Powerful Wangari Maathai Quotes That Will always be Remembered

A compilation of 30 Inspiring Wangari Maathai quotes.

Wangari Maathai was born on April 1, 1940, and died on September 25, 2011. She was a Kenyan social, environmental, and political activist who was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

She studied in the United States as a result of the Kennedy Airlift, getting a bachelor’s degree from Mount St. Scholastica and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

She went on to become the first woman in East and Central Africa to become a Doctor of Philosophy after receiving her PhD from the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, an environmental non-governmental organization dedicated to tree planting, environmental protection, and women’s rights.

She was a Kenyan parliamentarian who served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in President Mwai Kibaki’s administration from January 2003 until November 2005.

Wangari Maathai Quotes

  1. “What people see as fearlessness is really persistence.”

2. “Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things you fight for and then you protect.”

3. “There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.”

4. “When you know who you are you are free.”

5. “The generation that destroys the environment is not the generation that pays the price. That is the problem.”

6. “No matter who or where we are, or what our capabilities, we are called to do the best we can.”

7. “I’m very conscious of the fact that you can’t do it alone. It’s teamwork. When you do it alone you run the risk that when you are no longer there nobody else will do it.”

8. “Finally I was able to see that if I had a contribution I wanted to make, I must do it, despite what others said. That I was OK the way I was. That it was all right to be strong.”

9. “Every person who has ever achieved anything has been knocked down many times. But all of them picked themselves up and kept going, and that is what I have always tried to do.”

10. “You can make a lot of speeches, but the real thing is when you dig a hole, plant a tree, give it water, and make it survive.”

Wangari Maathai Quotes

11. “If you make mistakes that is alright because we all make mistakes and we learn from those mistakes. You gain confidence from learning, failing and rising again.”

12. “Some say that AIDS came from the monkeys, and I doubt that because we have been living with monkeys from time immemorial, others say it was a curse from God, but I say it cannot be that.”

13. “Women are responsible for their children, they cannot sit back, waste time and see them starve”

14. “There comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness . . . that time is now.”

15. “You cannot blame corruption in Africa on colonialism.”

16. “When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope.”

17. “As I told the foresters, and the women, you don’t need a diploma to plant a tree.”

18.  “It would be good for us Africans to accept ourselves as we are and recapture some of the positive aspects of our culture.”

19. “We can never all be equal, but we can ensure we do not allow excessive poverty or wealth. Inequality breeds insecurity.”

20. “nobody knows the solution to every problem; rather than blindly following the prescriptions of others, Africans need to think and act for themselves, and learn from their mistakes.”

Wangari Maathai quotes

21. “We need to promote development that does not destroy our environment.”

22. “The world’s interactions with Africa are not necessarily motivated by altruism, but by the self-interest of states seeking to maximize their opportunities and minimize their costs, often at the expense of those who are not in a position to do either.”

23. “That’s the way I do things when I want to celebrate, I always plant a tree.”

24. “No matter how dark the cloud, there is always a thin, silver lining, and that is what we must look for. The silver lining will come, if not to us then to next generation or the generation after that.”

25. “You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them.”

26. “I don’t really know why I care so much. I just have something inside me that tells me that there is a problem, and I have got to do something about it. I think that is what I would call the God in me.”

27. “We have a special responsibility to the ecosystem of this planet.”

28. “We are very fond of blaming the poor for destroying the environment. But often it is the powerful, including governments, that are responsible.”

29. “I think what the Nobel committee is doing is going beyond war and looking at what humanity can do to prevent war. Sustainable management of our natural resources will promote peace.”

30. “To be able to grow coffee you need rain, you need special kinds of soils that are found on hillsides, and that means you have to protect that land from soil erosion so you don’t lose the soil. “

Wangari Maathai quotes

My favorite Wangari Maathai quotes are, “What people see as fearlessness is really persistence.” and “You cannot blame corruption in Africa on colonialism.”

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