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Published:September 26th, 2011 11:55 EST
Kenya Mourns the Death of Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai

Kenya Mourns the Death of Nobel Peace Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai

By Sophie Akinyi

The country has been thrown into a somber mood following the passing away of Africa`s first woman to clinch the Nobel Peace Prize; Prof. Wangari Maathai.

Prof. Maathai died yesterday (10:00pm at Nairobi Hospital) after a long battle with cancer.

The 71 year old environmentalist cum politician was born in Nyeri-Kenya and was an assistant minister during President Kibaki`s government. She will be greatly remembered for her fierce fight with the government against grabbing of Uhuru Park and Karura Forest. She was also involved in saving the Congo Basin Forest. Academic wise, the deceased was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctoral degree in Biological Science.

This she attained at Mount St. Scholastica College-Atchison, Kansas (1964).

Masters: University of Pittsburg (1966)

PHD: University of Nairobi and Germany (1971)

She also lectured veterinary anatomy at University of Nairobi during the year 1971.

The late professor was the founder of the Green Belt Movement which started with a community based tree planting project before quickly spreading into the environmental conservation and poverty reduction.

Apart from the coveted Nobel Peace Prize (2004-Oslo Norway), Maathai also won 50 other environment related awards. They include: Goldman Environment Award (2004), The Sophie Price (2004), Disney Conservation Award (2006), Woman of the Year Award (1983) among others.

Kenyans are currently flocking her home to give messages of condolence to her family saying it is a great loss to the world as a whole. She leaves behind three children and one grandchild.

May God rest her soul in eternal peace.