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Kenyans in USA to honour Wangari Maathai

BUSINESS
By | October 19th 2011

By Chris Wamalwa in USA

Kenyans living in the US, will Thursday honour the late Prof Wangari Maathai by planting a tree at the Kenyan Embassy in Washington, DC.

The event, timed to coincide with elaborate celebrations of Kenya's second Mashujaa Day starts at 4pm Thursday, October 20, 2011 at the embassy. Soon thereafter, the crowd moves to the official reception at the National Geographic Society cafeteria - 1145 17th St. NW, Washington, DC, 20036.

Elkanah Odembo, Kenya’s Ambassador to the USA. Photo: Chris Wamalwa/Standard

A cross section of the US government leadership among them the White House, State Department, Foreign Relations Committee and the Black Caucus have been invited to the celebrations.

Briefing The Standard, the Kenyan Ambassador to the US, Elkanah Odembo said the event would enable the Kenyan Diaspora and friends of Kenya honour the late Prof Maathai.

"This year, we will be celebrating our Mashujaa Day by honoring the late Prof Wangari Maathai, an exceptional Kenyan who not only shone the light at the good and noble side of us but one who also brought a lot of honor and respect to our nation. By planting a tree at the Kenyan embassy, we shall symbolically be reincarnating her life in the trees she cherished," said Odembo.

Prof Maathai, founder of the GreenBelt Movement passed away on September 25, 2011 at a Nairobi Hospital from cancer related complications. She was 71.

Leaders from around the world among them US President Barack Obama mourned her passing. In his message of condolence, President Obama said Prof Maathai was a remarkable woman who devoted her life to peacefully protecting what she called 'our common home and future'.

"The work of the Greenbelt Movement stands as a testament to the power of grassroots organising, proof that one person's simple idea that a community should come together to plant trees can make a difference first in one village, then in one nation and now across Africa," Obama stated.

Mr Odembo shared ideological and philosophical working relations with the late Prof Maathai during their days in the civil society movement in the 1990s. While Prof Maathai was planting and defending forests as the director of GreenBelt Movement, Odembo was chairing 'Operation Firimbi', an initiative of a loose coalition of legal and human rights organizations under the NGO's Council that blew the whistle on grabbed land that was common in the early 1990's. Odembo was the then Chairman of the NGO's Council.

"This is an open invitation and we would like to encourage Kenyans living in the Metro Areas to attend as long as they RSVP us as soon as possible for planning purposes," Odembo said.

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