- Jomo Kenyatta
- Tom Mboya
- Ronald Ngala
- Daniel Arap Moi
- Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga (Oct.1911 – Jan 20, 1994)
- Wangari Maathai
Jomo Kenyatta was born Kamau wa Ngengi to Ngengi wa Muigai and Wambui in Gatundu, Kiambu on 20th October 1891. His father died while Kamau was very young was adopted by his uncle Ngengi, who inherited his mother.
When his mother died during childbirth, young Kamau moved from Ng'enda to Muthiga to live with his medicine man grandfather Kũngũ wa Magana.He joined the Church of Scotland Mission (CSM) at Thogoto, as a resident pupil.
In 1912, having completed his mission school education, he became an apprentice carpenter. In 1914, he converted to Christianity, assuming the name Johnstone Kamau. He left the mission later that year to seek employment as an apprentice carpenter on a sisal farm in Thika.
To avoid forced recruitment as WWI soldier, he lived with Maasai relatives in Narok, where he worked as a clerk for an Asian contractor. He took to wearing a traditional beaded belt known as a 'Kenyatta', a Swahili word which means 'light of Kenya'.
In 1922 Kamau adopted the name Jomo Kenyatta, and began working for the Nairobi Municipal Council Public Works Department as a store clerk and water-meter reader.
In 1919 he married Grace Wahu. On 20 November 1920 Kamau's first son Peter Muigai was born. Grace Wahu lived in the Dagoretti home until her death in April 2007 at the age of around 100.In 1942, he married Edna Clarke and Peter Magana was born in 1943. In 1951 Kenyatta married Ngina Muhoho, daughter of Chief Muhoho and was independent Kenya's First Lady, when Kenyatta was elected President.
Kenyatta joined the EAA in 1922 which disbanded in 1925.Kenyatta worked as editor of the KCA's journal between 1924 and 1929, and by 1928 he had become the KCA's general secretary. In May 1928 Kenyatta launched a monthly Kikuyu-language newspaper called Mwĩgwithaniawhich was intended to draw all sections of the Kikuyu together. He also made a presentation on Kikuyu land problems before the Hilton Young Commission in Nairobi in the same year.
In February 1929 Kenyatta was dispatched to London to represent the KCA in discussions with the Colonial Office. He wrote several letters and in the letter published in The Times in March 1930 set out five points:
- The security of land tenure and the return of the land taken by European settlers.
- Improved educational opportunities for Black Africans.
- The repeal of Hut and poll taxes.
- Representation for Black Africans in the Legislative Council.
- Freedom to pursue traditional customs (such as female genital mutilation)
He returned to Kenya on 24 September 1930. He returned to London in 1931. In 1932 to 1933, he briefly studied economics in Moscow. at University College London from 1935 studied social anthropology. Kenyatta published his own book, Facing Mount Kenya in 1938.
In 1945, with other prominent African nationalist figures, such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Kenyatta helped organize the fifth Pan-African Congress held in Britain.
On arrival into Kenya in 1947, he became principal of Kenya Teachers College Githunguri. In 1947, he was elected president of the Kenya African Union (KAU) after James Gichuru stepped down.F
rom 1948 to 1951 he toured and lectured around the country. He also published My People of Kikuyu and The Life of Chief Wang'ombe, a history shading into legend. The Mau Mau Rebellion began in 1951 and KAU was banned, and a state of emergency was declared on 20 October 1952. Kenyatta was arrested in October 1952 and indicted with five others (Bildad Kaggia, Fred Kubai, Paul Ngei, Achieng Oneko and Kung’u Karumba).
At Kapenguria trials lasting 5 years, Rawson Macharia who was the main prosecution witness later confessed that he had been bribed to give false information about Kenyatta. The defense was led by British barrister D.N. Pritt. The court led by Judge R.S. Thacker, sentenced Kenyatta and his team on 8 April 1953 to seven years imprisonment with hard labour and indefinite restriction thereafter.Kenyatta remained in prison at Lokitaung in north western Kenya until April 1959, after which he was detained in Lodwar.
On 14 May 1960, he was elected KANU President in absentia. In 1960, Ambu Patel, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi formed the ‘Release Jomo Kenyatta Committee’. On 23rd march 1961, Kenyan leaders visited him in Lodwar. On 11 April 1961, he was moved to Maralal with daughter Margaret. On 14 August 1961, he was released.
