Prof.Wangari Maathai wins PEACE NOBEL PRICE!

 

Update 14.12.2004 ( This site opens a new folder ! )                                                                    Nobel Laureate Maathai Links Environment to Peace, Democracy - OSLO, Norway, December 13, 2004 (ENS) - "As the first African woman to receive this prize, I accept it on behalf of the people of Kenya and Africa, and indeed the world." With these words, Wangari Muta Maathai accepted the Nobel Peace Prize Friday in Oslo. Maathai used her lecture to warn that environmental destruction must be reversed so that "humanity stops threatening its life-support system."

UPDATE 13.12.2004

Oslo Diary: Maathai's Lesson
Mon, 13 Dec 2004 11:49:52 -0800

By Frances Moore Lappé
"The real battle is inside"

The stirring ceremony is over, but not the celebration. Wangari Muta Maathai is officially the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Resplendent in a tangerine-colored gown and head dress, Wangari is being toasted by the head of the Nobel Committee. We lift our especially crafted Nobel wine glasses in the formal hall of the Grand Hotel, Oslo’s finest.

Watching Wangari feted by the Nobel committee, I flash back to Kenya to my last encounter with her there. I remember sitting in her simple, unequipped office, waiting as she pored over files with a funder from Austria. My daughter Anna and I had just spent three days in a Green Belt Movement village, meeting women who are part of the initiative Wangari started 30 years ago – one that has since planted 30 million trees and spread to other African countries.

That was four years ago, and I recall the heart ache I felt as we said good-bye to Wangari. Things didn’t look good. Funding was shaky. Wangari had no deputy to rely on to hold the central office together, even though she herself had to travel often to the villages. Illegal logging continued, with President Moi’s blessing, as did Moi’s hostility toward Wangari and her tree-planters. Within a few months of our return, we learned that Wangari had yet again been arrested for protesting what she called “land grabbing,” and we sent desperate appeals for her release to Moi and to Kenyan newspapers.

Friends call me an optimist, but never would I have imagined, let alone predicted, what four years would bring. Wangari’s long struggle in what Kenyans call the “pro-democracy” movement paid off in the 2002 defeat of Moi’s hand-picked successor, and it swept her into Parliament as she out-polled her nearest opponent 50 to 1. Soon she was named Deputy Minister of the Environment.

Today in Olso, I hear many tributes to Wangari – three alone this evening from members of the Nobel Committee. Each touches me deeply. I try to imagine the depth of satisfaction she must feel, after decades of ridicule, harassment, jailings and even beatings by her opponents.

Yet, for me there is something more. Those lauding her unwavering resolve, stunning accomplishments, and her infectious warmth fail to mention a key piece of her genius. Wangari, the environmentalist, they call her; Wangari, the human rights and womens’ rights and pro-democracy activist. All are accurate. But the reason she is effective, I believe, is that she understands the battle is not about rights, as such, or the environment, as such. She understands the real battle is inside: “ordinary people” making that internal shift – terrifying as it is - to realize the power that is ours.

Tens of thousands of village women who’ve been taught to defer to chiefs, husbands, colonial authorities, multinational corporate marketers and to disparage their own traditions and common sense are gaining, through the Green Belt Movement, the courage to step into the light, saying we have solutions. We can carry responsibility. We can transform our villages and our nation.

Millions cheer that, in selecting Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Committee recognizes that environmental restoration, poverty eradication, and world peace are inseparable. I cheer, too. I also hope that as we wrap our heads around these huge concepts, we let sink in as well that their fruition ultimately depends on something else - something basic, universal, and deeply personal. It is that internal shift; the shedding of our own feelings of powerlessness. Then, like the courageous women of the Green Belt Movement, we can assume responsibility for solutions. This is the best conceivable tribute to the new Nobel Peace Laureate.

Frances Moore Lappé is the co-author of /Hope’s Edge/ < http://www.smallplanetinstitute.org/ > (Tarcher), which chronicles Maathai’s story, and the founder of the Small Planet Fund < http://www.smallplanetfund.org/ >, which supports Maathai’s Green Belt Movement.

http://www.guerrillanews.com/headlines/headline.php?id=414 
She understands the real battle is inside: “ordinary people” making that internal shift – terrifying as it is—to realize the power that is ours.

 

Update 11.12.2004

Wangari's golden day

Story by MUGUMO MUNENE and Agencies
Publication Date: 12/11/2004

Prof Wangari Maathai took to the world stage in a defining moment yesterday and received the 2004 edition of the world's most coveted award, the gold Nobel Peace Prize, at an elaborate ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

With the world as her audience, Prof Maathai made a clarion call for humanity to turn attention to sustainable management of the environment for the sake of future generations.

"In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now. I'm humbled by the recognition and uplifted by the honour," she said.

Prof Maathai, resplendent in a brightly coloured African print dress and a matching head scarf, accepted the award "on behalf of the people of Kenya and Africa." 

Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes described Prof Maathai in glowing terms: "You are an extraordinary example for women throughout Africa, and the rest in the West. You are a true African mother and a true African woman."

It was a colourful ceremony attended by Norwegian royalty and government leaders, Kenya Environment Minister Kalonzo Musyoka, Education assistant minister Beth Mugo and some friends and relatives from home. 

The traditionally rigid and formal ceremony lit up with colour and sound as three dancers and drummers pounded out a brief piece of African music that echoed off the walls of the large auditorium.

The ceremony was beamed to billions of television viewers around the world. At home At home, major television channels including Nation TV carried a live broadcast from Oslo.

Celebrated at home and feted on the global stage, Prof Maathai walked into the hall to a standing ovation from the audience and a royal welcome by trumpeters. She was closely followed by the King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway.

The audience included hundreds of dignitaries, world renowned talk show host and entertainer Oprah Winfrey and Kerry Kennedy, a member of the famous American political dynasty.

She took to the world stage at 3.35pm local time to receive the prize, a gold medal and a diploma. She will separately collect a Sh110 million cheque.

The Nobel Prizes were set up in the 1895 will of Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel, 10 years before Norway won independence from Sweden.

Prof Maathai used her childhood memories to appeal to the world's conscience on the essence of environmental conservation.

"As I conclude I reflect on my childhood experience when I would visit a stream next to our home to fetch water for my mother. I would drink water straight from the stream. Playing among the arrowroot leaves I tried in vain to pick up the strands of frogs eggs, believing they were beads. But every time I put my little fingers under them they would break. 

"Later, I saw thousands of tadpoles: black, energetic and wriggling through the clear water against the background of the brown earth. This is the world I inherited from my parents.

"Today, over 50 years later, the stream has dried up, women walk long distances for water, which is not always clean, and children will never know what they have lost. The challenge is to restore the home of the tadpoles and give back to our children a world of beauty and wonder." 

She went on: "Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own." 

The Nobel laureate then turned to the corporate world: "Industry and global institutions must appreciate that ensuring economic justice, equity and ecological integrity are of greater value than profits at any cost," she said.

And then to governments, Prof Maathai said that the environment was a barometer of a nation’s health. 

"The state of any country’s environment is a reflection of the kind of governance in place, and without good governance there can be no peace," she said.

She is the first African woman and the 12th female peace laureate since the award was first made in 1901.

She joins the league of other African greats who have scooped the prize who are UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (2001), former South African President Nelson Mandela sharing with his predecessor F. W. de Klerk (1993), South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984), Egyptian President Anwar Sadat sharing with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1978) and South African ANC leader Albert Luthuli (1960).

SOURCE: http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/ 

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The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Prof Wangari Maathai, with the gold medal and diploma which go with the award at City Hall, Oslo in Norway yesterday. She is the first African woman to win the prize.

 

 

 

 

Laureate pleads for Africa in her finest hour

Alister Doyle

Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai on Friday called on people around the world to plant trees at Easter as a symbol of renewal and to protect the planet.

"If it was a worldwide campaign it would be wonderful, you can imagine the millions of trees that would be planted," Maathai told Reuters Television in Oslo, where she received the 2004

Nobel Peace Prize.

Maathai, a Christian who has led plantings of 30 million trees across Africa to combat deforestation, said an annual tree-planting drive could symbolise revival for all peoples.

She suggested plantings at Easter, when Christians believe that Christ was crucified on a wooden cross. A tree must have been felled to make the cross, she said.

"We could make it a day to say thank you for those of us who believe in the Bible, those of us who believe in the Koran," she said shortly before the prize ceremony in Oslo City Hall.

"Even in the eastern religions they are very respectful to the other species and so it could be something to unite all of us," she added.

She suggested that the tree-planting day be set for Easter Monday, a day after Christians believe Christ rose from the dead, and said the day could be shared worldwide by other religious groups and non-believers.

"Most of Africa is Christian, certainly south of the Sahara, that is where much of the desertification is taking place," Maathai said.

Maathai, 64, is the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which comprises a cheque for 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.48 million), a gold medal and a diploma.

She is being honoured for work to protect the environment and to promote peace, democracy and women’s rights.

She said Easter Monday could also be a day for wider work to protect the environment, ranging from cleaning beaches to slowing silting of rivers.

 

Trees for Democracy

By WANGARI MAATHAI

Published: December 10, 2004

Nairobi, Kenya

WHEN I was growing up in Nyeri in central Kenya, there was no word for desert in my mother tongue, Kikuyu. Our land was fertile and forested. But today in Nyeri, as in much of Africa and the developing world, water sources have dried up, the soil is parched and unsuitable for growing food, and conflicts over land are common. So it should come as no surprise that I was inspired to plant trees to help meet the basic needs of rural women. As a member of the National Council of Women of Kenya in the early 1970's, I listened as women related what they wanted but did not have enough of: energy, clean drinking water and nutritious food.

