“Unbowed: a Memoir” by Wangari Maathai

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Unbowed is a compelling and inspiring memoir of the first environmentalist African woman to have earned the honor of being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Maathai takes the reader through from her childhood until she becomes a professor. Through her scientific abilities, she identifies environmental degradation and sets on a movement to bring solutions to the problems.

The Environmental

Maathai recognizes the problems of corruption, mismanagement of the environment through deforestation, and oppression. She becomes aware that advocating for a democracy alone would not bring a solution to the deforestation problems. In the due process, she fears for her own life and that of the family (Maathai 67).

Maathai establishes the Green Belt Movement to counter the environmental problem on her land. She sensitized on the issue of government officials owning public lands. She also emphasizes on the protection of biodiversity based on the numerous benefits that biodiversity has on the environment. Biodiversity, for instance, helps to establish a balance in the population as prey animals feed on others. Maathai also participated in the National Council of Woman to motivate women to produce seedlings in a move to protect the forests. This was primarily done to renew the Kenya and the earth as a whole. She appreciated the role of trees that will help make a difference in the world as a whole which is the reason she earned a peace prize.

The author identifies the relationship between the government regime and the environmental degradation. She argues that poor policies are subject to deforestation and other malpractices affecting the environment. The result heavily relies on the innocent citizens. Trees provide the solution for some issues. First, they help the women in the society prepare nutritious dishes. Also, they offer wood for fencing. Trees also assist in binding the soil as well as protection of the watersheds. Most prominent is the fact that trees would help to attract the birds which contribute to enriching biodiversity (Maathai 68). Perhaps the reason that Maathai emphasized on rehabilitating the environment owes to the fact that trees help to establish an environment that nurtures all life.

In this book, Maathai identifies many issues with the environment. She explains that deforestation is the main problem affecting the environment as a whole. As a result, the effects are felt in the whole biological system. For instance, cutting of trees destroys homes for animals which results in driving them out. The result is that some species are missing and continue being at risk if deforestation is not sensitized. But even though, there are other critical components of the government policies. They have equally contributed to the degradation of the environment using the concept of land privatization.


Unbowed: A Memoir is quite an informative book addressing an important issue of environmental degradation. Maathai explains the problems with land policies and practices which creates a ground for more controversy and speculation. Her argument is based on democracy and how it would help improve the environment. However, she cannot find the answers to more complex issues on the general biological systems especially since it has effects on people's livelihood. Although she sensitizes on the conservation of trees, she has to explain a lot more than democracy for efficiency in conserving the environment.

Works cited

MAATHAI, ALSO BY WANGARI. "Unbowed: A Memoir."

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"Unbowed: A Memoir" by Wangari Maathai. (2018, Dec 30). Retrieved May 20, 2024 , from

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