Kenyan Nobel winner Maathai, saviour of trees, dies

By REUTERS
September 26, 2011 14:38

 
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NAIROBI - Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her campaigns to save Kenyan forests, died in hospital on Sunday after a long struggle with ovarian cancer.

Maathai, 71, founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 to plant trees to prevent environmental and social conditions deteriorating and hurting poor people, especially women, living in rural Kenya.

Her movement expanded in the 1980s and 1990s to embrace wider campaigns for social, economic and political change, setting her on a collision course with the government of the then-president, Daniel arap Moi.

Maathai, who won the Peace Prize in 2004, had to endure being whipped, tear-gassed and threatened with death for her devotion to Africa's forests and her desire to end the corruption that often spells their destruction.

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