Kenyatta was admitted into the LegCo after his release in 1961, after Kariuki Njiiri gave up his Kigumo seat for him. In 1961 and 1962, he led the KANU delegation to first and second Lancaster Conference in London to negotiate Kenya's independence constitution.
Elections were then held in May 1963 and KANU beat KADU by winning 83 seats out of 124. On 1 June 1963, Kenyatta became prime minister of the autonomous Kenyan government. On 1 June 1964, Kenyatta became an executive President following amendment of the Constitution to make Kenya a republic.
Historians have questioned Kenyatta’s alleged leadership of the radical Mau Mau movement. Kenyatta was in truth a political moderate. It is even alleged that the colonial administration deliberately arrested him to protect him from the radical KAU members who accused him of betraying their course. (There were three attempts to assassinate him before he was arrested). His marriage of Colonial Chief's daughters, his post independ-ence Kikuyu allies mainly being former colonial collaborators, and his short shrift treatment of former Mau Mau fight ers after he came to power, all strongly suggest he had scant regard for the Mau Mau
On 10 November 1964, KADU officially dissolved and its representatives joined KANU, forming a single party. Kenyatta was re-elected un-opposed in 1966, and the next year had the Constitution amended to expand his powers.
In the 1969 elections, Kenyatta banned the only other party, KPU led by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, detained its leaders, and called elections in which only KANU was allowed to participate. Kenyatta made use of detention, ethnic loyalties, and careful appointment of government jobs to maintain his commanding position in Kenya’s political system.Kenyatta was again re-elected unopposed as President in 1974. He remained president until his death four years later in 1978.
President Kenyatta had suffered a heart attack in 1966. In April 1977, then well into his 80s, he suffered a massive heart attack.On 14 August 1978, he hosted his entire family, including his son Peter Magana who flew in from Britain with his family, to a reunion in Mombasa. On 22 August 1978, he died in Mombasa due to ‘old age’. He was buried on 31 August 1978 at a mausoleum on Parliament grounds.
- There was a great split within KANU due to his land policy. Kenyatta compromised with the whites over their property. The Land-buying companies formed to buy European farms favoured one community.
- From the onset of independence, KADU advocated for Majimboism and therefore opposing national unity.
- The 1966 term featured border conflicts with Somalia, and more political opposition. He made the Kikuyu-led KANU practically the only political party of Kenya. He placed several of his Kikuyu tribesmen in most of the powerful state and security offices and posts.
- Increasing loss of confidence in his government suspected of complicity in murders of Pio Gama Pinto, Tom Mboya and J.M. Kariuki. MP and Lawyer C.M.G. Argwings-Kodhek and former Kadu Leader and Minister Ronald Ngala.
- Poverty, ignorance and disease were serious problems in Kenya in the early years of independence.
- There was shortage of manpower since the inherited educational policy left Africans illequipped for skilled employment.
- Kenya did not have adequate funds to provide for is development needs.
- There was a serious problem of poor transport and communication.
- The existence of Banditry (Shifta Menace) in north-eastern kenya also shifted attention from economic development.
- Mzee Jomo Kenyatta is credited with leading Kenya to independence and setting up the country as a relatively prosperous capitalist state.
- He oversaw a peaceful land reform process, oversaw the setting up of the institutions of independent Kenya, and also oversaw Kenya's admission into the United Nations.
- During his reign, the country was reasonably well governed, peaceful and stable, the economy developed and grew rapidly and attracted high levels of foreign investment, and a black Kenyan professional and business middle class was established.
- Kenyatta failed to mould Kenya, being its founding father, into a homogeneous multi-ethnic state. The country remains a de facto confederation of competing tribes.
- His resettlement of many Kikuyu tribesmen in the country's Rift Valley province is widely considered to have been done unfairly.
- His authoritarian style, with elements of patronage, favouritism, tribalism and/or nepotism drew criticism and dissent, and set a bad example followed by his successors.
- He had the Constitution radically amended to expand his powers, consolidating executive power.
- He was also been criticized for ruling through a post colonial clique of his relatives, mainly African Kikuyu colonial collaborators from Kiambu, while giving scant reward to the real fighters for Kenya's independence.
- Kenyatta has further been criticized for encouraging the culture of wealth accumulation by public officials their office influence, thereby deeply entrenching corruption in Kenya.
