In Unbowed, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai recounts her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage. When Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, she began a vital poor people’s environmental movement, focused on the empowerment of women, that soon spread across Africa. Persevering through run-ins with the Kenyan government and personal losses, and jailed and beaten on numerous occasions, Maathai continued to fight tirelessly to save Kenya’s forests and to restore democracy to her beloved country. Infused with her unique luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai’s remarkable story of courage, faith, and the power of persistence is destined to inspire generations to come.
Wangari Maathai, who won the Nobel Prize in 2004, recounts her struggles in an inspirational memoir. Born in Kenya in 1940 in a traditional mud-walled house with no electricity or running water, Maathai had to deal with poverty, racism and old traditions including polygamy. She was fortunate in her mother, who protected and supported her in her dreams to become educated and a leader of her people. She began her journey during the 50s at St. Cecilia's Intermediate Primary School, a place safe from the Mau Mau insurgency, which ended when Kenya won its independence from Britain in 1963. Maathai completed her doctorate in 1971 and became the director of the Kenya Red Cross and the Kenya Association of University Women. She founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, which encouraged rural women to plant trees in order to save the land from the depredations of rampant logging. To date they have planted millions of trees in Kenya. Maathai also became involved in politics, an act that landed her in jail more than once. She married and divorced and lost her beloved mother. Her story is one of rugged determination in the face of opposition and courage in the face of danger. She will be an inspiration to high school students, especially girls. Age Range: Ages 15 to adult. REVIEWER: Janet Julian (Vol. 42, No. 1)