The Clout of Simplicity

The first African woman to receive the Nobel peace prize, Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, is an international leader who draws her strength from the grass root level.

“I travel around the world, I sit in meetings with great men, but I have to go back to the grassroots because that is where the work is done.
That is where change is being implemented one day at a time.” This is what she said in a documentary.

Environment is a matter of life and death and Wangari Maathai has been able to empower the woman at the grass root level, the rural woman, to protect the environment one tree at a time. She has taught the rural woman about the importance of protecting the environment, making it inhabitable for the next and the next generation by simply planting trees. She has not stopped there; she has also been able to provide a source of income for these women. It was remarkable to see her mingling with the women, and you could feel the joy and enthusiasm of the rural women who were also part of the documentary.

Hers is a grand mission implemented in the simplest way and she receiving remarkable results. The rural women are a group in the African society that is in most cases ignored, or in spoken for by patriarchy and unfortunately even by their fellow elite women. Their role in development has always been ignored or trivialized: she is always assumed to be too domestic. But by simply planting trees these women are (re) shaping the future of the continent and its inhabitants.

This reminded me of the importance of simplicity. There has been the tendency of sophisticating issues in order to emphasize its importance, yet simplicity makes sure that a wider audience receives the message. I thought Wangari Maathai style of handling the issue of environment could be a lesson, to the world. Those perceived to be elite, or rich, form a small part of the worldwide community. The masses are comprised of those who walk on the land and work for the land, and that is where the action is or at least should be.

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