Though I am about as far as possible from being a rural Kenyan woman, Wangari changed my life as well by the beauty and brilliance of her words and deeds, and by taking my hand saying, "Come to Kenya. You will love it."
As an African woman, I declare: The Nobel Prize got it right, it celebrated three African Women.
African Women are doing the work in the trenches. We often forget the doers and usually acknowledges the talkers.
In formally establishing the Green Belt Movement in 1977, Wangari was wise enough to see that for the disempowered, planting trees was in fact a radical act of self-assertion, a method of laying claim to the life-giving power of one small corner of the Earth.
As the result of Maathai's work, tens of thousands of village women who had been taught to defer to chiefs, husbands, colonial authorities, multinational corporate marketers, and to disparage their own traditions and common sense gained courage.
Most people think of Wangari Maathia as an environmentalist, planting trees. In reality, her environmental activism was part of a holistic approach to empowering women, advocating for democracy, and protecting the earth.
It is with great sadness that I learned today of Wangari Maathai's passing. Wangari overcame incredible obstacles to devote her life to service -- service to her children, to her constituents, to the women, and indeed all the people of Kenya -- and to the world as a whole.