A unique urban forest, beloved by Nobel Laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement (GBM), Wangari Maathai, is reportedly in the sights of a hotel developer.
“Wangari is dead but not resting in peace,” said Kenyan Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, adding: “The proposed hotel in Karura Forest must be disturbing her spirit.”
According to Maathai’s Green Belt group, Ibis Hospitality Ltd, Nairobi-based, is hoping to build a five star hotel on a 25-acre piece of forest. A spokesman for the group denies the group’s claim.
“‘Rest in peace’ is unthinkable,” Judge Mutunga said. “Can Kenya’s great patriot rest in peace when Karura forest faces rape?”
Features in Karura include a waterfall, bamboo forest, marshland, Mau Mau caves and an old church, plus many unique plant species and abundant wildlife. Pictures can be seen on the Friends of Karura Forest Facebook page
“This violates the 2015-2020 strategic forest management plan developed by the Kenya Forest Service and Friends of Karura Forest which is currently awaiting signature by the forest service,” said GBM in a published statement.
Dr. Maathai fought former president Daniel Moi’s regime to save Nairobi’s largest listed forest. She encouraged women in rural Kenya to plant trees and conserve the environment.
It is estimated that 20 million trees were planted while she lived, leading to the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway in 2004 for her work.
In awarding Dr. Maathai the prize, the Nobel committee credited her “unique forms of action” for drawing attention to political oppression – nationally and internationally.
The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a PhD, Dr. Wangari died of cancer in 2011.
Meanwhile, in Addis Ababa, African Union leaders have named a garden in their headquarters after the activist.
“The overall objective is to highlight the work and achievements of the late Prof Maathai and identify how best the AU can continue to commemorate and celebrate her life,” the delegates said.