- His policies are also criticized for leading to a large income and development inequality gap in the country favouring mainly Nairobi and the Country's Central Highlands, over others.
Thomas Odhiambo Mboya was born on August 15, 1930 in Kilimambogo, near Thika town.In 1942, he joined St. Mary's School Yala. In 1946, he went to the Holy Ghost College (later Mang'u High School), where he passed well enough to proceed to do his Cambridge School Certificate.
In 1948, Mboya joined the Royal Sanitary Institute's Medical Training School at Nairobi, qualifying as an inspector in 1950 and employed by the Nairobi City Council. In 1955, he attended Ruskin College, Oxford, where he studied industrial management. In 1956, he returned to Kenya and joined politics at the height of Mau Mau uprising.
A year after joining African Staff Association, he was elected its president. He molded it into a trade union named the Kenya Local Government Workers' Union. Upon returning from Britain, he contested and won a seat against incumbent C.M.G. Argwings-Kodhek. In 1957, he formedhis own party, the People's Congress Party. In 1958, during the All-African Peoples' Conference in Ghana, convened by Kwame Nkrumah, Mboya was elected as the Conference Chairman at the age of 28. In 1960, Mboya together with others formed KANU. As Secretary General of KANU, Mboya headed the Kenyan Lancaster House delegation.
After Kenya's independence on 1 June 1963, Mboya was elected as an MP for Nairobi Central Constituency (today: Kamukunji Constituency) and became Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. As Minister for Economic Planning and Development, he wrote "Sessional Paper 10" (adopted by Parliament in 1964), which provided a model of government based on African values. He was gunned down on July 5, 1969 on Moi Avenue, aged 38 years. Mboya left a wife and five children. He is buried in a mausoleum located in Rusinga Island which was built in 1970.
Ngala was born in 1922 at Gotani in Giriama country. In 1929 the family moved to Vishakani near Kaloleni, which was to be Ngala's home for the rest of his life. Ngala attended Alliance High School and Makerere University College where he gained a teaching diploma. He worked as a teacher and later became headmaster of Mbale Secondary School in Taita-Taveta. In 1952 he was transferred to Buxton School in Mombasa where he served as the principal.
Ngala was elected to the Legislative Council in 1957 to represent the Coast Rural constituency.He formed the African Elected Members Organization (AEMO) together with other elected African MPs.at a meeting held on May 14, 1960 in Kiambu he was elected as the KANU's treasurer, a position he declined to take. At a meeting held in Ngong on June 25, 1960, the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) was formed with Ngala as its leader, in opposition to KANU.At the 1961 legislative council elections Ngala formed the first African government. Ngala became Leader of Government Business and later Prime Minister.
On 12 November 1964 the leaders of KADU, including Ronald Ngala, Masinde Muliro and Daniel arap Moi decided to dissolve KADU and join KANU. Ngala in the post independence periodRonald Ngala was made Minister of Cooperatives and Social Services in the Kenyatta government. He went on to become one of KANU’s vice-presidents at the 1966 Limuru Conference. Ngala remained active in the government until he died in a road accident in 1972. The circumstances of Ngala's death in 1972 were suspicious.
Daniel Arap Moi was born on 2nd September, 1924 in Kurieng'wo in Sacho Location of Baringo County, raised by his mother Kimoi Chebii following the early death of his father. His elder brother Tuitoek played a guardian role, influencing him to go to school at an early age. In 1934, Moi joined African Inland Mission School, Kabartonjo. On October 20th 1936 he was baptised Daniel. In 1938, he transferred to African Inland Mission, Kapsabet and later to Government African School, Kapsabet where he was a school captain and a captain of the football team. He attended Tambach Teachers Training College. He worked as a teacher from 1946 until 1955.
He was posted as a Head teacher at Kabarnet where he studied privately and passed London Matriculation Examinations. He was promoted in 1949 to the rank of P2 and transferred to Tambach Government African School as a Teacher Trainer. President Moi married Helena (Lena) Bommet in 1950 and they were blessed with 8 children; 3 daughters and five sons, (Jennifer, Doris and adopted daughter June; Jonathan, Raymond, John Mark, Philip and Gideon). But they separated in 1974, before his presidency.. Lena died in 2004.