My response was to begin planting trees with them, to help heal the land and break the cycle of poverty. Trees stop soil erosion, leading to water conservation and increased rainfall. Trees provide fuel, material for building and fencing, fruits, fodder, shade and beauty. As household managers in rural and urban areas of the developing world, women are the first to encounter the effects of ecological stress. It forces them to walk farther to get wood for cooking and heating, to search for clean water and to find new sources of food as old ones disappear.

My idea evolved into the Green Belt Movement, made up of thousands of groups, primarily of women, who have planted 30 million trees across Kenya. The women are paid a small amount for each seedling they grow, giving them an income as well as improving their environment. The movement has spread to countries in East and Central Africa.

Through this work, I came to see that environmental degradation by poor communities was both a source of their problems and a symptom. Growing crops on steep mountain slopes leads to loss of topsoil and land deterioration. Similarly, deforestation causes rivers to dry up and rainfall patterns to shift, which, in turn, result in much lower crop yields and less land for grazing.

In the 1970's and 1980's, as I was encouraging farmers to plant trees on their land, I also discovered that corrupt government agents were responsible for much of the deforestation by illegally selling off land and trees to well-connected developers. In the early 1990's, the livelihoods, the rights and even the lives of many Kenyans in the Rift Valley were lost when elements of President Daniel arap Moi's government encouraged ethnic communities to attack one another over land. Supporters of the ruling party got the land, while those in the pro-democracy movement were displaced. This was one of the government's ways of retaining power; if communities were kept busy fighting over land, they would have less opportunity to demand democracy.

Land issues in Kenya are complex and easily exploited by politicians. Communities needed to understand and be sensitized about the history of land ownership and distribution in Kenya and Africa. We held seminars on human rights, governing and reducing conflict.

In time, the Green Belt Movement became a leading advocate of reintroducing multiparty democracy and free and fair elections in Kenya. Through public education, political advocacy and protests, we also sought to protect open spaces and forests from unscrupulous developers, who were often working hand in hand with politicians, through public education, political advocacy and protests. Mr. Moi's government strongly opposed advocates for democracy and environmental rights; harassment, beatings, death threats and jail time followed, for me and for many others.

Fortunately, in 2002, Kenyans realized their dream and elected a democratic government. What we've learned in Kenya - the symbiotic relationship between the sustainable management of natural resources and democratic governance - is also relevant globally.

Indeed, many local and international wars, like those in West and Central Africa and the Middle East, continue to be fought over resources. In the process, human rights, democracy and democratic space are denied.

I believe the Nobel Committee recognized the links between the environment, democracy and peace and sought to bring them to worldwide attention with the Peace Prize that I am accepting today. The committee, I believe, is seeking to encourage community efforts to restore the earth at a time when we face the ecological crises of deforestation, desertification, water scarcity and a lack of biological diversity.

Unless we properly manage resources like forests, water, land, minerals and oil, we will not win the fight against poverty. And there will not be peace. Old conflicts will rage on and new resource wars will erupt unless we change the path we are on.

To celebrate this award, and the work it recognizes of those around the world, let me recall the words of Gandhi: My life is my message. Also, plant a tree.

Wangari Maathai, the 2004 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is Kenya's assistant minister for environment and natural resources and the founder of the Green Belt Movement.

SOURCE

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Prof. Wangari Maathai (Kenya) - wins PEACE NOBEL PRICE 

Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize October 8, 2004 for aiding the continent's poor with a campaign to plant millions of trees to slow down deforestation. "Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, said in announcing the winner. He praised her "contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace." Maathai is seen in this December 2002 file picture. Photo by Juda Ngwenya/Reuters

 

 

THE NORWEGIAN NOBEL COMMITTEE

                                                                                         


The Nobel Peace Prize 2004

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004 to Wangari Maathai for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. 

Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally. 

Maathai stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya. Her unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression - nationally and internationally. She has served as inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights and has especially encouraged women to better their situation. 

Maathai combines science, social commitment and active politics. More than simply protecting the existing environment, her strategy is to secure and strengthen the very basis for ecologically sustainable development. She founded the Green Belt Movement where, for nearly thirty years, she has mobilized poor women to plant 30 million trees. Her methods have been adopted by other countries as well. We are all witness to how deforestation and forest loss have led to desertification in Africa and threatened many other regions of the world - in Europe too. Protecting forests against desertification is a vital factor in the struggle to strengthen the living environment of our common Earth. 

Through education, family planning, nutrition and the fight against corruption, the Green Belt Movement has paved the way for development at grass-root level. We believe that Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living conditions on that continent. 

Wangari Maathai will be the first woman from Africa to be honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize. She will also be the first African from the vast area between South Africa and Egypt to be awarded the prize. She represents an example and a source of inspiration for everyone in Africa fighting for sustainable development, democracy and peace. 

Oslo, 8 October 2004. 


Friday 08.10.04

Prof. Wangari Maathai, the outspoken environmentalist from Kenya, as the first African woman has been awarded with the NOBEL PRICE FOR PEACE !

Kenyan ecologist wins Nobel prize 

Wangari Maathai is the first African woman to win the prize since it was created in 1901. 

Kenyan environmentalist and human rights campaigner Wangari Maathai has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

A surprised Mrs Maathai broke the news to reporters minutes before the official announcement. 

The prize committee says Mrs Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, is an example for all Africans fighting for democracy and peace. 

The delighted 64-year-old professor said the award was completely unexpected. 

"This is extremely encouraging to the people of Africa and the African woman," she told the BBC. 

"It is a recognition of the many efforts of African women, who continue to struggle despite all the problems they face." 

Social science 

In the late 1970s Mrs Maathai led a campaign called the "Green Belt Movement" to plant tens of millions of trees across Africa to slow deforestation. 

The movement grew to include projects to preserve biodiversity, educate people about their environment and promote the rights of women and girls. 

I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we also improve governance 


Profile of Wangari Maathai 

Mrs Maathai said she was delighted that the vital role of the environment had been recognised. 

"The environment is very important in the aspects of peace because when we destroy our resources and our resources become scarce, we fight over that". 

"I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we also improve governance," she added. 

The committee says she has combined science with social engagement and politics and has worked both locally and internationally. 


'Honoured' 

The professor was the 12th woman peace laureate since the first award was first made in 1901. 

A spokesman for the Kenyan government said his country was honoured. 

Africa's peace laureates 

2004 - Wangari Maathai, Kenya 
2001- Kofi Annan, Ghana 
1993 - Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, South Africa 
1984 - Desmond Tutu, South Africa 
1960 - Albert John Lutuli, South Africa 


"This is a great moment in Kenyan history. To us this shows that what Wangari Maathai has been doing here has been recognized," Alfred Mutua said. 

"We're very proud of her and she deserves all the credit." 

Mrs Maathai beat a record 194 nominations, including former Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and head of the UN energy watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, to win the prize. 

Mrs Maathai is the second woman in a row to be awarded the peace prize which last year went to Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, for her work for the rights of women and children in Iran. 

The award, which includes 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.3m) is awarded in Oslo on 10 December each year. 

BBC

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Published on Friday, October 8, 2004 

by Reuters http://www.reuters.com 

 



Kenyan Green Activist Wins Nobel Peace Prize

by Alister Doyle


OSLO - Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, honored for aiding democracy and seeking to save the continent's shrinking forests. 

"It cannot get any better than this -- maybe in heaven," Maathai told Reuters after learning of the award. She wept with delight and planted a tree in her home town of Nyeri in the shadow of Mount Kenya, Africa's second highest peak. 


Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize October 8, 2004 for aiding the continent's poor with a campaign to plant millions of trees to slow down deforestation. 'Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment,' the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, said in announcing the winner. He praised her 'contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.' Maathai is seen in this December 2002 file picture. Photo by Juda Ngwenya/Reuters 

The award marks a new environmental theme in interpreting the 1895 will of Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite who founded the prestigious prize. Until now it has often gone to people seeking to end armed conflicts. 

"Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," said Ole Danbolt Mjoes, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.36 million) and will be handed out in Oslo on December 10. 

"We have emphasized the environment, democracy building and human rights and especially women's rights," Mjoes said of the prize. "We have added a new dimension to the concept of peace." 

Maathai's Green Belt Movement, comprised mainly of women, says it has planted 30 million trees across Africa to combat creeping deforestation that often deepens poverty. 

Mjoes said the movement also worked for family planning, nutrition and a fight against corruption in Kenya. And Maathai said that her grassroots movement could be a pre-emptive strike to safeguard peace. 

"Many wars in the world are actually fought over natural resources," she told NRK Norwegian radio. "In managing our resources ... we plant the seeds of peace, both now and in the future." 

GREEN THEME 

But some experts were unconvinced by the new green theme. 

"This prize could be positive in expanding the concept of security, but it could also mean a dilution of the prize, moving too far away from the original idea," said researcher Espen Barth Eide at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. 

He had tipped the U.N. nuclear watchdog and its head, Mohamed ElBaradei for the award to reflect global fears that terrorists or rogue states might obtain nuclear arms. 

But others argued that the environment could be a key to global security. Tree plantings slow desertification, preserve forest habitats for wildlife and provide a source of fuel, building materials and food for future generations. 

"Understanding is growing throughout the world of the close links between environmental protection and global security," said Klaus Toepfer, head of the U.N. Environment Program, in hailing the award. 

And trees soak up carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. Many environmental experts say global warming could be the biggest threat to life on the planet, with more deserts, storms and rising sea levels. 

Maathai, born in 1940, is a zoology professor who rose to international fame for campaigns against government-backed forest clearances in Kenya in the late 1980s and 1990s. 

She is the 12th woman peace laureate since the first award was made in 1901. The last African laureate was U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, of Ghana, in 2001. The 2003 prize also went to a woman, Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi. 

Experts estimate British colonialists and Kenyan farmers have cleared about 75 percent of woodlands in the last 150 years, leaving two percent of Kenya's land under forest cover. 

