Remembering Wangari Maathai: 10 Quotes From The Late Kenyan Nobel Prize laureate



Wangari Maathai never forgot about the need to take care of the environment and never failed to educate others on that need. She may have died on the 25th of September 2011 after a fight with ovarian cancer but through her words and her work she continues to be remembered.

She was the founder of the Green Belt Movement and in 2004, Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Green Belt Movement (GBM) focuses on poverty reduction and environmental conservation through tree planting.

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In her time, she was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree and after becoming the chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor in 1976 and 1977 she also became the first woman to attain those positions in the region.



Professor Wangari Maathai lived an inspiring life struggling for democracy, human rights, and environmental conservation and even now we look back at some of the words she left us with.

10 Quotes From Wangari Maathai

  • Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things you fight for and then you protect.
  • Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them, even more, respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don’t need a diploma to plant a tree.
  • There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.
  • No matter how dark the cloud, there is always a thin, silver lining, and that is what we must look for. The silver lining will come, if not to us then to next generation or the generation after that. And maybe with that generation, the lining will no longer be thin.

Wangari Maathai

  • The generation that destroys the environment is not the generation that pays the price. That is the problem.
  • Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy, and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.
  • There comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness . . . that time is now.
  • A tree has roots in the soil yet reaches to the sky. It tells us that in order to aspire we need to be grounded and that no matter how high we go it is from our roots that we draw sustenance. It is a reminder to all of us who have had success that we cannot forget where we came from. It signifies that no matter how powerful we become in government or how many awards we receive, our power and strength and our ability to reach our goals depend on the people, those whose work remain unseen, who are the soil out of which we grow, the shoulders on which we stand

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  • I’m very conscious of the fact that you can’t do it alone. It’s teamwork. When you do it alone you run the risk that when you are no longer there nobody else will do it.
  • We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. Recognizing that sustainable development, democracy, and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come