Wangari Maathai is a very astonishing woman, who has lived both a long and full life. She has seen the world, sought knowledge, and come back to her homeland to make a diference in the plight of women and the ecosystem. For her amazing efforts she won a noble peace prize. What is surprising to see is her environmental consciousness and belief in a sort of eco-balance that humans have the great potential to disrupt in their greed.
It is interesting to see how her religious faith and upbringing has had a dramatic impact on the path her life has taken. She says in her own words during the interview that see believes she would have been a different person without the presence of the Catholic missionaries and foremost nuns in her youth. Whatching these women give their life in service half way accross the world along with see the global fight for justice during the Civil Rights era enabled her to actualize and see worthiness in being concerned with your neighbor.
Still another highly important religious element for Wangari was the "pagan" roots of her tribe, whose spritual rituals they associated with certain fig trees gave them significant prominence in her mind. It is hard to imagine that without her mother telling her as a young girl that these are the trees we don't touch that Wangari would later see the central thread that connected the socio-ecological problems of day with a root cause. So as she said, with development they often get caught up in the changes and novelty of industrialization and don't realize with the advance of progress their is often vital and relevant things being lost in the process.
Missionaries and colonization has stripped the Wangari's people of their inherent stewardship of the land and environmental, in attempt to transform a seemingly backward people to civilization they disregarded the knowledge and insights they already had to offer. It is sad to see that in the introduction of a new religion and culture, their also had to be a customary suppression of the old culture and religion as inferior. But Wangari's ability to withstand aspects of the new world and the old world of her ancestors benefited her much more greatly than total submergion into western civilization and values. She was ultimately able to not only help herself by holding onto her roots but start an entire green revolution.
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