Wangari Maathai

Utne Reader visionary [Originally published as Wangari Maathai in the January-February 1995 issue of Utne Reader]

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Maathai is the courageous founder and coordinator of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, through which 80,000 women have planted at least 15 million trees to prevent desertification in communities throughout Kenya. A retired professor of anatomy, she was the first woman to hold an associate professorship and the first woman to chair a department at the University of Nairobi. Her achievements in community development and environmental protection are all the more amazing in light of continued interference from Kenya’s president, Daniel arap Moi, who cites Maathai as his nemesis.