Monday, September 26, 2011

The Meltingpot Mourns a Hero: Wangari Maathai

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Many of you regular readers know that I fiercely enjoy the meltingpot-ness of my life. The connections I have made through nature and nurture with people from all walks of life continue to amaze and inspire me. Case in point. I have two Kenyan friends. One I met in college. The other I met in New York City right after college. Let's call her N.

N. and I grew up together in our twenties, going to graduate school, falling in love, getting married, and deciding who we really wanted to be. We gave birth within months of one another and now we are the godparents of each other's kids. In other words, N. and I are family.

So, imagine my surprise when one day in 2004, when Kenyan environmental activist and super woman, Wangari Maathai -- the woman who planted all those trees in Kenya  -- was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and N. casually tells me, "Oh, yeah, she's my godmother."Excuse me? Yes, I know two Kenyans, and one of them is the goddaughter to Wangari Maathai! So, since I consider N. my sister, then Ms. Maathai, is like my family. My kids figured it that way too, and I let them. What better way to engage and connect them to the wider world? They especially got a kick out of the children's book about Ms. Maathai's life. They were like, "Hey Madrina's madrina is in a book!" (FYI: Madrina is godmother in Spanish.)

So, today we mourn because Wangari Maathai passed away today at age 71 from cancer. She will be truly missed. To read more about her remarkable life, you can read her obit in today's New York Times. Be inspired.



Anonymous said...

What a nice tribute to Dr. Maathai. While I never met her personally, I attended a conference where she was a featured speaker in April this year. Her presentation was filled with a lot of passion. She was the only woman presenter and she handled the many questions with grace and intelligence. At one point, I was standing very near her, but she was engaged in another conversation. If I had known then that was my only opportunity to speak to her, I would have told her how much I enjoyed her presentation. She will be missed by many. She made wonderful contributions to the world despite her personal hardships.

LT said...

Thank you for sharing. Dr. Maathai was truly an inspiration to us all.

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What a sensible loss, she was a great person and a great activist