In 1989 Maathai's protests forced then President Daniel arap Moi to abandon a personal plan to erect a 62-storey office tower in a Nairobi park. In 1999 she was beaten and whipped by private security guards during a demonstration against the sale of forest land near the capital Nairobi. 

In 2001, the 100th anniversary of the first award, the committee mapped out possible new themes for peace. 

Geir Lundestad, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, said at the time that the award might shift in its second century to honor new types of activists such as environmentalists, rock stars, perhaps even journalists. 

© 2004 Copyright Reuters Ltd

See also the follow Link:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/nobel_peace_dc

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Kenyan in surprise Nobel peace win
Friday, October 8, 2004 Posted: 1542 GMT (2342 HKT) 

Waathai: Wept with delight when told the news.

OSLO, Norway (CNN) - Kenyan Deputy Environment Minister Wangari Muta Maathai has been named winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, beating a number of much better known world names to the prestigious award.

"It cannot get any better than this -- maybe in heaven," Maathai said after learning of the award. 

She had wept with delight and planted a tree in her home town of Nyeri in the shadow of Mount Kenya, Africa's second highest peak, when she heard the news, Reuters reported. 

Maathai, 64, is the first African woman to win the prize. She was cited for her work as leader of the Green Belt Movement that has planted more than 30 million trees across Africa.

Awarded the peace prize "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace," she has also campaigned for broader women's rights. (Profile)

The award marks a new environmental theme in interpreting the 1895 will of Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite who founded the prestigious prize. 

Until now it has most usually gone to people seeking to end armed conflicts. 

"Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," said Ole Danbolt Mjoes, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

The prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.36 million) and will be handed out in Oslo on December 10. 

"We have emphasised the environment, democracy building and human rights and especially women's rights," Mjoes said of the prize. "We have added a new dimension to the concept of peace." 

Maathai's win came as a suprise to most observers. U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei had been the clear favorite.

Outsider
A late tip was Russian anti-nuclear activist Alexander Nikitin, a former navy captain who who leaked details of the nuclear fleet and dumping of radioactive waste from 1965 to 1989. 

Others said to be in the running were U.S. Senator Richard Lugar and former Senator Sam Nunn for work to dismantle ageing Soviet nuclear warheads and South African AIDS treatment lobbyist, Zackie Achmat. 

Internet bookmaker Centrebet, the first to organize betting on the contest, had listed ElBaradei and the IAEA as favorites at 4-1, with Nunn-Lugar at 6-1 while Achmat, Russian human rights activist Sergei Kovalyov and Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu were all on 7-1. 

Centrebet spokesman Mark Worwood told CNN that they had lost money on the contest -- as she was such an outsider, you couldn't bet on Maathai by name, only as "any other" an option which was backed down from 5-1 to 6-4 on the final day. 

He added that a significant amount of money had been bet on George W. Bush, forcing the firm to cut their price on the U.S. President from 1000-1 to 25-1. 

Norway's NRK public television, which has often predicted the winner, said early Friday -- accurately as it turned out -- the prize might go to an environmentalist. 

Along with Baradei it had named as being in the final contenders Maathai and Nikitin.

'Great surprise'
Maathai, was "going about her business" in a remote area of Kenya when the announcement came from Oslo, her daughter told CNN. 

Her family in Nairobi did not wait for her to celebrate, she said. "It's really a great surprise," Wangira Maathai said. 

With a record 194 nominations, the committee had a broad field to choose from.

"As a country we're greatly honored. This is a great moment in Kenyan history. To us this shows that what Wangari Maathai has been doing here has been recognized. We're very proud of her and she deserves all the credit," government spokesman Alfred Mutua said.

Last year, the Nobel committee also awarded the prize to a woman -- human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian to receive the honor.

Link:

http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/10/08/nobel.peace/index.html

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'She thinks globally and acts locally'

Text of the citation for the Nobel peace prize 

Friday October 8, 2004

The Norwegian Nobel committee has decided to award the Nobel peace prize for 2004 to Wangari Maathai for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. 

Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally. 

Maathai stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya. Her unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression - nationally and internationally. She has served as inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights and has especially encouraged women to better their situation. 

Maathai combines science, social commitment and active politics. More than simply protecting the existing environment, her strategy is to secure and strengthen the very basis for ecologically sustainable development. She founded the Green Belt Movement where, for nearly 30 years, she has mobilised poor women to plant 30 million trees. 

Her methods have been adopted by other countries as well. We are all witness to how deforestation and forest loss have led to desertification in Africa and threatened many other regions of the world - in Europe too. Protecting forests against desertification is a vital factor in the struggle to strengthen the living environment of our common Earth. 

Through education, family planning, nutrition and the fight against corruption, the Green Belt movement has paved the way for development at grassroot level. We believe that Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living conditions on that continent. 

Wangari Maathai will be the first woman from Africa to be honoured with the Nobel peace prize. She will also be the first African from the vast area between South Africa and Egypt to be awarded the prize. She represents an example and a source of inspiration for everyone in Africa fighting for sustainable development, democracy and peace.

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PROFESSOR WANGARI MAATHAI

Professor Wangari Muta Maathai is clearly a torch-bearer in the feminist movement in Kenya and is reknowned worldwide for her tremendous efforts toward the achievement of global environmental protection. She shot into prominence with the Green Belt Movement, an environmental protection organisation that virtually put her on a collision path with President Moi, whose goverment she claimed was employing destructive deforestation practices. After a barrage of insults and accusations from the Moi administration, that frankly had everything to do with her gender and nothing to do with her environmental proposals, Prof. Maathai prevailed, and continues to champion her noble cause to this day.

Wangari Maathai was born in 1940, in Nyeri Town, Kenya. She was trained in Biological Sciences and went on to join the University of Nairobi, where she obtained a Doctorate Degree. In 1976, Maathai became the first Kenyan woman to head the Department of Veterinary Anatomy at the University of Nairobi. In 1977, in her vintage sky's the limit fashion, she became an Associate Professor at the University. But scholastic excellence was not the only passion for the ambitious Maathai. She was already an active participant in the budding feminist movement in Kenya. From 1981-87 she was Chairperson of the National Council of Women of Kenya(NCWK). It was during her reign as the Chairperson of NCWK that she initiated her famous Green Belt Movement and empowered her female colleagues to play a more active role in environmental conservation in general and tree planting in particular. The Green Belt Movement, which started as a grassroots organisation in the early 80's, grew very rapidly, even to the surprise of its founder Maathai, and in 1986, established a Pan African Green Belt Network which led to the adoption of Green Belt Methods in Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and some other countries in the region.

Though the Green Belt Movement has enjoyed tremendous success in the field of environmental conservation, it is equally important to underscore its input to the national economy. Thanks to the movement, tree planting has become an income generating activity where farmers sell tree seedlings to the movement and get the much needed cash to conduct their day to day activities. Trees are also an important asset to farmers because they are instrumental in preventing soil erosion, which is a major problem for farmers in Africa. Riding on the tremendous success she has had on the environmental conservation front, Maathai has in recent years redirected her efforts towards another very noble cause; The struggle for Human Rights in Kenya. If track records are anything to go by, its only fair that she lead the way in this yet another arduous but extremely important task.

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Africa's Nobel Prize winners
Posted Fri, 08 Oct 2004 

Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai has won the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first African woman ever to be awarded the prestigious prize. 

Here is a list of African Nobel Prize winners: 

2004: Wangari Maathai of Kenya becomes the first African woman to win the Peace Prize "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace". 

2003: South African writer J.M. Coetzee wins the literature prize. 

2001: Ghanaian-born UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is awarded the peace prize jointly with the world body "for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world". 

1993: Nobel Peace Prize is awarded jointly to South Africa's Nelson Mandela, a symbol of the country's fight against the apartheid system, and then president Frederik de Klerk, "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa". 

1991: South Africa's' Nadine Gordimer, whose work deals mainly with the racially driven tensions in her country, wins the literature prize. 

1988: Novel and short story writer Naguib Mahfouz becomes the first Egyptian to win the literature prize. 

1986: Nigeria's ethnic Yoruba playwright, poet and novelist Wole Soyinka wins the literature prize. 

1984: South Africa's black Anglican archbishop, Desmond Tutu, wins the peace prize for his role in the battle against the apartheid regime. 

1978: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat shares the peace prize with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who both signed the Camp David peace accords for the Middle East. 

1960: Zulu chief Albert John Lutuli, head of South Africa's African National Congress — then a banned resistance movement and now the majority party in South Africa — wins the peace prize for his fight against apartheid. 

1951: South African Max Theiler wins the Nobel prize for medicine for developing a vaccine against yellow fever. 

AFP

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Friday, October 8, 2004 · Last updated 8:51 a.m. PT 

Nobel Prize winner teaches conservation 

By CHRIS TOMLINSON 
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER 


Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai hands out grain to villagers, Friday, Oct 8, 2004 in Ihururu near Nyeri after she won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for her work as leader of the Green Belt Movement, which has sought to empower women, better the environment and fight corruption in Africa for almost 30 years.(AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo) 

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai founded Africa's largest community-based environmental organization not only to protect the environment, but also to empower women and fight oppression. 

Maathai - the first black African woman to win a Nobel Prize in any category - started the Green Belt Movement in 1977 while a member of the National Council of Women of Kenya. A year later, Daniel arap Moi became Kenya's president, ushering in an era of corrupt and dictatorial rule that often left Maathai at odds with Kenya's rulers over environmental and human right issues. 

"Maathai stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya," the Nobel Committee said in awarding her the 2004 Peace Prize on Friday. "Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa." 

Born in a village near Mount Kenya in April 1940, Maathai said she had a "very ordinary" childhood, running up and down the hills to fetch water and fire wood for her mother. But her commitment to education took her far from her village. 

Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate, from the University of Nairobi in 1971. She also has degrees from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan., and the University of Pittsburgh. 

She decided to start the Green Belt Movement on a visit home to Nyeri, 60 miles north of Nairobi, in Kenya's verdant highlands. 

"I was hearing at the National Council of Women in Kenya complaints from women. A lot of them about not having enough fire wood, not having enough food for their children and I was discovering there was a lot malnutrition in this part of the country," she told The Associated Press on Friday. 

She soon discovered political and social problems were contributing to the deforestation and the problems faced by women, despite the region's fertility.

"I did not fully understand when I started doing this, how complex a problem it was," she said. 

Maathai, who has three children, focused on planting trees to address the wood fuel crisis in Kenya, but the group also fought to preserve Kenya's remaining protected forests, which were being pillaged by corrupt government officials. 

She founded Kenya's Green Party in 1987 and was repeatedly arrested and beaten for protesting Moi's environment policy and human rights record. 

In the early 1990s, Maathai led a group of women in establishing a so-called Freedom's Corner in a downtown Nairobi park to demonstrate against the torture of political prisoners. Women would gather at the spot for protests and hunger strikes, but were often dispersed by truncheon-wielding police. 

"You cannot count the number of times she has been arrested and beaten by police while campaigning for environmental issues," Green Party secretary-general John Makanga said. "In 1989, she fled to Tanzania to save her life while fighting construction of a multistory building at a public park in Nairobi." 

Elizabeth Guilbaud-Cox, now head of outreach for the U.N. Environment Program, met Maathai during this period, after the Kenyan won the United Nation's Africa Leadership Prize and the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1991. 

"She always gives her all, she always ensures her principles are not compromised and that her commitment to the cause is always put at the forefront," Guilbaud-Cox said. "She was always able to muster a smile, to muster an encouraging word to those who needed it, even when she needed it herself." 

Maathai ran for president in 1997 in a field crowded with opposition candidates and won only a few votes. Despite the disappointment, she kept up her campaign for the environment and human rights, often drawing the ire of Moi, who remained in office until 2002. 

That same year she was elected to parliament with 98 percent of the vote, and the new President Mwai Kibaki appointed her assistant minister for the environment. 

Kibaki said the government was "proud" of Maathai and her cause. 

"As Kenyans, we must rededicate ourselves to conserve the environment as a gesture of appreciation of the prestigious award to one of our own," Kibaki said. 

Guilbaud-Cox said Maathai was a role model for women worldwide, a sentiment Maathai's 32-year-old daughter echoed. 

"She's worked hard and done incredible, courageous things for Kenya," Wanjira Maathai said. "But this is the crowning glory."

On the Net: 

http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/ 

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U.S. lauds Maathai, but notes differences

Washington, DC, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department Friday congratulated Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai for winning the Nobel Peace prize, but noted disagreements with her in the past. 

Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted that the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi had worked with Maathai in the past on environmental programs, noting she and the U.S. ambassador had planted 1,000 saplings donated by the embassy in Karura Forest near Nairobi on Earth Day earlier this year. 

He noted, however, there had been disagreements in the past. 

"We do some things together with her, but we haven't agreed on everything," he said. 

He refused to elaborate, however. 

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity said, however, Maathai, who is now Kenya's assistant minister for the environment, had made controversial comments about HIV/AIDS' origins. She reportedly has said the virus is a biological weapon created by the West. 

The Washington Times / UPI

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Nobel Peace Prize in deserving hands 

Maathai has been awarded the nobel prize for peace for her efforts in the environmental sector

October 08, 2004, 15:06 
Africa's Nobel Peace prize winner, Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist, has been described by a political analyst as a courageous woman who stood up to the government of Daniel arap Moi, the former president of Kenya. George Monbiot is an activist and author of the acclaimed and much-debated book, /The Age Of Consent: a Manifesto for a New World Order/. 

He says Maathai has earned the honour by pushing her cause under difficult situations. The Nobel Peace Prize, according to Monbiot, should not go to people in higher places but to those who have gone through a great deal for their beliefs and for the rights of others. 

Maathai is the first African woman and the seventh African to win the coveted prize. Others have been South Africans Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk; Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, a Ghanaian; and Mohamed Anwar Sadat, an Egyptian president who was assassinated in 1981. 

SABCNEWS

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KENYA: Joy at news of first African woman to win Nobel Peace Prize

Kenyan environmental activists were thrilled at the news on Friday that the country's leading conservationist, Wangari Maathai, had won this year's Nobel Peace Prize, becoming its first African woman recipient. 

The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced in Oslo that it had decided to award the prize to Maathai, 64, in recognition of her "contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace".

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Prof. Wangari Mathaai wins Nobel Prize

BY: Chris Khisa/agencies 
DATE: Friday, October 08, 2004 

Caption: Kenya?s environmental campaigner and Environment Asst. Minister Prof Wangari Maathai (pictured) has won the 100 Million shillings worth Nobel Peace Prize, she is the first African woman to be awarded the prestigious prize since its inauguration 1901 


Kenya?s environmental campaigner and Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources Prof. Wangari Maathai has won the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Prof. Mathaai is the first African woman to be awarded the prestigious prize since it was first handed out in 1901. 

Prof. Maathai, the founder of the Green Belt Movement won the over 100 million shillings worth prize from a record field of 194 candidates among them US President George W. Bush, British Premier Tony Blair and Pope John Paul II. 
I have been called by the Norwegian ambassador to inform me that I have won the Nobel award," Maathai, 64, a veteran environmentalist, said. 

"I am very excited. I really don't know what to say." 

Named after Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, the prize will be officialy presented in Oslo on December 10. 

Prof. Maathai the Kenya-based Non-governmental Organisation- NGO the Green Belt Movement, comprised mainly of women, is said to have so far planted between 25-30 million trees across Africa. 

She is the 12th woman Nobel winner. The 2003 prize also went to a woman, Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi. 

Born in 1940, Prof. Maathai says that tree plantings slow desertification, preserve forest habitats for wildlife and provide a source of fuel, building materials and food for future generations.

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Prof Maathai Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Nation (Nairobi) 
NEWS 
October 8, 2004 
Posted to the web October 8, 2004 
Nairobi 

The good news came as a big surpirse to all but the award panel. Her name had not featured prominently among the 194 candidates. It was announced to her in Nyeri, Central Kenya, by a Norwegian diplomat. 

And thanking the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee for the award, Prof Maathai said she was inspired in her pioneering work by Mt Kenya, the country's symbol of nationhood. 

She also thanked all those that supported her over the the years as she battled to plant millions of trees seedlings across Africa in her bid to stem deafforestation, against a hostile background. 

The Moi regime was particularly vicious, brutalising and arresting her at the flimsiest excuses to discourage her from interfering with the rampant grabbing and felling of government forests. 

Prof Maathai single-handedly stopped the Moi government from constructing a 60-storey building in the historic and symbolic Uhuru Park, a painful feat that won her instant local and international fame. 

With the award in Oslo, on December 10, Prof Maathai will receive the equivalent of $1.36 million (KSh110.16 million). 

Among the awards received by Maathai and the Green Belt Movement are the Sophie Prize (2004), Petra Kelly Prize for Environment (2004), Arbor Day Foundation's J. Sterling Morton Award (2004), Conservation Scientist Award (2004), the WANGO Environment Award (2003), Outstanding Vision and Commitment Award (2002), and Excellence Award from the Kenyan Community Abroad (2001). 

The Member of Parliament for Tetu in Central Kenya has also received the Juliet Hollister Award (2001), the Golden Ark Award (1994), the Jane Adams Leadership Award (1993), the Edinburgh Medal (1993), UN's Africa Prize for Leadership (1991), the Goldman Environmental prize (1991) and the Woman of the World (1989). 

Others include the Windstar Award for the Environment (1988), the Better World Society Award (1986), the right livelihood award (1984) and the Woman of the Year Award (1983). 

Prof. Maathai is also listed on UNEP's Global 500 Hall of Fame and is named as one of the 100 heroines of the world. In June 1997,. 

Wangari was elected by Earth Times as one of 100 persons in the World who have made a difference in the environmental arena. 

Prof. Maathai has also received honorary doctoral degrees from several institutions around the world: William's college, MA USA (1990), Hobart and William Smith Colleges (1994), University of Norway (1997).

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Loved by Laureate, Kenya Forests Are Vanishing Fast 
Fri Oct 8, 2004 08:49 AM ET 

By Matthew Green 

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Championed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, Kenyan forests that once sheltered guerrillas fighting British colonialists are a battleground in a modern-day struggle against environmental devastation. 

Grabbed by corrupt politicians, cleared by hungry peasant farmers and chopped down by loggers looking for a quick profit, huge tracts of ancient woodland have fallen victim to shady deals and a lack of government controls. 

Maathai, the Kenyan activist who was named Nobel Peace Prize winner on Friday, has worked to raise awareness of the importance of forests -- but also to expose the graft that greases much of the destruction. 

"It's not even corruption like stealing from the bank, this is stealing from the present and from the future," Maathai told Reuters during a visit to threatened forests in 2001. 

Kenya's forest land has for decades been high-value currency in networks of patronage spun by the country's political elite, often dubiously acquired from government bodies and then parcelled out to allies who promptly chop the trees down. 

Maathai was an outspoken critic of former President Daniel arap Moi, whose 24-year rule witnessed some of the most flagrant forest grabbing, but activists say the trees are far from safe under President Mwai Kibaki, who won elections in 2002. 

For Kenya's economy, trees could hardly be more critical. Forests near Mount Kenya and in the west of the country act like giant sponges, absorbing rainfall and releasing it to rivers nourishing farms that support the bulk of the population. 

