Africa mourns the loss of environmentalist, activist and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. The Kenyan icon died late Sunday night while undergoing cancer treatment. She was 71 years old.
For many, Wangari Maathai is a legend to become synonymous with Nelson Mandela and Kwame Nkurumah. In 1971, Maathai made history as the first woman in Eastern and Central Africa to attain a doctoral degree, and in 2004, she became the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai’s initiatives to promote conservation are internationally recognized; most notably, her creation and leadership of the Green Belt Movement led to the planting of 20-30 million trees in countries across the continent.
Maathai was also an accomplished writer and the author of The Challenge for Africa and Unbowed: A Memoir. She will not only be celebrated for her historic accomplishments, but for her resilience in the fight for democracy, women’s rights and environmental conservation.