Mourn Maathai’s departure, but celebrate her feats

On Monday the nation woke up to the sad news of the death of environmentalist Prof Wangari Maathai. We at the National Council of Churches join all Kenyans and the world in mourning this great daughter of Kenya.

Like many Kenyans we are saddened by the death of our sister, a woman who has inspired many Kenyans and especially those of us in the religious and developmental organizations in the journey of advocating for change in our society. Ms Maathai was not just a national hero but a global icon who inspired many people across the world.

Her resilience in protecting our natural resources and demanding for accountability from the State was admirable. The images of her being harassed by police officers and hired goons as she fought for the conservation of our forests are both inspirational and a challenge to all.

During the Easter period, she always reminded every Christian to plant a tree noting that a tree had been cut to prepare the Cross where Christ died.

As we mourn her departure, it is critical we celebrate her achievements and ensure that her spirit lives. It is encouraging to note that what she fought for was not for personal gain but for the benefit of all of us in Kenya and for generations to come.

Today we are all enjoying the fruits of her struggles as we fetch tap water in our homes and rest in the refreshing shades of Uhuru Park gardens. Her efforts in protecting Uhuru Park and our forests are worth our comfort today.

Each time we rest or hold meetings at the wonderful Uhuru Park gardens should be a constant reminder of her struggle.

Each time we open the tap of flowing water in our houses we should remember her struggles and thank God that she lived in our times.
Every time we drive past Karura forest we should always pay tribute to her legacy.

We cannot honour her enough, neither can we mourn her to satisfaction but we can ensure that her legacy lives.

Our mourning will be void if we let her work and spirit go with her to the grave. The work of this great heroine should not be forgotten like that of many other Kenyan heroes. It should be preserved and passed on to future generations. It ought to be taught in schools to our children and passed to future generations as an inspiration.

It is critical that her struggles in fighting for environmental conservation and her efforts are documented and stored in our museums as a national heritage.

The government should not only accord her a State burial but further honour her by advancing her work. We should make tree planting a national exercise in her honour.

The government should complete the conservation of all national forests and water catchment areas to progress her work. As Kenyans we would honour her by planting trees around us. If each Kenyan planted a tree every rainy season we will in due time attain the recommended 10 percent forest cover in our land.

We thank God that he gave to us Prof Maathai as a gift who has left a great mark in our hearts.

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