Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, died on Sunday after a long struggle with cancer. She was 71 years old. In 1977, she spearheaded the struggle against state-backed deforestation in Kenya and founded the Green Belt Movement, which has planted some 45 million trees in the country. She has also been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and democratic development. She won the Right Livelihood Award in 1984. Twenty years later, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. A frequent guest on Democracy Now!, Wangari Maathai last appeared on the show in 2009.
Wangari Maathai: “I would like to say this: if the more than 4,000 scientists who have been working on this issue are wrong, this is one issue that we cannot experiment with. We cannot wait until the seas rise, the rivers dry up, and our people are dying and migrating and running away. We cannot wait to see more fires, such as we are seeing in California, erratic fires. We cannot wait to see the kind of floods that we see in Bangladesh, that we see in West Africa. We are already seeing islands that are literally drowning. So, let us not experiment with our lives and that of our children.”