African woman wins Nobel Peace Prize

Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai
Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, whose tree-planting movement defied political leaders, was praised by Samuel Kobia, the World Council of Churches’ general secretary—and a fellow Kenyan—for being named the Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2004.

“Being the first African woman in history to receive this prestigious prize, you have brought honor to the African continent and its people,” said Kobia, a Methodist minister who in January became the first African to lead the worldwide ecumenical church alliance.

Maathai, 64, now Kenya’s deputy environment minister, was named the winner of the prize for her leadership of the Green Belt Movement, which has sought to empower women, improve the environment and fight corruption in Africa for almost 30 years. She challenged policies of Kenya’s former government, led by President Daniel Arap Moi before he stepped down after elections in 2002.

 

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