Table of Contents
Wangari Maathai’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, When A Sapling is Planted promotes a compassionate and reverent love for nature.
Wangari Maathai while receiving the award acknowledges the audience and accepts it on behalf of the people of Kenya and Africa. She encourages women to speak up against injustices. The Green Belt Movement initiated by her in 1977 was to provide the rural women with firewood, clean drinking water, balanced diets, shelter and income.
Women are the major caregivers in Africa, with significant responsibilities for tilling the land and feeding their families. As a result, they are frequently the first to detect environmental harm as resources become scarce and they find themselves unable to support their families.
The women were unable to provide for their basic requirements. This was due to environmental degradation as well as the rise of commercial farming, which overtook the cultivation of domestic food crops. Tree planting seemed a logical solution for addressing some of the women’s initial basic requirements.
Furthermore, tree planting is straightforward, doable, and ensures quick, effective results in a reasonable length of time. The Movement was able to plant over 30 million trees that provide income to support children’s education and household needs. The activity also creates employment and improves soil and watersheds.
Although the Green Belt Movement’s tree-planting initiatives did not initially address concerns of democracy and peace, it quickly became evident that competent environmental governance could not exist without democratic space. As a result, the tree became a symbol for Kenya’s democratic struggle. Citizens came together to protest widespread power abuse, corruption, and environmental degradation. The tree also became a symbol for peace and conflict resolution.
She urged international leaders to extend democratic space and create fair and just societies that encourage citizens’ creativity and vitality to develop. She encouraged young people to engage in activities that will help them achieve their long-term goals.
They have the drive and imagination to create a more sustainable future. Recalling her childhood she shared that there was a stream from which she would drink water, but sadly it has now dried. The goal is to recreate the tadpoles’ home and restore a world of beauty and wonder.
Today, we face a dilemma that necessitates a paradigm shift in our thinking so that humanity’s life-support system is not jeopardised. We are called to help the Earth heal her wounds, healing our own in the process, and to accept all of creation in all of its diversity, beauty, and wonder. Only if we see the need to rekindle our sense of connection to a greater family of life with whom we have shared our evolutionary journey will this happen.