Wangari Maathai


“It was easy for me to be ridiculed and for both men and women to perceive that maybe I’m a bit crazy because I’m educated in the West and I have lost some of my basic decency as an African woman—as if being educated was something bad. That is something I had seen for a very long time: When people can’t use you, they ridicule what you represent. I was lucky that I understood that, because when one does not understand that, it is very easy to be broken and to be subdued.”

That is Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai in a 2005 conversation with Mother Jones, shortly after she won the Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai died on September 25th in Nairobi.

Lisa Dusenbery is the former managing editor of The Rumpus. More from this author →