Wildlife is also in danger. To give just one example, the Kenya Forestry Working Group, a campaigning body, produced a report in April that said felling is threatening a river that supports herds of zebras in the Masai Mara, the famed park that sustains much of Kenya's tourist trade. 

Dwindling water levels could also stymie the government's flagship Sondu Miriu hydropower project, designed to help end chronic power shortages, while some lakes are shrivelling, hurting everyone from fishermen to flamingos. 

The government says it is working on a policy to tackle a vast tangle of land disputes, many involving forests, that will ultimately lead to better protection, but activists fear that well-connected landowners will stand in the way. 

Campaigners say a few influential families have acquired vast tracts of arable land, while millions of peasants have nowhere to live, piling more pressure on forests as squatters fell old trees just to plant a few stalks of maize. 

Celebrated as hiding places used by Mau Mau fighters who pushed the country toward independence in 1963, Kenya's forests have shrunk by an estimated three-quarters in the past 150 years, putting a premium on saving what is left. 

© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.

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President congratulates Prof. Mathaai

BY: PPS 
DATE: Friday, October 08, 2004 

President Mwai Kibaki has congratulated Prof. Maathai on her award of the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. 

The president said the award was a recongiton of the frontline role that Prof. Maathai has played in democratization in the country and especially in development through her consistent and sustained campaign in environmental conservation. 

President Kibaki said Prof. Maathai had done the country and Africa proud. 

Meanwhile, foreign affairs assistant minister Moses Wetangula said the award to Prof. Mathai was a great honour to Kenya.

----------------------------------------

Minister sued her own ministry

BY: Vincent Lempaa 
DATE: Thursday, October 07, 2004 

The case in which an assistant minister for environment Prof. Wangari Mathai has sued her own ministry has been adjourned to enable the parties clear on the clash of interest. 

High Court Judge Joe Nyamu allowed lawyer Anthony Ombwayo to get directive from the minister because Mathai has since them been appointed as an assistant minister in the same ministry. 

Wangari sued the minister for hiving off thousand of hectors of forest and allocated it to influencing people during the former regime. 

The case will now be mention on the 12 of next month. This was the first mention for the case since Mathai was appointed following the 2002 general election. Francis Nyenze was the minister when Maathai sued. 

Three different minsters have since headed the ministry.

-------------------------------------------

Kenyan Environmentalist Wins Peace Prize 

Associated Press Writer 
The Associated Press 
OSLO, Norway 

Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for her work as leader of the Green Belt Movement, which has sought to empower women, improve the environment and fight corruption in Africa for almost 30 years. 

Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, is the first African woman to win the prize, first awarded in 1901. She gained recent acclaim for a campaign planting 30 million trees to stave off deforestation. 

Maathai, 64, learned about the award while campaigning to protect forests and distributing food to hungry constituents suffering from drought near her hometown of Nyeri in central Kenya. 

"Many of the wars in Africa are fought over natural resources," she told The Associated Press. "Ensuring they are not destroyed is a way of ensuring there is no conflict." 

Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 while head of the National Council of Women of Kenya. She abandoned a promising academic career as a biology professor to pursue her environment projects. 

She said she made her decision to do so on a visit home to Nyeri, in the verdant highlands 60 miles north of Nairobi, after realizing that despite the fertility of the region, political and social problems were contributing to deforestation and the problems faced by women. 

"I was hearing at the National Council of Women in Kenya complaints from women. A lot of them about not having enough firewood, not having enough food for their children and I was discovering there was a lot malnutrition in this part of the country," she said. Maathai called winning the Nobel Peace Prize an "overwhelming experience." 

With a record 194 nominations, the committee had a broad field to choose from, and speculation had focused on other candidates. Many observers had wondered if the committee would try to send a message about Iraq, as it did in 2002, when members said the choice of former President Jimmy Carter should be seen as criticism of the Bush administration's war to topple Saddam Hussein. 

The choice of Maathai was a clear answer that it would eschew politics this time around. 

"We believe that Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living conditions on that continent," the Nobel committee said in its citation. 

It was the first time the prize recognized work to preserve the environment. During the 2001 centennial anniversary of the prize, the committee said it wanted to widen the scope of the award, including honoring those who worked to improve the environment, as well as contributed to advancing peace worldwide. 

"This is the first time environment sets the agenda for the Nobel Peace Prize, and we have added a new dimension to peace. We want to work for a better life environment in Africa," said committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes. 

Maathai (pronounced (wan-GAH-ree mah-DHEYE) is believed to have been the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate. She got a degree in biological sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan., in 1964. 

Previous winners from Africa include U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan of Ghana, who shared the prize with the United Nations in 2001, and Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, South Africa, in 1993. 

The award, which includes $1.3 million, is always presented on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of its founder, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. The peace prize is awarded in Oslo, and the other Nobel prizes are presented in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. 

Maathai also was cited for standing up to Kenya's former government, led by President Daniel arap Moi for 24 years until he stepped down after elections in 2002. 

"Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," Maathai's citation said. "Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa." 

Morten Hoeglund, a member of Norway's Progress Party, criticized the award to Maathai, saying the Nobel Committee should focus on more pressing issues like weapons of mass destruction. 

Indeed, oddsmakers and speculation had pointed to Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency as likely winners. 

Former President Carter welcomed the news that Maathai had won. 

"I have known her for many years as a heroine in Kenya and throughout Africa," he said in an e-mail to the AP. "She has fought courageously to protect the environment and human rights, in the face of severe governmental pressures to silence her often lonely voice." 

Last year's winner was Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi. 

This year's awards announcements began Monday with the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine going to Americans Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck for their work on the sense of smell. On Tuesday, Americans David J. Gross, H. David Politzer and Frank Wilczek won the physics prize for their explanation of the force that binds particles inside the atomic nucleus. 

The chemistry prize was awarded Wednesday to Israelis Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko and American Irwin Rose for their work in discovering a process that lets cells destroy unwanted proteins. On Thursday, Austrian feminist writer Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday. 

The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel will be announced Oct. 11.

On the Net: 

http://www.nobelpeaceprize.org  

-------------------------------------------

Wangari Maathai, lifelong environmental campaigner and Kenya's Deputy Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 8 October 2004. 

Professor Maathai has a long-standing relationship with the United Nations Environment Programme. She is a Global 500 laureate and a jury member of the UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize. 

Professor Maathai is profiled in the UNEP/TVE Earth Report documentary Crossing the Divide, about activists who have crossed the divide to become politicians. 

Crossing the Divide was broadcast on 19 July 2004. 
http://www.tve.org/earthreport/archive/doc.cfm?aid=1518  


Broadcast footage, transcripts and background information are available from TVE (Television Trust for the Environment). 

Contact: 
Dina Junkermann 
Television Trust for the Environment (TVE) 
Tel: +44 (0)207 901 8855 
Fax: +44 (0)207 901 8856 
dina.junkermann@tve.org.uk
 
tve@tve.org.uk
 
http://www.tve.org/earthreport/  

TVE 
21 Elizabeth Street 
London SW1W 9RP 
United Kingdom 

Information about Earth Report programmes is also available from 

Robert.Lamb@EarthReport.info  

--------------------------------------------

Kenyan wins Peace Prize 

OSLO, Norway (AP) – Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for her work as leader of the Green Belt Movement, which has sought to empower women, better the environment and fight corruption in Africa for almost 30 years. 

Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, is the first African woman to win the prize since it was first awarded in 1901. She has been recognized for her struggle for democracy, and gained recent attention for a campaign planting 30 million tress to stave off deforestation. 

"We believe that Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living conditions on that continent," the Nobel committee said in its citation. 

With a record 194 nominations, the committee had a broad field to choose from, and speculation had focused on other candidates. It was similar to last year's announcement, when Shirin Ebadi of Iran won. 

Maathai said she didn't expect it either. 

"I am absolutely overwhelmed and very emotionally charged, really," she told Norwegian state television. "I did not expect this." 

It was the first time the prize recognized work to preserve the environment, something the committee explicitly recognized. 

During the 2001 centennial anniversary of the prize, the committee said it wanted to widen the scope of the award, including honoring those who worked to improve the environment, as well as contributed to advancing peace worldwide. 

"This is the first time environment sets the agenda for the Nobel Peace Prize, and we have added a new dimension to peace. We want to work for a better life environment in Africa," said committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes. 

Maathai, 64, was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate, getting a degree in biological sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan., in 1964. 

Previous winners from Africa include U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who shared the prize with the United Nations in 2001, and Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, South Africa, in 1993. 

"The environment is very important in the aspects of peace because when we destroy our resources and our resources become scarce, we fight over that," Maathai said, fighting back tears. "I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we also improve governance." 

Maathai has also been praised for standing up to Kenya's former government, led by President Daniel arap Moi for 24 years until he stepped down after elections in 2002. 

The award, which includes $1.3 million, is always presented on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of its founder, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. The peace prize is awarded in Oslo, and the other Nobel prizes are presented in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. 

"Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," Maathai's citation said. "Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa." 

Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 while head of the National Council of Women of Kenya. She abandoned a promising academic career as a biology professor to pursue her environment projects. 

This year's award announcements began Monday with the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine going to Americans Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck for their work on the sense of smell. On Tuesday, Americans David J. Gross, H. David Politzer and Frank Wilczek won the physics prize for their explanation of the force that binds particles inside the atomic nucleus. 

The chemistry prize was awarded Wednesday to Israelis Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko and American Irwin Rose for their work in discovering a process that lets cells destroy unwanted proteins. On Thursday, Austrian feminist writer Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday. 

The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel will be announced Oct. 11.

------------------------------------

Nobel Peace Prize to Kenyan woman

The Associated Press

Friday, October 8, 2004 



OSLO Wangari Maathai, a noted Kenyan environmental activist, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for her work as leader of the Green Belt Movement, which has sought to bring power to women, improve the environment and fight corruption in Africa for almost 30 years.

