Wangari Maathai’s quotable quotes

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 27 – Sourced from the Green Belt Movement website.

On receiving the news of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 2004;

“It is evident that many wars are fought over resources which are now becoming increasingly scarce. If we conserved our resources better, fighting over them would not then occur…so, protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace…those of us who understand the complex concept of the environment have the burden to act. We must not tire, we must not give up, we must persist.”

From a statement entitled, “Fears that Threaten Our Unity,” Nairobi, 2003
“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.”

Rededicating herself to the fight to save Karura Forest, Nairobi, 2001
“I have invested 20 years of my life in this campaign for the environment and I’m still only scratching the surface. I am confident of winning. Nobody will build anything [in the forest] as long as we live. We cannot dignify theft.”

On the occasion of the mini-Beijing Women’s Conference, Nairobi, 1995
“In the world there is a new collective force of people mobilising around the issue of peace but linking it to the need to protect the environment. But we must assert our collective vision and responsibility to shape that peace not only for our country but also for the whole of Africa.”

From a speech at Radcliffe College, Harvard University, USA, 1994
“The women of the Green Belt Movement have learned about the causes and the symptoms of environmental degradation. They have begun to appreciate that they, rather than their government, ought to be the custodians of the environment.”

At a political forum during the climax of political multipartyism in Kenya, 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.”

On receiving the UN Africa Prize for Leadership, 1991
“It is not as if leaders do not understand the impact of the unjust political and economic systems which are promoting environmental degradation and promoting a non-sustainable development model. When will such business be considered unacceptable in the world community?…Africa’s challenges are being tackled at different levels, and some successes have been recorded. But not fast enough. The concepts of sustainable development, appropriate development models, and participatory development are not foreign. We are aware that our children and the future generations have a right to a world which will also need energy, should be free of pollution, should be rich with biological diversity and should have a climate which will sustain all forms of life.”



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  • Morisa5

    This is such sad news, she has left us all alone.

  • Wangari Muraya

    I am heart broken and choked that such a human being should perish.  But as a woman I will do her justice by standing on what she worked for in life.  Protect our environment to reduce conflict resulting in wars over natural resources.  If we all do that it will surely make a difference and let her efforts be worthwhile.  God bless her and keep her on His right hand.  “Wangari you enlightened me, made me strong to be a single mother with confidence and faith in what I ever aimed and will aim.  it´s just awful, terrible but we trust in God´s will.

  • Serena Poh

    Sad news, i am going to miss her very much. RIP Professor.