Dr. Maathai's Books
Presidential Speaker Series
Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World
(New York: Doubleday Image, 2010)
It is so easy, in our modern world, to feel disconnected from the physical earth. Despite dire warnings and escalating concern over the state of our planet, many people feel out of touch with the natural world. Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai has spent decades working with the Green Belt Movement to help women in rural Kenya plant—and sustain—millions of trees. With their hands in the dirt, these women often find themselves empowered and "at home" in a way they never did before. Maathai wants to impart that feeling to everyone, and believes that the key lies in traditional spiritual values: love for the environment, self-betterment, gratitude and respect, and a commitment to service. While educated in the Christian tradition, Maathai draws inspiration from many faiths, celebrating the Jewish mandate tikkun olam ("repair the world" and renewing the Japanese term mottainai ("don't waste"). Through rededication to these values, she believes, we might finally bring about healing for ourselves and the earth.
The Challenge for Africa
(New York: Pantheon, 2009; Vintage/Anchor, 2010)
The challenges facing Africa today are severe and wide ranging. Yet what we see of them in the media, more often than not, are tableaux vivantes connoting poverty, dependence, and desperation. Wangari Maathai presents a different vision, informed by her three decades as an environmental activist and campaigner for democracy. She illuminates the complex and dynamic nature of the continent, and offers "hard-headed hope" and "realistic options" for change and improvement. With clarity of expression, Maathai analyzes the most egregious "bottlenecks to development in Africa" occurring at the international, national, and individual levels—cultural upheaval and enduring poverty, among them—and deftly describes what Africans can and need to do for themselves, stressing all the while responsibility and accountability.
Unbowed: A Memoir
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)
In Unbowed, Wangari Maathai offers an inspiriting message of hope and prosperity through self-sufficiency. We see her studying with Catholic missionaries, earning bachelor's and master's degrees in the United States, and becoming the first woman both to earn a Ph.D. in East and Central Africa and to head a university department in Kenya. We witness her numerous run-ins with the brutal Moi government and she makes clear the political and personal reasons that compelled her, in 1977, to establish the Green Belt Movement.
The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience
(New York: Lantern Books, 2003, revised 2006)
In The Green Belt Movement, Wangari Maathai tells why she began her movement, how it operates, and where it is going. She includes the philosophy behind it, its challenges and objectives, and the specific steps involved in starting a similar grassroots environmental and social justice organization.