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Unbowed: a Memoir by Wangari Maathai

Unbowed: a Memoir (2006)

by Wangari Maathai

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There is a lot of interesting history in this book, but I found the writing "clunky." I don't think it's reasonable to put this down to "it's not her native language" when the author is highly educated and had the means and opportunity to have this edited for style. That said, I also found the early parts of the memoir cliche and trite. Maathai promotes the "pre-colonial Eden" view of Africa that is neither true, nor particularly interesting to me. However, this is, after all, a memoir, and it might be unfair of me to judge Maathai's view of events. It's her story, after all. But I really got tired of being talked down to and having events and social currents oversimplified to the point of inanity. If you don't know much about Kenya, or East Africa, or the Greenbelt Movement, you'll probably really like this book, if you don't mind poor sentences and vague word choice. However, don't take this as the last word. Remember this is one person's interpretation of events and hero worship is seldom an accurate way to view history. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
Review: Unbowed by Wangari Maathai. If you are environmentalist this is the book to read. A memoir of an African women going against all odds for three decades to defend Africa’s environment and the democracy of Kenya for future generations. Having to endure being put in jail numerous times, beating’s and personal losses to establish a poor people’s environmental group.

There were many troubled issues to bring forth that she took upon herself even when she had to fight with the Government politicians to resolve the way the country was run. It’s amazing to read about all the corruption in government in her country. For the life of me, I can’t understand why all the dishonesty for personal gain exist in so many countries!

Wangari Maathi inspired us in 1977 when she founded the Green Belt Movement which followed up with the sister’s advocacy The Green Belt International Movement that many countries and people follow today. The day she rejoiced was when she was elected into the Parliament and appointed assistant minister in the Ministry For Environment and Natural Resources in Jan, 2003.

I thought it was well written, informative, educating and interesting. A few slow spots for me when political issues, rules and laws were entwined into the discussion….. ( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
I really loved this book. She is such a strong and inspiring person. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
RIP Wangari. ;(
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Wangari Maathai is a Kenyan activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. She founded the Green Belt Movement, planting trees across Kenya to stop the soil erosion resulting from deforestation during the colonial years. She was vocal on both women's and environmental issues, challenging the government and organizing protests.

While her life has been interesting and her contributions significant, my attention flagged halfway through. The writing was uninspired, often with extraneous detail. There was little insight to her personal life and emotions, so she came across as single-minded. About two thirds of the way through this book, I set it aside to read something else. When I picked it up again I still couldn't get into it, and skimmed the last 100 pages. ( )
  lauralkeet | Dec 20, 2008 |
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What I know now is that my parents raised me in an environment that did not give reasons for fear or uncertainty. Instead, there were many reasons to dream, to be creative, and to use my imagination. As I grew older, I learned that we can convince ourselves and our children, and if we are leaders we can convince our citizens, that we are in danger, either from what people might do to us or what we might do to ourselves. I know my parents occasionally told me things to keep me unaware and therefore unafraid. But parents have to do that sometimes to allow their children to grow up confident and resilient and able to confront challenges later in life.
Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost.
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Born in a rural Kenyan village in 1940, Wangari Maathai was already an iconoclast as a child, determined to get an education even though most African girls then were uneducated. In her remarkable and inspiring autobiography, she tells of her studies with Catholic missionaries, earning bachelors and master's degrees in the United States, and becoming the first woman both to earn a PhD and to head a university department in Kenya. She tells of her numerous run-ins with the brutal government of Daniel arap Moi and of the political and personal reasons that compelled her, in 1977, to establish the Green Belt Movement, which spread from Kenya across Africa, and which helps restore indigenous forests while assisting rural women by paying them to plant trees in their villages. Maathai's extraordinary courage and determination helped transform Kenya's government into the democracy in which she now serves as Deputy Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources and as a Member of Parliament. Eventually her achievement was internationally recognized in the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in recognition of her 'contribution to sustainable development, human rights, and peace'.In "Unbowed", we are in the presence of a hugely charismatic yet humble woman whose remarkable story carries with it an inspiring message of hope. Hers is an extraordinary story, spanning different worlds and changing times, and revealing what the courage, determination, tenacity and humour of one good woman can achieve; how as small a thing as planting a seedling and watering it can made all the difference in the world.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307275205, Paperback)

In Unbowed, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai recounts her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to the world stage. When Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, she began a vital poor people’s environmental movement, focused on the empowerment of women, that soon spread across Africa. Persevering through run-ins with the Kenyan government and personal losses, and jailed and beaten on numerous occasions, Maathai continued to fight tirelessly to save Kenya’s forests and to restore democracy to her beloved country. Infused with her unique luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai’s remarkable story of courage, faith, and the power of persistence is destined to inspire generations to come.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:14 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize describes her life as a feminist, political activist, and environmentalist in Kenya, detailing the 1977 establishment of the Green Belt Movement and her role in the transformation of Kenya's government.

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