“People often ask what drives me. Perhaps the more difficult question would be: What would it take to stop me? I’m driven by opportunities to confront the problems before my eyes”.
— Wangari Maathia
She had a smile that spoke of old truths and new possibilities, in a language only the soul can understand.
A heart that beat in time with the land that sustained her ancestors for generations.
A mind that understood there is no turning away from the issues that, keep women powerless, communities in poverty, bad government in place and endanger the planet.
And a spirit that would not rest until she bridged the gap between the past and the present ensuring a future where all generations and species could thrive together.
As a woman whose spirituality is firmly rooted in nature, I would have loved to have known Wangari Maathai, to have sat under an ancient fig tree on a riverbank lush and green with native plants talking about past, present and future things. To cry with her over the countless trees lost in the name of progress. To rejoice with her over the millions of women reclaiming their power and the land one seedling at a time. To dance with her in sacred groves where teaching and learning are one in the same. To have stood arm in arm with her and many others fearlessly protecting the vanishing green spaces like the Karura Forest in Kenya and forests throughout Africa and the world.
To have walked with her among communities devastated by decades of deforestation and desertification, teaching people how to reclaim the land by using old and new techniques to save water, re-populate the forests with indigenous plants and regain their connection with the soil that provides for them.
To have listened as she spoke to the women of those communities who bore the brunt of the environment impact, empowering them to take control of the problems and work toward the solutions that would restore their natural world and ensure the continued health and prosperity of their children and their children’s’ children.
To have cheered as she won her seat in parliament after decades of fighting government corruption and facing political harassment and intimidation. And to have seen her face on the day of her inauguration as she recognized her current police escorts, had once been her jailors.
To have been there when she accepted her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Norway, standing spell bound as she called for a new relationship with the Earth, “to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own. To “embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder”.
Yes, I would have loved to have known this woman while she walked this earth she strove so valiantly to protect. Instead, I will get to know her through her works, and writings, (I already have a collection of her books), through her indomitable spirit and the legacy that lives on in her honor.
For me personally, she is Mama Miti, a true Earth Mother. A teacher and a healer who I will continue to learn from throughout the rest of my life. She is the hummingbird determined to do what she can.
Wangari Muti Matthai is the BrightLighter who sowed the seeds of the future and opened the way for us to learn from yesterday, what we need to do today to create a brighter tomorrow.