The legacy of Wangari Maathai Continues

Wangari Maathai Institute and University of Copenhagen organized celebration for Africa Environment and Wangari Maathai Day at Gatugi Primary school in Othaya, Nyeri. The celebration was held under the gigantic fig tree Ficus lutea signifying the value of trees in environment conservation.

The University of Copenhagen students under the Sluse programme were in the Country as part of field experiential learning course, which is annually coordinated by the two Universities, which will run from 3rd to 14th March 2023. 24 students from 11 nationalities were represented during the occasion, faculty members from University of Nairobi, University of Copenhagen, and the Gatugi primary fraternity and local administrators.  

The choice of Gatugi Primary was purposely done to create awareness in young minds on the need to take care of the environment; and particularly to create awareness on the African Union nomination of 3rd of March as African environment and Wangari Maathai Day, in recognition of the works and walks of Noble Lauretee Prof Wangari Maathai, which is important for promotion of sustainability in Africa and continued support of the Wangari Maathai Legacy. 

Mrs. Kamau the Gatugi Primary school head teacher welcomed the WMI UoC team, and noted the importance of the day in environment conservation and appreciated the choice of the school as the venue to celebrate African environment and Wangari Maathai day.  The pupils promised to pass the message of the day to their parents and community members and each promised to plant a tree at their home. Five trees were planted at the school, which will serve as reminder of African Environment and Wangari Maathai day.

The Vice Chancellor Prof. Kiama commemorated the Wangari Maathai day by planting a tree at the Chancellor’s court.  He noted on the importance of this day.  ‘’The need for individual action to heal the earth by growing trees, promoting cultures of peace is necessary now than ever before especially due to threat posed by climate change. Climate change is responsible for acute water scarcity, failing agricultural productivity; Climate induced diseases and rising temperatures. The decision by Africa Union in 2012 to honor and immortalize Wangari Maathai was noble and is highly appreciated’’. He also called upon the university to take action and plant two trees during the coming rainy season.

Wangari Maathai Institute being aware of the need for Pan Africa awareness creation of the day also undertook social media campaigns with the call for ”We have a responsibility as African to take care of our environment and vigorously protect it, individually taking action" noted the Director WMI Dr. Thuita Thenya. The Chairman Department of Earth Climate Sciences Prof. Daniel Olago retaliated on the importance of this day. He said ‘’The Department of Earth and Climate Sciences continues to carry the stellar vision of the legendary Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai by offering exciting and broad-based multi- and trans-disciplinary postgraduate courses in Environmental Governance, Climate Change Science and Climate Change Adaptation’’.

UON and UoC have implemented the Sluse programme since 2012 and the start of the programme coincides with 3rd March, and hence two universities have annually celebrated the day as a start of the experiential field class. The course provide the masters students with the opportunity experience challenges faced by community in natural resources and the possible solutions that community formulate including in handling climate change.