November Book of The Month: UNBOWED: One Woman’s Story
Often referred to as a ‘problematic’ woman. UNBOWED: One Woman’s Story, allows us a glimpse into the complex nature of the late Prof. Wangari Maathai.
In her memoir, we are granted the rare privilege of being able to follow the course of her full life through times and places that defined some of the crucial moments in her personal history, and by extension, the history of Kenya and the world at large.
In her significant and inspiring autobiography, she tells of her education: Years spent at a Catholic missionary school, and her advanced degrees achieved from years of study in the United States; and becoming the first woman to earn both a PhD and to head a university department in Kenya. She tells of her seemingly endless altercations with the government of Daniel Arap Moi, and of the incessant political, socio-economic and personal reasons that forced her to establish the Green Belt Movement, in 1977.
Finding its roots in Kenya, the organization has spread throughout Africa. The Green Belt Movement helps restore indigenous forests by employing local women to plant trees in their respective villages.
The book also brings out the sharp ideas and beliefs that Maathai worked her whole life to protect and embody. We see her feminism brought out in her fight for the equal rights of women in both the private and the public sphere.
She’s been faced with numerous attacks on her life. In the pages of UNBOWED, Maathai recalls ‘…Sneaking into Karura Forest in northern Nairobi through a back way, wading through a cold stream, and planting trees on a forest site given over to private developers. The police placed there to protect the land against vicious people armed with tree seedlings let me go that time, but, on a subsequent visit, hired thugs with sticks to beat me badly enough to send me to the hospital.’ And yet, in spite of this, she was relentless, that constant thorn in the side of the government of the day.
In UNBOWED, bask in the charisma of a hugely humble woman whose unique story of singular survival carries, in the midst of it, an inspiring message of hope. Hers is an extraordinary story, straddling dissimilar worlds and evolving times, and revealing what the courage, tenacity and humour of one woman can achieve; how ‘a small a thing as planting a seedling and watering it can make all the difference in the world’.
You can buy your copy using this link