A visitor to the Bainbridge Public Library on Thursday examines a portrait of Wangari Maathai in the library’s new exhibit for March.
Maathai, who passed away in 2011, was a Kenyan professor and the leader of the Green Belt Movement, an effort to empower women through community tree-planting projects. The movement is credited with the planting of 51 million trees in Kenya.
Maathai gained international fame after battling the Kenyan government and the government-controlled media over the 60-story Kenya Times Media Trust business complex that was proposed for Uhuru Park, a recreational area in central Nairobi, in the late 1980s. The project was eventually canceled after foreign investors pulled out.
Maathai was later elected to the Parliament of Kenya, and in 2004, became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”
Matthai’s portrait is one of 15 acrylic paintings on canvas by local artist Suzette Ruys. The paintings portray women who fought for justice, equal rights, education, respect and recognition.
The exhibition runs through March, which is Women’s History Month; March 8 is International Women’s Day.
(Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)