In October 1955 the Electoral College selected Moi from a list of eight nominated candidates to fill a vacancy left by Joseph ole Tameno who resigned from the unofficial benches of the legislative council. In 1957, when elections were held, for LEGCO, Moi won with a landslide against Justus Ole Tipis and later joined AEMO. In 1959, he led AEMO members to visit Jomo Kenyatta in detention in Lodwar.
In 1960 he founded the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) with Ronald Ngala to challenge the Kenya African National Union (KANU) led by Jomo Kenyatta.Moi was among the Kenyan delegation under the auspices of KADU who went to the London Constitutional talks of June 1960. Moi was elected to the Kenyan parliament in 1963 from Baringo North. Since 1966 until his retirement in 2002 he served as the Baringo Central MP and only served as a vice -president from 1967 until 1978 when he became the president.
In 1976, the Kiambu Mafia, tried to infamously change the constitution to prevent the vicepresident automatically assuming power in the event of the president's death. However, Kenyatta withstood the political pressure and safeguarded Moi's position.
When Jomo Kenyatta died on 22 August 1978, Moi became president. Political realities dictated that he would continue to beholden to the Kenyatta system which he had inherited. On 1 August 1982, fate played into Moi's hands when forces loyal to his government defeated an attempted coup d'état by Air Force officers led by Hezekiah Ochuka. Moi took the opportunity to dismiss political opponents and consolidate his power reducing the influence of Kenyatta's men in the cabinet. He appointed supporters to key roles and changed the constitution to establish a de jure single-party state.
Moi, his regime now faced an economy stagnating under rising oil prices and falling prices for agricultural commodities, singlehandedly convinced the KANU delegates at a conference at Kasarani in December, 1991 over the restoration of a multi-party system in 1992 and 1997, marred by political violence and absence of an effective and organized opposition, Moi had no difficulty in winning, skillfully exploited Kenya's mix of ethnic tensions. Mwai Kibaki was elected President on 29 December 2002 and Moi handed over power to him.
After leaving office in December 2002, Moi lived in retirement but still retained some popularity with the masses. He spoke out against a proposal for a new constitution in 2005. On 25 July 2007, Kibaki appointed Moi as special peace envoy to Sudan.
On 28 August 2007, Moi announced his support for Kibaki's re-election. Moi owns the Kiptagich Tea Factory, established in 1979, which in 2009 the factory was under threat of being closed down by the government during the Mau Forest evictions.
The major test to His leadership was in August 1982 when a detachment of Airforce soldiers attempted to overthrow his government but they were crushed.
- Moi served as Chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) for two consecutive terms - 1981 and 1982.
- He has also been involved in mediation between various conflicting sides in Uganda, Congo, Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Mozambique, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Burundi etc.
- He served as Chairman of Preferential Trade Area (1989-1990), COMESA (1999-2000), E.A. Co-operation (1996- 2002) and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development IGAD (1993 -1998).
- He has travelled widely, being called upon as a president to provide peace keeping forces in troubled parts of the world like Chad, Uganda, Namibia, Mozambique, Iran/Iraq, Kuwait, Yugoslavia, Liberia, Morocco, Angola, Serbia/ Croatia, D.R. Congo, Sierra Leone and East Timor.
- Moi has supported the formation of regional economic bodies to increase trade and as a means for the developing countries to have a united voice in the global economy.
- On 30th December 2002, Moi handed over power to Mwai Kibaki in a peaceful transition that followed the Narc victory over Kanu in the December 2002 General Elections.
- Currently, Moi is setting up a foundation through which he hopes to participate in solving conflicts in the horn of African and the Great Lakes Region as well as help rehabilitate street children and those orphaned by HIV/aids.
