Wangari Maathai: Once again, our corrupt politicians are cheating the rest of their nation


Related Topics

The Mau forest complex has been completely at the mercy of politicians carving it up amongst themselves. We were warning about this for years but we were completely ignored.

The Mau is so important to Kenya and to East Africa because it is so huge and supplies the water that feeds the rivers and lakes. Our vital tourism industry is fed by the waters from the complex system. And because of its size it has a climatic impact, helping to regulate the climate and controlling precipitation.

It affects agriculture in the Rift Valley which is the grain basket of Kenya. The Serengeti in Tanzania, and the Maasai Mara in Kenya are both fed by rivers from this precious system. When it is destroyed it will have a devastating impact on all these sectors.

What Kenya's politicians never realised is that it would happen so soon. They thought they wouldn't have to pay a price in their lifetime.

It becomes very difficult to persuade ordinary people to respect the environment when their leaders walk the wrong path. It is often said that in Kenya, leaders don't eat alone – they have supporters and tribespeople who expect to eat with them. They see only the short term benefits.

The scandal of the destruction of the Mau forest is no different from the big financial scandals, such as Anglo-Leasing and Goldenberg, that have blighted Kenya. It's just another example of corrupt leaders who are cheating the public good.

Our "Enough is Enough" campaign is receiving a strong response and people are starting to tell our leaders they can't take it anymore. The problem in East Africa is that people have been able to endure so much abuse.

It's a hard line to draw between the decades of destruction of our own forests, periodic droughts and global climate change. But we do know that part of the reason why our rivers are drying up is the loss of wetlands and marshes and mountain forest. Without the forests to harvest that rainfall it will wash away the soil and fill the rivers and lakes with silt.

There is a lesson here that other African countries must learn: We must adapt and prepare for the changes that are coming.

Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. Details of the Enough is Enough campaign can be found at

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam