a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She was educated in the United States at Mount St. Scholastica and the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the University of Nairobi in Kenya. In the 1970s, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women's rights.
Let this list of 16 quotations by the Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai lead you to an inspirational day. Recharge yourself with motivational people, planting, issues sayings, and satisfy your hunger for a better life.
What are the best Wangari Maathai quotes?
We've made this hand-picked collection of quotes to show you what is Wangari Maathai truly willing to say and leave for generations. Whether an inspirational quote or a motivational message about giving your best, we can all benefit from the wisdom, captured within these words.
And so I'm saying that, yes, colonialism was terrible, and I describe it as a legacy of wars, but we ought to be moving away from that by now.
Its the little things citizens do. Thats what will make the difference.
For me, one of the major reasons to move beyond just the planting of trees was that I have tendency to look at the causes of a problem. We often preoccupy ourselves with the symptoms, whereas if we went to the root cause of the problems, we would be able to overcome the problems once and for all.
African women in general need to know that it's OK for them to be the way they are - to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.
There are certain areas where foreign investors can help the local people to generate wealth, and improve their quality of life. Some companies, for example, Del Monte, which produces pineapples in Kenya, pay a huge amount of taxes, I am sure, to the Kenyan government, and they do create jobs for thousands of locals.
The government of Qatar, as I mentioned, has proposed to come and lease Kenya's Tana River delta in order to farm there. What I am not sure of is, has an environmental impact assessment been made to ensure that exploiting this delta for agricultural activities is the best way we can use the delta?We must be concerned about the long-term impact of agricultural activities in the delta.
If Africa is left behind, she is going to continue pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, especially carbon. She's going to continue logging the forests, she's going to continue burning charcoal, she is going to continue practicing agricultural activities that destroy the environment, and sooner or later Africa's problem will become a global problem.
The issue of carbon is one area where we really need to work together and if people don't have the technology they need, that technology needs to be made available and affordable.
The developed world should be willing to help [Africa] and support her and make this energy affordable.
Education of course is a very empowering experience, so many people who went to school also managed to improve their quality of life much faster because they could get a job, they could get money, and with money you could buy things that you cannot buy if you don't have money.
The living conditions of the poor must be improved if we really want to save our environment
We tend to put the environment last because we think the first thing we have to do is eliminate poverty and send children to school and provide health.
You cannot blame the mismanagement of the economy or the fact that we have not invested adequately in education in order to give our people the knowledge, the skills and the technology that they need in order to be able to use the resources that Africa has to gain wealth.
First of all, farmers should work with universities and research institutions in the country, and hopefully with the government.
I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we also improve governance.
Tradition sometimes excludes the girl child from inheriting;
or single women may not want to be perceived as pursuing too much property. The law has come a long way in favor of the woman, but it is the tradition, the attitudes, that we often have to fight.
When you know who you are you are free.
Why do we have to have people come from afar to come and grow food for us, or to grow food to sell to us? It is partly because we are almost becoming used to people doing things for us. Like somebody else is going to solve that problem for us. And that to me is very disempowering system.
Now when Nile perch was introduced [into Lake Victoria], I don't think enough research was done; maybe it was done, maybe it was not. But Nile perch is a huge fish. So it ate all the little fish, and it grew into a monster which the local people could not fish with their little boats and their little nets.
Nile perch is a fish that was introduced into Lake Victoria.
The reason that fish was introduced into Lake Victoria was because it was decided that the people living near the lake needed more proteins than they were getting.
You can't reduce poverty in a vacuum. You are doing it in an environment.
Quite often when you help poor people, they don't think about the environment.
They think about survival.
That's the way I do things when I want to celebrate, I always plant a tree.
And so I got an indigenous tree, called Nandi flame, it has this beautiful red flowers. When it is in flower it is like it is in flame.
It would be good for us Africans to accept ourselves as we are and recapture some of the positive aspects of our culture.
I think some of these solutions are prepared in an office without a full understanding of the local situation.
One of the reasons why I say we all need to work together to save the Congo forest, because if we don't save the Congo forest, the Amazon forest and the southeast Asia forest, if those forests release the carbon they are trapping at the moment, much of what you will be doing in the North will be negated by the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere.