Oginga Odinga was born at Nyamira Kang’o, in Sakwa location in Bondo, in October, 1911. Christened Obadiah Adonijah, he later renounced his Christian names and became known as Ajuma Oginga Odinga.Young Odinga began his formal education in 1926, at Maranda. He sat for his common entrance examination in 1929. He Attended Maseno School where he sat his STD 8 exams in 1934. He enrolled at Alliance High School in 1935 upto, finishing his formal education with a diploma in education from Makerere University College in 1939. From 1940 to 1942 Odinga taught mathematics at the Church Missionary Society school, Maseno. From 1943 to 1946 he was headmaster of the Maseno Veterinary School. Odinga and Economic and social independence
In 1944, he quit teaching and formed the Bondo Thrift Association in 1945.In 1947, he founded the Luo Thrift and Trading Corporation for commercial and political purposes, serving as its managing director until 1962. LUTATCO build their first shop, Maseno Store, posho mills at Ngiya, Bondo and Dudi. The company owned Ramogi Press in Nairobi in 1947, publishing a Dholuo newspaper, Ramogi, edited by Achieng Oneko, Odinga’s student in Maseno School. They also published Nyanza Times, Radioposta, Sauti ya Mwafrika and Mumenyereri. Between 1956 and 1957, they built Ramogi House and Africa House Kisumu.
He helped to form the Luo Union, which brought together all the Luo people. His efforts earned him admiration and recognition among the Luo, who revered him as Ker – a title previously held by the fabled classical Luo king, Ramogi Ajwang, who reigned 400 years before him. Odinga became known as Jaramogi (man of the people of Ramogi).
Odinga travelled across the major towns in East Africa raising funds that resulted in the building of the Ofafa Memorial Hall in Kisumu in 1957 which became the headquarters of the Luo Union.
In 1947, he won the central Nyanza African District Council elections. In 1948 he joined Kenya African Union (KAU) having been influenced by a Luo Union and KAU leader, Ambrose Ofafa. In 1957 and became the political spokesman of the Luo. The same year, he was elected member of the Legislative Council for the Central Nyanza constituency. He became the chairperson of AEMO formed by the eight African elected Members of the LEGCO.
He with Mboya and Kiano formed the Kenya Independence Movement after AEMO began to disintegrate. After the 1960 Lancaster House Conference, attended by a unified African delegation, Odinga emerging as one of the radical group leader, dissatisfied Africans with the conference decisions.Odinga and other members of the legislative council formed the Kenya African National Union (KANU). Odinga's KANU used its strong showing in the 1961 general elections to help gain Kenyatta's release.
Kenya gained independence in Dec 1963, and Odinga was appointed minister for home affairs.When Kenya became a Republic in 1964, he was its first Vice-President. As Vice President he did not agree with Jomo Kenyatta's government, and he resigned his post and quit KANU in 1966 to form the Kenya People's Union (KPU).
He openly challenged the government's use of private and foreign investment capital and its close ties with the West. Within KANU, a coalition formed against Odinga and in 1966 a KANU reorganization conference abolished his post of party vice-president. In October 1969, Odinga together with Achieng Oneko and other KPU members were jailed by the government. The KPU was banned, and he stayed in prison for 15 months.
Odinga remained an opposition leader throughout the 1970s. After Kenyatta's death in 1978, the new president, Daniel Arap Moi, tried to bring Odinga back into KANU. Moi, appointed Odinga as chairman of the Cotton Lint and Seed Marketing Board where he did not last long, because he was still outspoken against Kenyatta's policies. When Odinga was reinstated into the party in 1980, he attacked Moi and Kenyatta as corrupt and protested U.S. military presence in Kenya.
Odinga attempted to register a political party in 1982, but his plans were foiled when Kenya was made a de jure single-party state in 1982, KANU party again banished Odinga. Throughout the 1980s, Odinga remained vocal in calling for democracy. In 1984, he tried to launch and register the Ramogi Development Trust (RADET) but the government denied it registration.
In 1991, Odinga founded the National Democratic Party, but the government refused to recognize it and briefly jailed Odinga. Later that year Odinga and five other opposition leaders formed the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD). But FORD split in 1992, and Jaramogi formed FORD-K finishing fourth behind Moi, Matiba and Kibaki.
In 1993, Odinga's reputation suffered when he admitted taking a campaign contribution from a bank accused of bribing government officials. In the months before his death in January 1994, Odinga tried to reconcile his branch of FORD with KANU, but without success.
Maathai was born on April 1, 1940 in the Ihithe village, Nyeri County, in the central region to Muta Njugi, a farm labourer on a white owned farm in the rift valley. In 1950, she joined Ihithe Primary School for primary education in 1951, Maathai moved to St. Cecilia's Intermediate Primary School at the Mathari Catholic Mission in Nyeri where she studied for four years.During this time, she converted to Catholicism, taking the Christian name Mary Josephine. In 1956 she joined Loreto High School Limuru.
