The Leopard and the Lung

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  • This song remembers the life and legacy of Kenyan environmental and political activist, Wangari Maathai (1940 - 2011). Born in the village of Ihithe, in the central highlands of Kenya, Maathai was able to pursue higher education, a rarity for girls in rural areas in the country's colonial days. Overcoming the opposition of the male students and faculty, she was able to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Nairobi, the first woman in central or eastern Africa to hold a Ph.D.

    Maathai became involved in organizing work for poor Kenyans, as well as founding the Green Belt movement, which has planted millions of trees to prevent soil erosion and provide firewood for cooking fires. She strove to unite the opposition and promote free and fair elections in Kenya, but was arrested on numerous occasions by the government of President Daniel arap Moi. Maathai was finally elected to Parliament in December 2002, after the defeat of arap Moi, and was named as Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife the following month.

    Maathai was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, the First African woman to win the award, for her "contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace".
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