As a national mourning ceremony was conducted in Kenya in honor of the fallen Kenyan Nobel prize laureate, Prof. Wangari Maathai, a memorial service was also held on Saturday by the Kenyan community in the state of North Carolina where the late icon was honored with a Doctorate from the Meredith College.
The memorial was capped by the visiting of the site where the tree Professor Maathai planted in the college continues to grow. They took pictures and decorated the tree with balloons. Today the tree is a symbol of Professor Maathai presence in this institution of higher education and as well as a symbol and place where the Kenyan community in this city can remember one of their heroes.
On behalf of the community of Kenyans and friends of the late Professor, Captain George Njue said, “The late Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai was no stranger to Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina State. She was here in 2009 when she led the Meredith College Community in tree planting. A tree she planted, herself, stands right next to Jones Chapel and is a cherished memory of her. She was a very respected environmentalist, who in her own special ways, linked world peace, with poverty and the environment. This won the heart of many in the world and was awarded a Doctorate Degree by Meredith College. Her death the environment loses one of its greatest keepers. To us Kenyans she has taught us to ask ourselves what we have done for Kenya and not what has Kenya done for us.”
Wangari Muta Mary Jo Maathai, aged 71, was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. In the 1970s, She founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental non-governmental organization focused on the planting of trees, environmental conservation, and women’s rights.
In 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” She served as assistant minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005.
Maathai died of complications from ovarian cancer.