I think [GMO] is one area where the is a need for legal regulations to make sure that companies - because at the moment, companies are the ones that have this technology - will not use this technology in a way that could adversely affect the people.
We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all.
One of the reasons why we started the Green Belt Movement is to work with these ordinary peasant farmers so as to educate them that, despite the fact that they are poor, it is in their interest to protect the soil that they have, to protect the forest they have, to protect the land that they have, because if they don't do it, things can be only worse tomorrow for them for them and for their children.
I was particularly talking with respect to aid, because that to me is one area that can make people so dependent, and unfortunately, that dependency starts with the government.
So GMOs, who knows? Maybe GMOs will come, they will get maize that produces double. But who knows what else may happen to the maize?
There is no reason why a company like Monsanto, for example, that is pushing GMOs, cannot go to Kenya, partner with the university, partner with the research institutions, and try to promote - in a responsible way - advanced techniques to help farmers. But this should be done in such a way that the farmers' livelihoods are not undermined because the government is irresponsible or careless, or because it is compromised.
As a scientist I cannot say we don't want to hear anything about GMOs, because these are advances in science. But I think its also important, especially when you are dealing with food, to be cautious.
When you think of all the conflicts we have - whether those conflicts are local, whether they are regional or global - these conflicts are often over the management, the distribution of resources. If these resources are very valuable, if these resources are scarce, if these resources are degraded, there is going to be competition.
It was easy to persecute me without people feeling ashamed.
It was easy to vilify me and project me as a woman who was not following the tradition of a 'good African woman' and as a highly educated elitist who was trying to show innocent African women ways of doing things that were not acceptable to African men.
When I first started, it was really an innocent response to the needs of women in rural areas. When we started planting trees to meet their needs, there was nothing beyond that. I did not see all the issues that I have to come to deal with.
One of the reasons why I've written The Challenge for Africa is to save it.
Surely there are so many problems we can solve in Africa, but first and foremost, we need a government that feels responsible to protect their own people from the exploitations, from the misuse, from the mistreatment that they can easily get.
But when you have bad governance, of course, these resources are destroyed: The forests are deforested, there is illegal logging, there is soil erosion. I got pulled deeper and deeper and saw how these issues become linked to governance, to corruption, to dictatorship.
Some say that AIDS came from the monkeys, and I doubt that because we have been living with monkeys from time immemorial, others say it was a curse from God, but I say it cannot be that.
After Hurricane Katrina, many people said that the levees were not as effective as the natural vegetation that had been removed at the coast. So that means as we develop these seaside land masses, we need to have enough knowledge to not regret in the future. We know that the US government is literally buying these lands back to allow them to be rehabilitated.
Nobody in the world is completely dependent on another person, but we are all interdependent.
We see that the environment is something to exploit, because we see the environment in terms of minerals for example, or forests, or even raw materials that we produce on our land, or even land itself. We see it in terms of what we can exploit rather than the medium in which all of these activities have to take place.
Sometimes we become bound by other people's thoughts because we are not sure about ourselves.
What I am trying to say is that they need to learn to rely on themselves and to learn from other people, and when you learn something from other people, then you keep moving onward for yourself.
People are dynamic. They change, and soon as there are enough of you, things change [for a whole society].
Obviously the world is moving away from high carbon energy to low carbon energy, and eventually moving away toward renewable energy. So it is in the interest of Africa to move towards that, because that's where the world is moving.
Yet now the industrialized world is moving away from fossil fuels and moving towards renewable sources of energy. And because we have not invested so much into education, we don't have the technology and sometimes we don't even have the capital to buy this technology.
For example, they have land. The government of Qatar wants to lease the Tana River delta, which is in Kenya, from the Kenyan government, so that they can produce food there. People in Kenya need food. We have people who have studied agriculture. Why is it that if we really need food, we cannot go into the delta and develop our own food?
I'm sure the government of Qatar is not coming in to grow food for the people of Kenya; it's coming to grow food to sell. If it can also sell to the people of Kenya, well, then good. I think that the moves can be helpful, but I think that the history that Africa knows, as I say in my book, has been a history of exploitation.