A deeply tense Kenya should remember Wangari Maathai

Prof Wangari Maathai smiles radiantly after winning the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2004. Apart from being the first African woman to win the coveted prize, Prof Maathai, when she became a minister, sought to change the letter font and space used in government documents. This, she believed would reduce the papers used and in the long term, the trees cut. PHOTO | JOHN MCCONNICO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Wangari Maathai, who died in September 2011, won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

  • When Wangari Maathai became a minister, she chose a seemingly strange and obscure battle — to change the font size and spacing of official government documents.

  • Wangari Maathai, being a top environmentalist, wanted to save on the amount of paper the government uses, because it would translate into fewer trees somewhere being cut down to make them.

A few days ago, a conversation with a Kenyan activist took me to a very strange place.

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