The roots of a Silverbell tree are slowly expanding into the soil of an Arlington, Va. garden, where it was planted in memory of Kenya’s Dr. Wangari Maathai — like so many other trees growing in Kenya, in Africa, and around the world because of her inspiration.
Dignitaries, colleagues, and friends of Prof. Maathai gathered in the garden behind the worldwide headquarters of The Nature Conservancy on the morning of Oct. 19 to honor the memory of the founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, a heroine of the women’s and environmental movements and the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, in 2004.
“I was deeply saddened to hear of Wangari Maathai’s death last September,” said Kristen Patterson, manager of U.S. Relations for the Conservancy’s Africa Region and organizer of the event. “Prof. was a warm, joyful woman and a true inspiration for the conservation and women’s movements in Kenya and the world. My first thought … was that I wanted to plant a tree in her honor on behalf of The Nature Conservancy.”
Patterson said she had been deeply moved by a 2008 ceremony when she helped plant a fig tree with a Green Belt Movement community group in Tumutumu, near Mount Kenya. The Conservancy first worked with the Green Belt Movement (GBM) in 2008 to plant more than 720,000 trees in Kenya’s Mau Forest over three years.
During the Arlington ceremony, participants picked up a shovel and helped to cover the tree’s roots with soil.
Image Credit: Jordana Fyne (During her first visit to The Nature Conservancy’s headquarters, Ms. Nairimas Ole-Sein, Counsellor, Embassy of the Republic of Kenya helps plant a tree in memory of Wangari Maathai.)