On Wednesday, King Charles met with Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai’s daughter Wanjira Maathai as the two helped plant a tree in memory of the late globally acclaimed conservationist.
While appreciating the King’s gesture, Wanjira, the Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships, stated that she was honoured to welcome and plant a tree with His Majesty in honour of her mother.
“Today, Nairobi without Karura Forest is unimaginable. This is thanks to everyone who fought hard to protect it,” she wrote, adding; “A true honour to welcome and plant a tree with His Majesty in celebration of my mother, Wangari Maathai.”
Wanjira also spoke of her admiration for the King’s and her late mother’s enduring friendship, writing; “It was the solidarity of so many that led to Karura. I admired their friendship & solidarity with my mother through thick & thin!”
Wangari Maathai famously fought the KANU authorities in order to protect Karua Forest from private developers and loggers, a fight that resulted in numerous publicised beatings and standoffs with the then-brutal regime.
While writing in the Nation ahead of the King’s visit to the forest, Wanjira spoke glowingly of the forest her environmentalist mother held dear, while also recalling King Charles’ previous tributes to Wangari’s indefatigable spirit.
“Every time I come home to Nairobi, I am humbled by the fact that Karura does not need us; we need it. Today we reflect on how by preserving this forest, we have protected ourselves. We would all be the poorer, in every respect, without these green spaces,” she noted.
“As the King said at an event for my mother in 2013 at Kew Gardens, in London, ‘She had an infectious spirit, a sense of optimism and a deep sense of hope. She understood the link between poverty and the natural environment.’ Today, we honour this spirit of hope and optimism.”