Maathai, Kenya’s deputy environment minister, is the first African woman to be awarded the prize since it established in 1901.

She has been recognized for her struggle for democracy and gained recent attention for a campaign to plant 30 million trees to stave off deforestation.

‘‘We believe that Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living conditions on that continent,’’ the Nobel committee said in its citation. With a record 194 nominations, the committee had a big field to choose from.

‘‘I am absolutely overwhelmed and very emotionally charged, really,’’ she told Norwegian state television. ‘‘I did not expect this.’’

It was the first time the prize recognized work to preserve the environment, something the committee explicitly recognized.

During the 2001 centennial anniversary of the prize, the committee said it wanted to widen the scope of the award, including honoring those who worked to improve the environment, as well as contributed to advancing peace. 

Ole Danbolt Mjoes, the chairman of the committee that decided on the award, said, ‘‘This is the first time environment sets the agenda for the Nobel Peace Prize, and we have added a new dimension to peace. We want to work for a better life environment in Africa.’’ 

Maathai, who is 64, was the first woman in East and Central Africa to receive a doctorate, getting a degree in the United States in biological sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas, in 1964.


‘‘The environment is very important in the aspects of peace because when we destroy our resources and our resources become scarce, we fight over that,’’ Maathai said, holding back tears. ‘‘I am working to make sure we don’t only protect the environment, we also improve governance.’’

Maathai has also been praised for standing up to Kenya’s former government, led by President Daniel arap Moi for 24 years until he stepped down after elections in 2002.

The award, which includes $1.3 million, or ¤1.1 million, is always presented on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of its founder, the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. 

Maathai’s citation said: ‘‘Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa.’’

Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 while head of the National Council of Women of Kenya. She abandoned a promising academic career as a biology professor to pursue her environment projects.

This year’s award announcements began on Monday with the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine going to Richard Axel and Linda Buck of the United States for their work on the sense of smell. 

On Tuesday, three more Americans — David Gross, David Politzer and Frank Wilczek — were awarded the physics prize for their explanation of the force that binds particles together. The chemistry prize was awarded on Wednesday to Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko of Israel and Irwin Rose of the United States for their work in discovering a process that lets cells destroy unwanted proteins. On Thursday, Elfriede Jelinek, an Austrian, was given the Nobel Prize in literature.

Link: http://www.iht.com/articles/542666.html 

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"History has many records of crimes against humanity, which were also justified by dominant commercial interests and governments of the day... Today, patenting of life forms and the genetic engineering which it stimulates, is being justified on the grounds that it will benefit society... But in fact, by monopolising the 'raw' biological materials, the development of other options is deliberately blocked. Farmers therefore, become totally dependent on the corporations for seeds". 

Prof. Wangari Mathai of the Green Belt Movement, Kenya

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Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement


"It's very, very important for us to take action at the local level. Because sometimes when we think of global problems, we get disempowered. But when we take action at the local level, we are empowered."

In the mid-1970's biologist Wangari Maathai became concerned about deforestation in her native Kenya. 
In Kenya, as in many developing countries, poverty and high population growth have been placing a severe strain on the natural environment. Poor people cut down trees for fuel and clear land to plant crops. As the trees disappear, so do the plant and animal species that depend on them. With no ground cover to hold it, rainwater runs off and erodes the soil, depleting it of its nutrients. This degradation of the natural environment deepens the cycle of poverty. The consequences are malnutrition, water scarcity, and an increase in contagious diseases. 
In 1977, working through her local civil society organization, the National Council of Women in Kenya (NCWK),Wangari Maathai began encouraging rural women to plant trees. The initiative soon developed into a broad-based grassroots movement. Through this Green Belt Movement women are taught to raise and nurture tree seedlings, which they redistribute for planting where they are most needed and for which the Green Belt Movement compensates them. The income earned by the women is used to meet their immediate domestic needs such as their children's education or is invested in other income-generating ventures. 
The organization teaches people about the link between a healthy natural environment and healthy communities, and farmers and villagers also learn about land management practices such as composting, soil conservation and the use of indigenous crops. 
Through this movement, thousands of grassroots women's groups have been created which promote sustainable development and also take up other social issues. These women have now planted more than 20 million trees throughout Kenya and established over 6,000 tree nurseries. More than half-a-million schoolchildren have been taught the values of sustainable living. 
The Green Belt Movement is thus reducing the effects of deforestation while providing women with an income and empowering them to take on leadership roles within their communities. 
What began as a small nursery in Wangari Maathai's backyard has now spread around the globe, as the methods of the Green Belt Movement have also been replicated by organizations in other countries. 

"Every one of us can make a contribution. And quite often we are looking for the big things and forget that, wherever we are, we can make a contribution.... Sometimes I tell myself, I may only be planting a tree here, but just imagine what's happening if there are billions of people out there doing something. Just imagine the power of what we can do."

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Maathai’s battles bear fruit

By Waweru Mugo

They had wished her dead. Kanu mandarins had shamelessly shared out Karura Forest and were quickly moving in to begin construction of buildings. 

In Wangari Maathai, they saw a real threat. She was totally opposed to their evil designs and did not mince her words. 

She led MPs and activists in threatening to declare mass action, civil disobedience and protests to block any construction in the forest. 

The coordinator of Green Belt Movement, Wangari and her team did make good their threat to enter and plant trees in the forest- that was now firmly secured by armed security sent by the State. 

And that is when hell broke loose. On this Friday morning January 8, 1999, the well-connected (politically) grabbers set upon Wangari and her entourage a vicious gang of armed guards. 

The about 20 armed men whipped and clubbed her, six MPs, journalists covering the event and her supporters. They smashed their cars too. 

They had planned and coordinated the attack with the police, who they kept updated all the time. 

The hirelings who were armed with swords, bows and arrows, clubs among other crude weapons also cut deep into her head as they barred the team from entry into the public land. 

With blood streaming down the back of her head, Wangari was taken to Nairobi Hospital’s Emergency Unit. 

The then Home Affairs minister Shariff Nassir had in his "caution" said those opposed to the illegal allocation of the forest were likely to ignite civil strife in the country. 

But Wangari, even after the bludgeoning in Karura, was upbeat about her quest to save the forest. She announced that she was ready to die fighting to prevent the irregular allocation of the land. 

She would return later to fulfill her mission, she vowed. 

In March the same year, Wangari was among Opposition politicians including the Official Leader of the Opposition, now President Mwai Kibaki, who were refused entry into the same forest.

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Wangari Maathai wins global honour

Standard Team 

Environment Assistant Minister Prof Wangari Maathai has won the biggest prize in the world - the Nobel Peace Prize. 

She becomes the first African woman, and only the sixth African, to win the award, which is given in recognition of outstanding contribution to peace. 

Along with the honour, she will also get Sh108.8 million prize money. 

As soon as the news was announced, President Mwai Kibaki sent a helicopter to pick her up from Nyeri where she was at an official function. Maathai was hosted at State House by the President in the company of the Norwegian ambassador to Kenya, Kjell Dalen. 

With the Prize, Maathai now claims an enviable spot in the firmament of other notable Africans who have won the prize. They include former South African President Nelson Mandela, South African cleric Desmond Tutu, Former African National Congress President Albert John Luthuli and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. 



Prof Wangari Muta Maathai

"I am humbled and greatly honoured. It is too good to be true. I cannot start contemplating that I am now in the company of such world greats as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu," she told /The Standard/ in Nyeri. 

"I am so overjoyed that it will take time before I overcome all this excitement." 

Prof Maathai was selected from among 194 eminent people from all over the world for her work with the Green Belt Movement planting trees to slow down deforestation. 

"Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, said in announcing the winner. He praised Wangari’s "contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace." 

"Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa," she said. 

" 1.36 million dollars is such a mind boggling sum of money. I have never handled such an amount. I think I will use it in my work which involves promoting environmental conservation and peace," Wangari said of the prize which now makes her one of the wealthiest women in Kenya. 

Named after Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, the prize is handed out in Oslo on December 10. 

Maathai is the founder of the Green Belt Movement, comprised mainly of women, which says it has planted about 30 million trees across Africa. 

Born in 1940, Maathai says planting trees slows desertification, preserves forest habitats for wildlife and provides a source of fuel, building materials and food for future generations to help combat poverty. 

"I am absolutely overwhelmed," she told Norway’s NRK television after confirmation of the award. "This is the biggest surprise in my entire life. When we plant new trees we plant the seeds of peace." 

Maathai is the first African woman to win the peace prize and the 12th woman peace laureate since the first award was made in 1901. The last African laureate was Annan, of Ghana, in 2001. 

The 2003 prize also went to a woman, Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi. 

The current Nobel Committee, appointed by the Norwegian parliament early in 2003, comprises three women and two men. Geir Lundestad, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, said in 2001 that the award might shift in its second century to honour new types of activists such as environmentalists, rock stars, perhaps even journalists. 

The prize was a surprise. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency and its head, Mohamed El Baradei, had been widely tipped to win by peace experts. The Kenyan government said it was very pleased the award had gone to Maathai. 

"This is a great testament to the work she has been doing for many years. We are very happy," said Government spokesman Alfred Mutua. "It sets an example that if you put your energy into the right places you are eventually recognised and that it leads to a better world." 

Additional Reporting by Reuters

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'Kenya's Green Militant' wins Nobel Peace Prize 

Fred Barbash and Emily Wax
Washington Post

Oct. 9, 2004 12:00 AM 

Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan firebrand who mobilized the women of Africa in a powerful crusade against deforestation called the "Green Belt Movement," will receive the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004. 

Friday's announcement, by the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee, makes her the first African woman to receive the $1.3 million prize, which is generally regarded as the world's highest tribute. Among past laureates are Jimmy Carter, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa, the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King. 

