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.
Despite workmanlike prose, this memoir...documents the remarkable achievements of an influential environmentalist and activist.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Starred Review: Nobel laureate, visionary, and hero, Maathai has restored humankind's innate if nearly lost knowledge of the intrinsic connection between thriving, wisely managed ecosystems and health, justice, and peace.
Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement demonstrate the intimate connection between sustainable management of Africa's rich natural resources, democracy, good governance and peace. Such are the solutions that will bring new light to Africa. I hope the world will support her vision of hope.
Wangari Maathai's memoir is direct, honest, and beautifully written–a gripping account of modern Africa's trials and triumphs, a universal story of courage, persistence, and success against great odds in a noble cause.
Jonathon Porritt, Co-Founder and Programme Director of Forum for the Future
This is an extraordinary account of an extraordinary woman's life. The courage, compassion and natural wisdom that shine out from these pages are hugely inspiring for campaigners the world over. And for those who are still struggling to find what ‘sustainable development' really means in practice, you need look no further than Wangari Maathai's own life, and the astonishing success of the Green Belt Movement.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o, author of Wizard of the Crow
Concrete and mesmerizing, Unbowed is the story of resistance, a refusal to be bowed down by oppression and humiliation in the pursuit of the excellent and the heroic in society.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, 8 October 2004
Wangari Maathai will be the first woman from Africa to be honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize. She will also be the first African from the vast area between South Africa and Egypt to be awarded the prize. She represents an example and a source of inspiration for everyone in Africa fighting for sustainable development, democracy and peace.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Charles Mulisa Wonder woman Incredibly brilliant book that is beset with relevant history and a story of courage, conviction and triumph. Wangari Maathai is indded a wonder woman whose story will inspire many, especially arousing the conscienceness of environments role to... Read More
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 1839. Their
control of the East African coast continued until British interests took over. By the late 19th century the slave trade on the open seas had been completely
outlawed by the British and the Omani's had little ability to resist the British
navy's enforcement of the directive.
This is the long-hidden saga of how a handful of Americans and Kenyans fought the British colonial government, the U.S. State Department, and segregation to "airlift" to U.S. universities, between 1959 and 1963, nearly 800 young East African men and women who would go on to change the world.
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