Swarthmore College Department of

Peace & Conflict Studies Blog

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

A Back to Black Film Festival Presentation

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

7:00 p.m.

Science Center 199

Swarthmore College

Taking Root tells the inspiring story of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya and its unstoppable founder, Wangari Maathai, who, in 2004, became the first environmentalist and first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Taking Root illustrates the development of Maathai’s holistic worldview and model for sustainable development.  Maathai discovered the core of her life’s work when she turned her attention to the rural women with whom she had grown up in Kenya’s central highlands.  Daily life was intolerable: walking exhaustive distances for firewood, clean water was scarce, the soil was eroding, and their children suffered from malnutrition. One hundred years of colonialism and neocolonialism had devastated the forests they’d lived with for centuries.  “Why not plant trees?” Maathai thought and marked the beginning of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya.

Through chilling first person accounts and TV-news footage, Taking Root documents the Green Belt Movement’s dramatic political confrontations of the 1980s and ’90s, a time when Maathai and other Kenyan women endured violent suppression, hunger strike, and risked personal injury. Taking Root also chronicles the women?s successful political action in 2002 that helped to bring down Daniel Arap Moi, dictator of Kenya for 24 years.  Faculty Discussant:  Mark Wallace, Professor of Religion

Sponsored by: Black Studies, Environmental Studies, and the Swarthmore College Library