Wangari Maathai was the first African woman and first environmentalist to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1977 in Kenya, she started the Green Belt Movement. Wangari’s goals had been to use tree planting to restore the environment while providing income and resources to African women. The group’s objectives broadened to the protection of human and environmental rights, civic education, and the promotion of democratic values while valuing the cultural heritage of Africa. The GBM has now planted tens of millions of trees.
In her acceptance speech, Wangari explains that “the state of any country’s environment is a reflection of the kind of governance in place, and without good governance there can be no peace.” The efforts of the GBM and other organizations led to the peaceful transition to a democratic society in Kenya, and the tree became a symbol of the democratic struggle. Her speech is strikingly illustrated and followed by an analysis written by Laia de Ahumada.
The Speak Out series publishes the most inspiring speeches of our times, then deconstructs them to give young readers a deeper understanding of global issues and the power of language to influence them.
Reading Age: 9-12