Maathai, feminist, environmentalist and crusader against corruption in Kenya, is now her country's deputy environment minister.

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Typically, the speculation about who would win this year's prize was all wrong, with most of it centering around immediate events, such as chaos in the Middle East and weapons of mass destruction. The "most mentioned" contender was Director General Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Choice adds dimension 

Explaining the choice, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, head of the prize committee, said "We have added a new dimension to the concept of peace. We have emphasized the environment, democracy building and human rights and especially women's rights." 

"I am absolutely overwhelmed," said Maathai, 64. 

The award will be handed out in Oslo on December 10. 

While Maathai has not been widely known to the general public, she is a legend among global environmental activists and feminist leaders alike and a presence at international environmental conferences. She has been described variously as an "ecofeminist," "ecowomanist" and "Kenya's Green Militant." 

The impetus for Maathai's movement was deforestation in Kenya, a process that has taken 90 percent of the country's forest over the past 50 years. One of the consequences Maathai saw was that women and girls had to spend hours every day searching for wood for cooking fuel. 

In 1978, Maathai, then a U.S.-educated college professor at the University of Nairobi, suggested the planting of trees as a way to help rural women survive the decrease of firewood. The movement spread across Africa, and was responsible for planting over 30 million trees. She expanded it to embrace human rights, women's rights and the politics of democracy. 

In 1989, the deep-voiced and statuesque Maathai led a one woman-charge against the autocratic government of Daniel arap Moi, the former president, when he wanted to build a skyscraper and six-story statue of himself in gritty Nairobi's only public green space. 

She lost her case in court. But because of her protest no financiers were willing to work on the project. Today, that area of the park is called "Freedom Corner." 

Beatings endured 

From time to time she has been intimidated and even beaten by police in the course of her protests. She was hospitalized in Kenya in 1999 after being clubbed by guards hired by developers while she and her followers tried to plant trees in Karura forest. 

In 1992, she was among a group of women who stripped naked in downtown Nairobi to protest police torture. 

"She was threatened physically and was called a busybody in the press, yet she didn't flinch," said Mwalimu Mati, deputy director of Transparency International, a watchdog group in Nairobi. "She's converted a lot of us to understand why the environment is so important."

Approach cited 

In its citation Friday, the Nobel committee said, "Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally." 

In Nairobi on Friday, David Makali, director of the Media Institute, said: "This is fabulous news and real legitimately good news in a long time for Kenya and Africa. This will increase the visibility of the country and our campaign" for environmental reform." 

Maathai earned a biological sciences degree from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan., in 1964. She received a master's two years later from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate from the University of Nairobi in 1971. 

"I have had the fortune of breaking a lot of records," Maathai said in a 1992 interview with the Washington Post. "First woman this. First woman that. And I think that created a lot of jealousy without me realizing. Sometimes we don't quite realize that not everybody's clapping when we're succeeding."

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Kenyan Woman Wins Nobel Peace Prize 

United Press International

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan woman who has worked nearly thirty years for democracy, sustainable development and peace. 

Maathai, the first African woman to win the prestigious prize, is best known for founding the so-called Green Belt Movement that seeks to engage women in reforestation. Since the movement began, about 30 million trees have been planted. 

Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said. 

Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally. 

The committee, who picked her from a record 194 nominees, also praised Maathai for standing up against the former oppressive regime in Kenya. 

(Maathai) is the first African from the vast area between South Africa and Egypt to be awarded the prize. She represents an example and a source of inspiration for everyone in Africa fighting for sustainable development, democracy and peace. 

The 64-year-old Maathai will receive a check for $1.34 million during the Dec. 10 award ceremony. 

© YellowBrix, Inc. Copyright 1997-2004

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PRIZE PRAISE FOR MAATHAI 

This year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai, 64, has dedicated most of her professional life to defending Africa's depleted forest. 

Maathai is the first African woman to win the coveted prize and the first Kenyan to win any Nobel award. Here is the judges citation on why she was chosen: 

"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004 to Wangari Maathai for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. 

Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment. Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. 

She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally. 

Maathai stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya. Her unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression - nationally and internationally. 

She has served as inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights and has especially encouraged women to better their situation. 

Maathai combines science, social commitment and active politics. More than simply protecting the existing environment, her strategy is to secure and strengthen the very basis for ecologically sustainable development. 

She founded the Green Belt Movement where, for nearly 30 years, she has mobilised poor women to plant 30 million trees. 

Her methods have been adopted by other countries as well. 

We are all witness to how deforestation and forest loss have led to desertification in Africa and threatened many other regions of the world - in Europe too. 

Protecting forests against desertification is a vital factor in the struggle to strengthen the living environment of our common Earth. 

Through education, family planning, nutrition and the fight against corruption, the Green Belt Movement has paved the way for development at grass-root level. 

We believe that Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living conditions on that continent. 

Wangari Maathai will be the first woman from Africa to be honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize. 

She will also be the first African from the vast area between South Africa and Egypt to be awarded the prize. 

She represents an example and a source of inspiration for everyone in Africa fighting for sustainable development, democracy and peace." 

Source: SKYNEWS

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Kenyan Environmentalist Wangari Maathai Wins Nobel Peace Prize 

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Wangari Maathai of Kenya won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for her work to promote democracy, protect the environment and improve social conditions in Africa, said the Norwegian Nobel Committee. 

Maathai, born in 1940, won for her efforts to improve people's living conditions and to protect the environment. She founded the Green Belt Movement, which has planted 30 million trees since 1977, said Ole Danbolt Mjoes, director of the Nobel Committee in Oslo, which picks the winner 

Maathai ``stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa,'' Mjoes said. Maathai is the first African woman to win the prize. 

The peace prize, first awarded in 1901, was set up in the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swede who invented dynamite. Former winners include Martin Luther King, Amnesty International and the 14th Dalai Lama. It is worth 10 million kronor ($1.4 million). 

``It's important for people to see that they are part of the environment and that they take responsibility for it,'' Maathai said in an interview with Norwegian broadcaster TV2. ``I feel extremely elated. This is something I would never have dreamt of.'' 

The prize should be awarded to ``the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace,'' Nobel said in his will. 

``Our mission is to mobilize community consciousness for self- determination; equity, improved livelihoods securities and environmental conservation, using tree planting as an entry point,'' the Green Belt Movement said on its Web site. 

Iran 

Last year's winner was the Iranian human-rights activist Shirin Ebadi, who became the first Muslim woman to get the award. The prize is formally bestowed at a ceremony in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896. 

Fifty of this year's record 194 nominations were for organizations, the rest for individuals. The five-member Nobel committee, elected by Norway's parliament, keeps nominations secret. 

Former winners, members of national assemblies and governments, university chancellors and leaders of peace research institutes can propose candidates. 

Nobel's will also set up prizes for achievements in literature, chemistry, medicine and physics, which were awarded earlier this week by the Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation. 

An economics prize, set up by the Bank of Sweden in memory of Alfred Nobel, will be announced Oct. 11.

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Environmental Activist Maathai of Kenya Wins Peace Prize

OSLO, Norway, October 8, 2004 (ENS) - The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Professor Wangari Maathai for her "contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace," the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced today. She becomes the first female African to win the prestigious prize. 

Founder of the Green Belt Movement which has planted more than 30 million trees across Africa, Maathai now serves as assistant minister of environment, natural resources and wildlife in the government of President Mwai Kibaki. 

"Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," the Nobel Committee said. "Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa. She has taken a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular. She thinks globally and acts locally."

Klaus Toepfer, executive director of UNEP, which is headquartered in Nairobi, seat of the Kenyan government, said, "Understanding is growing throughout the world of the close links between environmental protection and global security, so it is most fitting that the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded this year to Africa's staunchest defender of the environment." 

"This award marks the culmination of a lifelong and passionate fight for the environment," said Toepfer. 

Maathai is the first woman from Africa to be honored with the Nobel Peace Prize, and Toepfer said she is an inspiration especially to "the women and children of Africa, who shoulder so much of Africa's burden of poverty, conflict and environmental degradation, and who so much deserve role models to show them the way to a better future." 

The Nobel Committee said Maathai has "served as inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights and has especially encouraged women to better their situation." 

The committee praised her courageous stand against the former oppressive regime in Kenya, saying that, "Her unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression - nationally and internationally." 

Maathai combines science, social commitment and active politics, the committee said. "More than simply protecting the existing environment, her strategy is to secure and strengthen the very basis for ecologically sustainable development." 

Starting with a small tree nursery in her back yard in 1977, Maathai founded Kenya's Green Belt Movement. For nearly 30 years, she has mobilized poor women to plant millions of trees, and other countries have now adopted her methods. 

"We are all witness," the Nobel Committee said, "to how deforestation and forest loss have led to desertification in Africa and threatened many other regions of the world - in Europe too. Protecting forests against desertification is a vital factor in the struggle to strengthen the living environment of our common Earth." 

"Through education, family planning, nutrition and the fight against corruption, the Green Belt Movement has paved the way for development at grassroot level," the Nobel Committee said. "We believe that Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living conditions on that continent." 

Maathai will add the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize to the many other prizes she has received over the years, including the Goldman Environment Prize and the Sophie Prize, which came in March 2004 "for her fearless fight for the protection of the environment, human rights and promotion of democratic governance in Kenya."

Maathai is also a long-standing jury member of the UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize. 

Born in Nyeri, Kenya, Maathai earned her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at Mount St. Scholastica College, Kansas, in 1964, and took her master's in Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh two years later. 

Then Maathai went home to Kenya and earned her PhD in anatomy at the University of Nairobi in 1971, becoming the first East and Central African woman ever to earn a PhD. 

From 1973 to 1980 she served as director of the Kenya Red Cross. 

