Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Letter from Wangari Maathai

The Green Belt Movement | A Letter from Wangari MaathaiMy friend Diane and I were driving to the dock one morning in December. We were talking and I mentioned that I was having obsessive thoughts and imaginings about planting new trees up and down the street in my increasingly deforested neighbourhood. On generous days I imagined rooting thirteen Gumelame saplings in thirteen pots and when rooted and green, secretly leaving them on the doorsteps of thirteen neighbours, and especially those with whom I've battled with regarding illegal mechanic shops among increasing numbers of tree stumps in all directions... A tree-lined street again, every yard its own little forest again, each one as full of wildlife as ours is right now... I told her I was tired of feeling sad and helpless about the deforestation and wanted to do something proactive about it. Diane told me she was reading the biography of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize because of the fantastic Green Belt Movement that she founded and dedicated to the reforesting of her country and of all Africa. Maathai knows that greening up the Earth saves and empowers us, body and soul. She launched the Billion Tree Campagne last November. We'll definitely plant a new tree in the yard in the next couple of weeks, dedicate it to this effort.

1 comment:

lovemelikethat said...

Wangari Maathai...wow. I woke up today looking for an article in the Progressive (years old) that I'd stumbled across a few months ago for the first time. Was looking for her name...amazing.

It's been years since I've been able to read, and enjoy. Years since I've listened to my poetic voice, or its rhythms, or followed its vision beyond the stones, or curled palm leaves, or foliage I bring home, beyond the art I make with my children, beyond the children's names(!).

Even with that passage of time, just yesterday I went to purchase something for my smallest child, and found a collection of personal essays by Alice Walker in my hand. I placed it back on the shelf three times, and realized I loved the feel of it in my palms, loved the bookcover, loved that the first words I looked at inside were about her consternation with the co-opting of the Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox tales.

She is here with me now, and, now, I know I will read with her. Thanks for that.

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