The Nairobi government has not confirmed if it will rename Limuru Road after Prof Wangari Maathai. Correspondent David Njagi spoke to her daughter, WANJIRA MAATHAI, now the head of Greenbelt Movement
Nairobi county assembly has just passed a motion to rename Limuru Road after Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. Tell us about the petition that led to this motion?
The petition was launched by Storymoja and is exciting and is indicative of the tribute and sense of commitment people feel towards the late Prof Wangari Maathai (left).
Kenyans want to do something for her. The Storymoja petition to rename Limuru Road to Wangari Maathai Road is so fitting and can be traced online.
Do you expect the county government will effect this?
We expect the governor to sign it because the late Prof Maathai’s life work was central to Karura Forest.
One of her biggest and most challenging fights in environmental activism was at Karura forest, which sits along Limuru Road. She quite literally almost lost her life there.
It it fitting that close to 5,000 Kenyans have signed the petition to have the road changed to Wangari Maathai Road.
I am excited about it and I would love to see it happen because this is a way for me as her daughter to say thank you to my mother for what she did for me but also what she did for Kenyans.
What is the Wangari Muta Maathai House?
It is a campaign that took off on Thursday, September 17th, through the hash tag #mylittlething. It is meant to raise awareness about the power of each of us to make a difference and be agents of change just like Wangari Maathai.
That she was Kenyan and an African makes her one of us. We are using her legacy to encourage people to emulate her by flagging her famous quotes such as: “It is the little things that citizens do that will make a difference. My little thing is planting trees. What is your little thing?”
The campaign has gone viral and followers are reacting to the question sharing what their little thing is. That is exactly the kind of excitement we are trying to build. The Wangari Muta Maathai House will be a memorial museum project paying tribute to her life and work.
It will display creativity, innovation, all her awards, her work, and certainly her speeches, to enable visitors relate with her voice again. It will be spacious and open to everybody who wishes to be inspired by her life’s achievements.
It offers visitors an opportunity to relate with different aspects of her life including politics, activism, movement builder, environmentalist, mother, and womanhood, among others.
She was courageous and an inspiring leader. This is what the Wangari Muta Maathai House is about.
Kenya played a key role in creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What’s your take?
One of the wonderful things about the SDGs is that, they are another set of ambitious goals and targets on development.
They have looked a little bit more into the interconnectedness between some of the difficult issues facing the planet.
The SDGs on energy, environment and education excite me very much. For instance, the SDG on education captures the mainstream educational focus. This is the goal that talks about education for sustainability.
Kenya has made a lot of progress in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially on education and access to health.
But we still are not there yet. That is why the SDGs are so important.
Kenya will also be present at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) event in Paris, France, towards the end of the year. What should we expect from the meeting?
I hope we get a binding agreement at the COP 21 meeting in Paris. I am interested in the restoration agenda.
In Bonn, there was the Bonn challenge, a global target to restore 150 million hectares of land with trees and vegetation.
Then in New York last year, there was the New York forest declaration that added 200 million hectares to the Bonn’s 150 million target.
Presently, the world has a global target to restore 250 million hectares of land across the globe with trees and vegetation.
Different countries are have begun putting forward their contributions to those targets.
My passion is that at the COP 21 meeting in Paris, Africa will put forward ambitious targets for the continent’s restoration agenda.
How many millions of hectares is Kenya going to commit to working on restoring so that we can detoxify our world?
I know the Green Belt Movement is part of the restoration movement in Kenya.