In 1976, Maathai became the first female to serve as chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy at University of Nairobi, and the following year she became the first female associate professor of that department. 

In 1977 she founded The Green Belt Movement, and then served as chairman of the National Council of Women of Kenya from 1981 through 1987. 

She ran for the Presidency of Kenya in 1997, but lost to long time holder of that post Daniel Arap Moi. 

In 1998, Maathai launched the Kenya Jubilee 2000 coalition. 

In 2002, she won elected office for the first time when she swept the Tetu Constituency with 98 percent of the vote and took her seat in Parliament. 

In 2003 Maathai was appointed to the position of assistant minister of environment, natural resources and wildlife. "I am an activist in office, this is who I am," she told a reporter in 2003. "Nevertheless, I am happy that after a long struggle I do not have to lobby and appeal to the government to take action. I am in the government. This is a huge responsibility, but it is also such a joy to be able to put what I have been appealing for into action." 

In a recent interview for a UNEP documentary, Maathai said, "I love the trees, I love the color. To me they represent life, and they represent hope. I think it is the green color. I tell people I think heaven is green."

Source: http://www.ens-newswire.com/index.asp 

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Kenyan environmental activist wins Nobel Peace Prize

October 8, 2004

BY DOUG MELLGREN ASSOCIATED PRESS
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OSLO, Norway-- Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for her work as leader of the Green Belt Movement, which has sought to empower women, improve the environment and fight corruption in Africa for almost 30 years. 

Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, is the first African woman to win the prize, first awarded in 1901. She gained recent acclaim for a campaign planting 30 million trees to stave off deforestation. 

"We believe that Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living conditions on that continent," the Nobel committee said in its citation. 

Maathai said she thought she was selected as a symbol of the struggles against poverty and environmental degradation in Africa. 

"This is an overwhelming experience. It is elating. It is unbelievable, it's the kind of thing you never hear in your life. I am very flattered," she told The Associated Press in Nyeri, Kenya. 

With a record 194 nominations, the committee had a broad field to choose from, and speculation had focused on other candidates. Many observers had wondered if the committee would try to send a message about Iraq, as it did in 2002, when members said the choice of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter should be seen as criticism of the Bush administration's move to topple Saddam Hussein. 

The choice of Maathai was a clear answer that it would eschew politics this time around. 

It was the first time the prize recognized work to preserve the environment. During the 2001 centennial anniversary of the prize, the committee said it wanted to widen the scope of the award, including honoring those who worked to improve the environment, as well as contributed to advancing peace worldwide. 

"This is the first time environment sets the agenda for the Nobel Peace Prize, and we have added a new dimension to peace. We want to work for a better life environment in Africa," said committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes. 

Maathai, 64, is believed to have been the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate. She got a degree in biological sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan., in 1964. 

Previous winners from Africa include U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who shared the prize with the United Nations in 2001, and Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, South Africa, in 1993. 

"The environment is very important in the aspects of peace because when we destroy our resources and our resources become scarce, we fight over that," Maathai told Norwegian state television, fighting back tears. "I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we also improve governance." 

Maathai has also been praised for standing up to Kenya's former government, led by President Daniel arap Moi for 24 years until he stepped down after elections in 2002. 

The award, which includes $1.3 million, is always presented on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of its founder, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel. The peace prize is awarded in Oslo, and the other Nobel prizes are presented in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. 

"Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," Maathai's citation said. "Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa." 

Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 while head of the National Council of Women of Kenya. She abandoned a promising academic career as a biology professor to pursue her environment projects. 

Morten Hoeglund, a member of Norway's Progress Party, criticized the award to Maathai, saying there were more pressing issues like weapons of mass destruction the Nobel Committee should focus on. 

"Today we have problems with nuclear arms and technology gone astray. The Nobel Committee should spend more resources on these matters instead," he said. 

Indeed, oddsmakers and speculation had pointed to Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency as likely winners. 

Last year's winner, Shirin Ebadi of Iran was similarly a dark horse. 

This year's award announcements began Monday with the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine going to Americans Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck for their work on the sense of smell. On Tuesday, Americans David J. Gross, H. David Politzer and Frank Wilczek won the physics prize for their explanation of the force that binds particles inside the atomic nucleus. 

The chemistry prize was awarded Wednesday to Israelis Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko and American Irwin Rose for their work in discovering a process that lets cells destroy unwanted proteins. On Thursday, Austrian feminist writer Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday. 

The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel will be announced Oct. 11. 

Copyright 2004 Associated Press

http://www.suntimes.com 

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Kenyan woman environmentalist wins Nobel Peace Prize 

www.chinaview.cn 

2004-10-08 18:18:46 

STOCKHOLM, Oct. 8, (Xinhuanet) -- Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for her work that has sought to empower women, better environment and fight corruption in Africa for almost 30 years. 

The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment minister, for founding the Green Belt Movement (GBM) that has planted more than 30 million trees across Africa to slow deforestation. 

"Through education, family planning, nutrition and the fight against corruption, the Green Belt Movement has paved the way for development at grass-root level," the Nobel committee said in its citation. 

"We believe that Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living conditions on that continent," the jury said. 

"Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," the citation said, adding "Maathai stands at the front of the fight to promote ecologically viable social, economic and cultural development in Kenya and in Africa." 

Maathai, 64, founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, which has been carried out primarily by women in the villages of Kenya, who through protecting their environment and through the paid work are able to better care for their children and their future. 

She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree and to head a university department in Kenya. 

Having earned a biology degree from Mount St. Scholastica College in Kansas and a master's degree at the University of Pittsburgh, Maathai returned to Kenya and earn a Ph.D. at the University of Nairobi. She eventually became head of the veterinary medicine faculty at the university. 

Maathai became involved in organizing work for poor people in the 1970s and this later became a national grass-roots organization, providing work and improving the environment at the same time. She also served as national chairperson for the National Council of Women of Kenya. 

Maathai is the seventh African to win the prize since it was first awarded in 1901. Previous winners from Africa include UnitedNations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who shared the prize with the United Nations in 2001, and Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk, South Africa, in 1993. 

"Thank you so much, I am absolutely overwhelmed and very emotionally charged, really. I did not expect this," she told Norwegian state television after the announcement. 

"The environment is very important in the aspects of peace because when we destroy our resources and our resources become scarce, we fight over that. I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we also improve governance," said Maathai, who has served as Kenya's Assistant Minister for the Environment since 2003. 

Maathai won the prize, worth 1.36 million US dollars, from a record field of 194 candidates. The award is always presented on Dec. 10 the anniversary of the death in 1896 of the prize's creator Alfred Nobel, in the Swedish capital Stockholm. 

The peace prize is awarded in Oslo, and the other Nobel prizes are announced in Stockholm. 

This year's award announcements began Monday with the Nobel Prize in medicine going to Americans Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck for their work on the sense of smell. 

On Tuesday, Americans David J. Gross, H. David Politzer and Frank Wilczek won the physics prize for their explanation of the force that binds particles inside the atomic nucleus. 

On Wednesday, Israeli biochemists Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko and Irwin Rose of the United States won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work related to how the human body singles out unwanted proteins for destruction to defend itself from disease. 

Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek was awarded the literature prize Thursday becoming only the 10th woman to win the prize. 

The economics prize will be announced Oct. 11.

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Achmat hails Nobel win as a victory for all 

October 08 2004 at 04:31PM 

He may not have won the Nobel Peace Prize himself but South African Aids campaigner Zackie Achmat says the fact that it has gone to an African woman for the first time is a victory for the entire continent. 

"I think every single person on the continent and every person who works in environmental justice will celebrate this day," Achmat told reporters in Bronkhorstpruit outside Pretoria, where he was attending an Aids conference. 

"The victory of Wangari Maathai is not only important for the fact that she's a woman. She's also the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. From that point of view it's very important for us," he said. "It's a happy day for every blade of grass in Africa." 

Maathai, 63, Kenya's assistant environment minister, won the prize on Friday for her campaigns during the late 1980s and 1990s against government-backed forest clearances in her home country, which saw her beaten by police and held in jail. 

Achmat and his Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) have won international acclaim for their work to combat HIV/Aids in South Africa, which has more people infected with the disease than any country. 

Last October, after years of pressure from the TAC and the international community, the South African government dropped its long resistance to life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and agreed to provide free treatment in public hospitals. 

Nearly five million South Africans are infected with the HI virus that can eventually lead to Aids. Activists say expensive treatment is out of the reach of most poor South Africans, leading to around 600 Aids-related deaths every day. 

Achmat, who is HIV-positive, was nominated for the Nobel by the Philadelphia-based American Friends Service Committee. He said he was relieved that the anxious wait for the big announcement was finally over. 

"It's going to improve our work. It means we're not going to get hunted down by the media," he quipped.

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PEACE PRIZE TO 'TREE'DOM FIGHTER


October 9, 2004

OSLO, Norway - Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai yesterday became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, honored for fighting poverty by trying to save the continent's shrinking forests. 

"It cannot get any better than this maybe in heaven," Maathai, 64, told Reuters. 

She wept with delight and celebrated by planting a tree in her hometown of Nyeri in the shadow of Mount Kenya, Africa's second-highest peak. 

The award, the first Nobel given to an environmentalist, marks a new interpretation of the 1895 will of Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel which set up the prizes. 

Some critics said the environmental theme betrayed mainstream peacemakers. 

"You don't give the Nobel chemistry prize to a professor in economics," said Carl Hagen, leader of Norway's opposition conservative Progress Party. 

But the Norwegian Nobel Committee defended its decision. "Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment," committee head Ole Danbolt Mjoes said. "We have emphasized the environment, democracy building and human rights and especially women's rights," he said of the prize. "We have added a new dimension to the concept of peace." 

The prize, worth $1.36 million, will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10. 

Reuters

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