A Hero’s Farewell
September 30, 2011
Hero is not a word I bandy about. In fact it is a word I hardly ever use, at least not in earnest. People are just people after all, right? Well, yes…but there are some people on whose every word I hang, whose writing fills my head with ideas and visions, whose life inspires my own, whose actions I consider heroic.
Wangari Maathai is one of my heroes.
If it seems odd that I write of one recently passed in the present tense I do so not because, regardless of her physically passing on, she is still a hero to me but because Wangari Maathai is still very much present. She is present in the millions of trees that have been planted in Kenya because of her work and the millions of lives that will be nurtured and protected by those trees. She is present in the forests that remain standing because she put her body on the line to stop the bulldozers and chainsaws from destroying the life-giving heritage of Earth for short-term financial gain. She is present in the forests that are regenerating, the living waters that flow again because of the trees that she planted. On the faces of the children escaping the heat of the midday sun, splashing joyously in the cool clean water of the forest stream you can see the smile of Wangari Maathai. In the song of the women potting up seedlings in their community nursery to further regenerate the land that supports them you can hear the voice of Wangari Maathai.
And she spoke some fine, mutinous words too!
If you get on the wrong bus, you’re going to end up in the wrong place. It is time to get off the bus.
Wangari Maathai 1940 – 2011
For anyone that has not seen it I highly recommend the film Taking Root about the life and work of Wangari Maathai.