Hugely charismatic, humble, and possessed of preternatural luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and a single mother of three, recounts her extraordinary life as a political activist, feminist, and environmentalist in Kenya.
Born in a rural village in 1940, Wangari Maathai was already an iconoclast as a child, determined to get an education even though most girls were uneducated. We see her studying with Catholic missionaries, earning bachelors and masters degrees in the United States, and becoming the first woman both to earn a PhD in East and Central Africa and to head a university department in Kenya. We witness her numerous run-ins with the brutal Moi government. She makes clear the political and personal reasons that compelled her, in 1977, to establish the Green Belt Movement, which spread from Kenya across Africa and which helps restore indigenous forests while assisting rural women by paying them to plant trees in their villages. We see how Maathais extraordinary courage and determination helped transform Kenyas government into the democracy in which she now serves as assistant minister for the environment and as a member of Parliament. And we are with her as she accepts the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in recognition of her contribution to sustainable development, human rights, and peace.
In Unbowed, Wangari Maathai offers an inspiring message of hope and prosperity through self-sufficiency.
I was born the third of six children, and the first girl after two sons, on April 1, 1940, in the small village of Ihithe in the central highlands of what was then British Kenya. My grandparents and parents were also born in this region near the provincial capital of Nyeri, in the foothills of the Aberdare Mountain Range. To the north, jutting into the sky, is Mount Kenya.
Two weeks into mbura ya njahi, the season of the long rains, my mother delivered me at home in a traditional mud-walled house with no electricity or running water. She was assisted by a local midwife as well as women family members and friends. My parents were peasant farmers, members of the Kikuyu community, one of forty-two ethnic groups in Kenya and then, as now, the most populous. They lived from the soil and also kept cattle, goats, and sheep.
At the time of my birth, the land around Ihithe was still lush, green, and fertile. The seasons were so regular that you could almost ...
Unbowed is a powerful tale of one woman's life. Maathai's simple, straightforward style is entirely in character and appropriate with the story she has to tell.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1313 words).
A Short History of Kenya
Kenya is located on the East Coast of Africa, bordered by the Indian Ocean, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia (map). The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was the first European on record to visit the area in 1498. Portuguese rule officially began in 1505, bringing the Portuguese a useful revenue source from tribute payments, but also strategic control of the Indian Ocean allowing them to extract high tariffs on items transported by sea.
By the 17th century, Portuguese influence in the area was on the wane due to British, Dutch and Arab incursions. Omani Arabs colonized the coastal areas in the 19th century, even moving their capital to Zanzibar (an island off the coast of Tanzania) in...
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