Sunday, October 2, 2011

A poem for Wangari Wa Maathai, a tribute

We saw and felt her energy speaking like a girl! I danced with her in a meeting and she was full of vigor! That  was in Nyeri. I was in Oslo in June 2009 when she gave a wonderful speech. I shall not let her go quietly into that gentle night.. I rage! (Dylan Thoma's Poem)

Kenya has lost a brave, bold and humble warrior for freedom and the environment. Wangari Muta Maathai 
( her biography is titled Unbowed) is going to be sorely missed in Kenya. 

She was the first woman to become a doctor and a professor in Kenya. She is a Nobel laureate for Peace.

Wangari's voice united Kenyans. She was loved. She did not care for ethinic connections. She was just. She fought relentlessly for women and she planted trees and helped poor people to do the same. This way, they not only generated an income but also helped clean the environment.
Like most Kenyans I met Wangari. And felt that she was a friend. She was like that.

Wangari Wa Maathai
died on
26th September 2011
Poem for Wangari
by Philo Ikonya ©

After the tears-  Wangari
Trees are celebrating - Wangari
The rivers singing - Wangari
The women rising - Wangari
The girls winning - Wangari
The world is dancing- Wangari
It is breathing - Wangari
You cured our lungs - Wangari
You cleaned our water- Wangari
And as for poverty - Wangari
You run it out of town- Wangari
out of our villages - Wangari
On barefeet - Wangari
With ABC and 123 - Wangari
Dictators tremble - Wangari
Kenya victorious - Wangari
The earth so precious - Wangari
Wangari smiling Wangari

I dress myself with meaning- Wangari
In your name faith- Wangari
Of the leopard- Wangari
Bold like courage – Wangari
Focused and pouncing- Wangari
Bold mother of the land- Wangari
Daring keeper- Wangari
Of land and freedom- Wangari
Go well- Wangari
Rest in Peace- Wangari


 Wangari Wa Maathai was the 2004 Nobel Prize Winner and the recipient of many other awards for her exceptional commitment, focus and courage. She linked up environmental issues with governance and indicted corruption. She was behind the women who stripped naked at Freedom Corner on the last day of February 1982 to force president Moi to release political prisoners. These prisoners of conscience had spent years languishing in the underground cells of Nyayo House and Nyati House just because they spoke their mind against Moi. IT was a very dark period in Kenya. Wangari was the only beacon of hope. After this the Release Political Prisoners organisation which now works for the disappeared of Kenya (some over 600 people in the days of President Kibaki.. see Philip Alston's Report.. ex Chief of investigations, UN.
You can read more about these brave women some of whom have lived to mourn Wangari.

Wangari stood up alone against President Moi, a very dangerous man at the time. He wanted to build Times Tower right inside Uhuru Park. Uhuru means freedom and it is there that the Freedom Corner where women stripped is.  She won this battle. But again like in the case of the release political prisoners times, she was beaten, humiliated, arrested and taunted. 

In 2002 the people of Tetu Constituency elected Wangari to Parliament. It was such a joyous ocassion. She had wanted and had bid for the presidency of Kenya in 1997. Kibaki elected president in 2002 felt threatened by Wangari at all times. That is the way I saw it. That is why she was made an assistant minister for environment regardless of her more sophisticated knowledge and commitment to serving nature. That is why this president cold shouldered her before cameras in a UN meeting.

But it is he and Moi who mourn her now. And she will have a state burial. For this, I have none of them to thank. I thank Wangari for her resilience and her ever beautiful smile.
Only a very giften woman can be this simple and humble. She left a message that will inspire you. Look at it in seconds here on You Tube.

Now, isn't that refreshing?
Thank you Wangari!

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