Mzansi Afrika

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Friday, October 08, 2004

An African women wins Nobel Peace Prize

Kenyan environmentalist and human rights campaigner Wangari Maathai has won the Nobel Peace Prize. She is the first African woman to be awarded the peace prize since it was created in 1901. The prize committee says Mrs Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, is an example for all Africans fighting for democracy and peace.

Some quotes from Wangari Maathai:

"All through the ages the African people have made efforts to deliver themselves from oppressive forces. It is important that a critical mass of Africans do not accept the verdict that the world tries to push down their throat so as to give up and succumb. The struggle must continue. It is important to nurture any new ideas and initiatives which can make a difference for Africa."

"We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill, those who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind. To do so effectively, the world needs a global ethic with values which give meaning to life experiences and, more than religious institutions and dogmas, sustain the non-material dimension of humanity. Mankind's universal values of love, compassion, solidarity, caring and tolerance should form the basis for this global ethic which should permeate culture, politics, trade, religion and philosophy. It should also permeate the extended family of the United Nations."

Reuters reports:

"She founded the Green Belt Movement, mainly with women members, which has gone on to plant some 30 million trees around Africa in a campaign to slow deforestation and erosion.
As well as protecting the existing environment, her strategy is to strengthen the basis for ecologically sustainable development.

In 1992 riot police clubbed her and three other women unconscious in central Nairobi during a demonstration. She has been teargassed, threatened with death by anonymous callers, and once thrown into jail overnight for leading protests.

Maathai went to court numerous times to block forest clearances by the former government of President Daniel arap Moi. He lost power in 2002 elections in which Maathai won a parliamentary seat for the victorious opposition.

Maathai was made an assistant environment minister but says forest clearances continue and has threatened to quit the government.
"It's a matter of life and death for this country," Maathai once said of clearances. "The Kenyan forests are facing extinction and it is a man-made problem."


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