wangaariI kept stumbling and falling and stumbling and falling as I searched for the good. ‘Why?’ I asked myself. Now I believe that I was on the right path all along, particularly with the Green Belt Movement, but then others told me that I shouldn’t have a career, that I shouldn’t raise my voice, that women are supposed to have a master. That I needed to be someone else. Finally I was able to see that if I had a contribution I wanted to make, I must do it, despite what others said. That I was OK the way I was. That it was all right to be strong. ― Quoted in the article Wangari Maathai:”You Strike The Woman …” by Priscilla Sears in the quarterly In Context #28 (Spring 1991)

Wangari Muta Maathai

On April 1, 1940, Wangari Muta Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, was born in the Nyeri District, Kenya. Maathai earned her Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and German from Mount St. Scholastica College (now Benedictine College) in 1964 and her Master of Science degree in biological sciences from the University of Pittsburgh in 1966. In 1971, Maathai became the first East African woman to receive a Ph. D. when she was granted a Doctorate of Anatomy from the University College of Nairobi.

In 2002, she was elected to parliament and appointed assistant minister in the Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources, a position she held until 2005. On October 8, 2004, it was announced that Maathai had won the Nobel Peace Prize for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace,” the first African woman and environmentalist to win the prize.

The Akosua Report: Facts on The African Diaspora, is written by Akosua Lowery. Follow her on Twitter @AkosuaLowery.

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