Wednesday, 26 September 2012

PM Odinga’s Remarks at the 1st Anniversary of Prof. Wangari Maathai

Prime Minister Raila Odinga is received by family members of the late Prof. Wangari Maathai at Green Belt Movement Headquarters during the 1st memorial Anniversary for Professor Wangari Muta Maathai in Nairobi
Nairobi, Tuesday, September 25, 2012 PMPS

Some critical questions come to mind as we mark the first anniversary of the death of Prof Wangari Maathai. Wangari’s life story reminds us of the power that is within all of us. 

What we do with that power is, however, a different story. We can use the power and the influence to damage and to degrade for short term gains. 

We can also use our power and influence to mobilize our people to save the nation and move it forward. The choice is ours. 

Wangari’s problem was not that Kenyans did not appreciate the need to conserve forests and parks and the environment in general. Her problem stemmed from the fact that her movement and her beliefs came to be seen as a threat to the rich, the powerful and the status quo. 

Her ideas represented a push for a change in the direction the country was moving. And change always threatens those benefiting from the Status Quo. 

And such people do not take it lying down. They fight back, viciously. That is why Wangari could be beaten, arrested and vilified for the simple act of planting a tree. Her life proves to us that, even simple acts of change like restoring forests, never come easy. But the fruits of change are good for the greater majority.

PM Raila Odinga unveiling Kenya Postal Corporation new stamp in honour of 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate Prof.Wangari Maathai at Green Belt Movement Headquarters

Come to think of it and ask yourself, what if Wangari had sat back and allowed Karura Forest to be destroyed? What if she coiled in fear and let Central Park and Uhuru Park be turned into concrete jungles?

We still face challenges for which we need brave champions.

We have a challenge of ensuring a clean environment that will help improve lives by providing clean water and firewood for cooking and thereby decreasing conflict.

We have seen fighting over different parts of our country over dwindling water and pastures. Our harvests have equally dwindled.

We will need more brave Kenyans to stand up for the restoration of our environment while at the same time ensuring that the people are taken care of in the process.

We need such courage to be brought into the field of politics and policy formulation.

Usually, this is where the mess begins.

When politicians and policy makers go for what is expedient and easy as opposed to what is necessary however hard, the nation is in peril.

Today more than ever, our country needs leadership that reminds our people that we are one nation and not a collection of tribes, tongues, religions and sexes.

We need a leadership that will resist the pull and the allure of the tribe; a leadership that will remind our people of the words of President Reagan…

“If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

Wangari Maathai stood up at a very difficult time. In her honour, I want to appeal to more women to go for leadership positions in the coming elections.

With the new Constitution, the women will not have to struggle as hard as Wangari did.

As Prime Minister, and as a leader of powerful political party, I promise to lend a hand of support to such women, ensure security and a level playing field for them and to help lift them up.

Rt. Hon Raila Odinga, EGH, MP, Prime Minister

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