As I write my tribute to the fallen hero – our eco warrior – and a lady whose memory will be etched in Kenya’s conservation culture for time immemorial, I can’t profess that I had a personal relationship although professionally we met and interacted.
I was privileged to be raised in a village that’s only about 10 kilometres away from Karura forest. We used to plunder it for firewood and napier grass for our Zebu cow and this used to happen very early in the morning before the forest wardens would be awake.
We would set off at 5.30am and be back by 8am, our cows having grass for a week and enough firewood for cooking. We didn’t know that there were terminologies like forests hiving; illegal allocations but we understood deforestation. We used to wonder why Professor Wangari Maathai was being accosted and beaten. But today as I plan to go and run in the serenity of Karura forest, it’s amazing what this wonderful lady has done for us and our generation.
As I grew up, Sunday was family day and for the very simple family the outdoors place when in the city was Uhuru Park where you would loiter, play, go boat riding and live to tell the story for the other half of the year, as this was done twice a year. I can’t help but wonder today if we didn’t have our fallen eco-warrior, would we have such a beautiful park in the city of Nairobi?
Now I am knowledgeable, I understand fully what our eco-warrior has done for this, and the future generation. The serenity of Karura forest and others she has truly fought for, she is a world hero and for sure as a country it is a great loss to us.
How else can we remember her in our life? We would not have Karura forest were it not for her, then why not rename it as Professor Wangari Maathai forest, her name will be an emblem in centuries to come.