (Northeastern, 1998)
- Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé (Tarcher, 2002)
Professor Maathai and the Green Belt Movement have been the subject of a number of children’s books:
- Flight of the Hummingbird: A Parable for the Environment by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Greystone, 2008)
- Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson (Simon & Schuster, 2010)
- Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola (Farrar, Straus, 2008)
- Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson and Sonia Lynn Sadler (Lee & Low, 2010)
- Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt, 2008)