Kenya to hold a state funeral for Nobel laureate Maathai

Story highlights

  • Kenya announces two days of mourning for Wangari Maathai
  • A state funeral will be held for the environmental activist who died this week
  • She was the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize
Kenya's president declared two days of national mourning Wednesday for Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize, who died Monday after a battle with cancer.
The announcement by President Mwai Kibaki also said a state funeral would be held for Maathai. No date was specified.
Maathai, 71, was an environmentalist who had long campaigned for human rights and the empowerment of Africa's most impoverished people.
Kibaki's announcement said Thursday and Friday would be days of national mourning for Maathai, with the national flag flown at half staff. It also said the government has nominated representatives to join the family committee planning the funeral.
Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, a tree-planting campaign to simultaneously mitigate deforestation and to give locals, especially women and girls, access to resources like firewood for cooking and clean water. The movement has since planted more than 40 million trees.
In 2004, Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote sustainable development, democracy and peace.
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She also was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. In December 2002, she was elected to Kenya's parliament with an overwhelming 98% of the vote.
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She was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of 100 most influential people in the world, and Forbes listed her as one of 100 most powerful women in the world.