Source: The Star (Nairobi)
23 September 2011
Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai is admitted at Nairobi Hospital. It is not clear what the former Tetu MP is suffering from but family sources say “her health has not been very good for the better part of this year”. “She did not want her health status to be a public matter,” said a source at Nairobi Hospital. She has checked into the hospital several times this year and reduced her busy public schedule.
Doctors who attended to the celebrated environmentalist did not divulge cause of admission citing patient’s confidentiality. One doctor however said she has been admitted for more than a week. Staff at the Green Belt Movement offices said programmes have not been affected because the organisation is currently run independently with university don Prof Karanja Njoroge as the executive director.
Maathai has led a particularly busy and public life since her involvement in the National Council of Women of Kenya in 1976. Her diary literally exploded in 2004 when she won the Nobel peace prize for her efforts in environmental conservation. She was nominated to numerous initiatives including being the roving ambassador of the Congo basin, promoting the millennium development goals and promoting the Mottainai concept of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Respect.
She has also addressed numerous global events including the UN General Assembly and is still involved in the ongoing climate change negotiations, which move to Durban, South Africa in December. “She has reduced her activities of late,” said a staff at GBM. “She is not as strong but her health is not an issue she prefers to discuss.”
Although Maathai has been the face of environmental campaign in Kenya for the last 30 years, she has recently let her organisation operate independently, mostly because of her increasing international engagements. GBM has also become less combative instead preferring to negotiate with government institutions on environmental issues.Maathai has previous found herself in hospital several times, but after being brutally beaten by police during President Moi’s era. She was in 1992 hospitalised after she was beaten unconscious by police during a hunger strike. Seven years later, her head was gashed and many of her supporters injured when Green Belt Movement attempted to replace trees cut by real estate developers at Karura Forest.
At one time, Amnesty International sponsored a letter writing campaign to the government and President Moi to get her freed. “I have invested 20 years of my life in this campaign for the environment and I’m still only scratching the surface. I am confident of winning. Nobody will build anything (in the forest) as long as we live. We cannot dignify theft,” she said in 2001 while rededicating herself to the fight to save Karura Forest.