President Obama's reminiscence of Professor Wangari Maathai during visit to Kenya

July 29, 2015

On the left is Green Belt Movement Board Chair Wanjira Mathai and President Obama at the State Banquet hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi. On the right, President Kenyatta with a guest at the event.Green Belt Movement (GBM) was well represented at the State Banquet held at State House Nairobi in honour of visiting U.S. President Barack Obama on July 25, 2015 .

Among the invited guests was Wanjira Mathai, GBM's Board Chair, who had the opportunity to meet President Obama and share a few words.

In his speech, President Uhuru Kenyatta referred to Professor Wangari Maathai and Barack Obama Sr. as distinguished Kenyans who had strong historical ties to the United States through the Kennedy Airlift.“In 1959, our national hero Tom Mboya would join hands with Senator John F. Kennedy, American philanthropists and activists such as Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier, to bring hundreds of young Kenyans to America’s universities.   His hopes were more than fulfilled. The Nobel Laureate, the late environmentalist Professor Wangari Maathai was one of those who traveled. Another was Barack Obama Sr.”

During his speech to the people of Kenya, President Obama highlighted the great strides made by Kenyan women as evidence of the value of women in the society. Among them the Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai.

"Kenya continues to carve out a distinct place among the nations. The country is a leader for conservation, following in the footprints of Wangari Maathai," he said.

On his last day in the country, President Obama met with representatives of Civil Society organizations at the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center in Nairobi and in attendance was Ms. Wanjira Mathai.

When he last visited Kenya in August 2006 as the Illinois State Senator, Barack Obama met Professor Maathai and together they planted a tree at Uhuru Park in Nairobi. 


 August, 2006, in Nairobi, Kenya: Then Sen. Barack Obama plants a tree with 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.GBM Board Chair Wanjira Mathai (3rd from left) with some representatives of the Civil Society in Kenya during the event with President Barack Obama.                      


US President Barack Obama speaks during an event with representatives of Civil Society organisations at the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center in Nairobi on July 26, 2015.