If you are interested in justice, if you are interested in the struggle for justice, and if you need a shot in the arm to bolster your courage to fight through the mundane and the red-tape, then I’ve got a book suggestion for you:Â Wangari Maathai, Unbowed:Â A Memoir (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006).
It is always impossible to summarize a person’s memoir, especially someone with the kind of life Wangari Muta Maathai has had. She grew up in the Central Highlands of Kenya, north a few hours of Nairobi. She was educated in Roman Catholic schools, came to the USA for a bachelor and master degree, and then got a PhD in Germany — in veterinary studies. She became a professor, then began a long, powerful journey to reclaim the forests of Kenya. This led her to found the famous Green Belt Movement and to fight for justice in her native land. In 2004 she won the Nobel Peace Prize.
What struck me about Wangari Maathai is her courage. Over and over her memoir rehearses stories from her life that any sympathetic reader will say, “Wow, what courage.” She was publicly humiliated by the regime’s powers, imprisoned, beaten, hidden, and chased. She continued to speak her mind and came to see three essential features of a just society:
1. Human rights.
3. Cultures of peace.
Not only has she been the leader of an international movement to plant trees — to restore environments and cultures and economies — but she fought hard for the rise of democracy in Kenya (no perfect country, to be sure.)
I could go on. I highly recommend this memoir. I’m wondering if some have heard her, read her books, or have other observations about this noble woman willing to fight injustice in her own way.