She was chosen to study at American universities in September 1960 under the Kennedy Airlift or Airlift Africa. In 1964, she joined the University of Pittsburgh to study for a master's degree in biology.In January 1966, upon her return to Kenya, Maathai dropped her Christian name, preferring to be known by her birth name, Wangari Muta. In April 1966, she met Mwangi Mathai, whom she later married in 1969 and had three children with him.In 1971, she became the first Eastern African woman to receive a Ph.D., (in Anatomy) from the University of Nairobi. She was a member of the Nairobi branch of the Kenya Red Cross Society, becoming its director in 1973. In 1979, her husband, Mwangi Mathai divorced her, saying she was too strong-minded for a woman and wife and accusing her of adultery with another Member of Parliament.
In 1979, Maathai ran for the position of ch airman of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK). She lost, but was chosen to be the vice-chairman of the organization. In 1980, Maathai was elected chairman of the NCWK unopposed. However NCWK was left virtually bankrupt, as Future funding by government was channeled to Maendeleo Ya Wanawake a progovernment splinter group.
In 1982, she resigned from the University of Nairobi to campaign for a Parliamentary seat in her home region of Nyeri. However, she was disqualified from vying. On February 28, 1992, Maathai and others took part in a hunger strike in Uhuru Park, to pressure the government to release political prisoners. The protest continued until early 1993, when the prisoners were finally released.
After the first multi-party election of Kenya, in 1992, Maathai traveled with friends and the press to areas of violence in order to encourage them to cease fighting. After her friend and supporter Dr. Mukanga was kidnapped, Maathai chose to go into hiding.
During the elections of 1997, Maathai ran for parliament and for president as a candidate of the Liberal Party. She lost the election. On July 7, 2001, shortly after planting trees at Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park in Nairobi to commemorate Saba Saba Day, Maathai was again arrested. Later that evening, she was again released without being charged.
Maathai again campaigned for parliament in the 2002 elections, this time as a candidate of the National Rainbow Coalition; she won with an overwhelming 98% of the vote. In January 2003, she was appointed Assistant Minister in the Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources and served in that capacity until November 2005.
In December 2007, choosing to run as the candidate of a smaller party Maathai was, defeated in the parliamentary election.
- Following the establishment of the Environment Liaison Centre in 1974, Maathai became the chair of the board. In 1974, with her husband as the MP for Lang’ata constituency, Maathai founded the Envirocare Ltd., a business that involved the planting of trees to conserve the environment. This led to the planting of her first tree nursery, in a government tree nursery in Karura Forest. On June 5, 1977, marking World Environment Day, Maathai led the NCWK in a procession from Kenyatta International Conference Centre to Kamukunji Park where they planted seven trees in honor of historical community leaders.
- This was the first "Green Belt" planted by what became the Green Belt Movement.
- In 1982, she was approached by Wilhelm Elsrud, executive director of the Norwegian Forestry Society. Who partnered with the Green Belt Movement and offered her the position of coordinator. In 1987, Maathai stepped down as chairman of the NCWK and focused her attention on the newly separate nongovernmental organization.
- In October 1989, Maathai learned of a plan to construct the 60 -story Kenya Times Media Trust Complex in Uhuru Park. Her protests, some leading to her being harassed, led to the foreigninvestors to cancel the project in January 1990. In June 1992, both Maathai and President Arap Moi traveled to Rio de Janeiro for the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) where she became a chief spokesperson despite government protest.
- In 1998, Maathai protested against the privatization of large areas of public land in the Karura Forest. In August 16, 1999, when the president announced that he was banning all allocation of public land.
- On October 8, 2004, Maathai became the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. On March 28, 2005, she was elected the first president of the African Union's Economic, Social and Cultural Council and was appointed a goodwill ambassador for an initiative aimed at protecting the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem.
- As a member of the Kenya Association of University Women, she was on the forefront in campaigning for equal benefits for the women while at the university and also as a member National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK).
- She succeeded in stopping the government from encroaching on a public utility at Uhuru park to construct the 60-story Kenya Times Media Trust Complex.
- She succeeded in pressurizing the government to release political prisoners through painful hunger protests at Uhuru Park. The prisoners were released in early 1993.
- Maathai was the first African woman, and the first environmentalist, to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.
- Maathai has been very instrumental in environmental protection through the Green Belt Movement.