The Challenge for Africa
By Wangari Maathai
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780307377401, 336pp.)
Publication Date: April 7, 2009
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Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement, offers a refreshingly unique perspective on the challenges facing Africa, even as she calls for a moral revolution among Africans themselves, who, she argues, are culturally deracinated, adrift between worlds.
The troubles of Africa today are severe and wide-ranging. Yet what we see of them in the media, more often than not, are tableaux vivantes connoting poverty, dependence, and desperation. Wangari Maathai presents a different vision, informed by her three decades as an environmental activist and campaigner for democracy. She illuminates the complex and dynamic nature of the continent, and offers “hardheaded hope” and “realistic options” for change and improvement. With clarity of expression, Maathai analyzes the most egregious “bottlenecks to development in Africa,” occurring at the international, national, and individual levels–cultural upheaval and enduring poverty among them–and deftly describes what Africans can and need to do for themselves, stressing all the while responsibility and accountability.
Impassioned and empathetic, The Challenge for Africa is a book of immense importance.
Wangari Maathai was elected to Kenya’s parliament in 2002 and in 2003 was appointed Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources, and Wildlife. She is also the author of a memoir, Unbowed, and speaks to organizations around the world. She lives in Nairobi.
Praise for Unbowed
“Wangari Maathai's memoir is direct, honest, and beautifully written—a gripping account of modern Africa's trials and triumphs, a universal story of courage, persistence, and success against great odds in a noble cause.”
“Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement demonstrate the intimate connection between sustainable management of Africa’s rich natural resources, democracy, good governance and peace. Such are the solutions that will bring new light to Africa. I hope the world will support her vision of hope.”
“Wangari Maathai’s story is more than that of one woman’s struggles . . . It is also the story of Kenya, Africa, and the world. The environment she fights for is the totality of the ecological and social conditions of our being. Her life is a triumph of good over evil.”
—Ngugi wa Thiong’o, author of Wizard of the Crow
“Wagari Maathai is the rare leader who knows who to create independence, not dependence.
“[Maathai’s] story provides uplifting proof of the power of perseverance–and of the power of principled, passionate people to change their countries and inspire the world.”
—The Washington Post
“Inspirational . . . Ms. Maathai will not be beaten down.”