Despite repeated jailings, beatings, and other obstacles along the way, Maathai created the Green Belt Movement and never relented in her goal to bring democracy to Kenya.
©2006 Wangari Muta Maathai; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
"Wangari Maathai's memoir is direct, honest, and beautifully written - a gripping account of modern Africa's trials and triumphs, a universal story of courage, persistence, and success against great odds in a noble cause." (Bill Clinton)
Maathai's story is an amazing one, showing her resilience in the face of a horrible Kenyan government trying to silence the democratic and environmental aspirations of her and others. I can not imagine the arrests, beatings, and humiliations this woman went through, and kept fighting for what she knew was right.
But this is a review of her memoir, not of her. While her actions were amazing, I feel the book ended up lacking something. After some reflection, I feel my disappointment in the book is due to her inability to admit a single mistake in her life. She describes her simple beginnings and struggles, and doesn't appear arrogant, but all her decisions and actions were apparently perfect, because she never looks back critically and admits a personal mistake. This is unfortunate, because I think great people who show their personal failings are so much more admirable, sympathetic, and an example of virtue.
Mistakes are human and inevitable. If she can't admit to any, then her memoir is not being truthful, and I end up questioning the accuracy of the rest of it. Examples: she drove to her ex-husband's house, dropped their kids in his driveway without any notice or communication, then drove off and left the country for a year. Does that sound like good behavior? She insists she was trying to bring her ex-husband and children closer together, but it sure doesn't sound like virtuous behavior to me. She claims she ran for president of Kenya to "bring together the opposition candidates", yet when the election occurred, she did not join any other candidate or lend her support to anyone else, and therefore just divided the opposition even more. The repressive dictator ended up winning again, to everyone's disappointment. Again, she doesn't recognize any personal mistake here, where I see a pretty obvious one.
I recommend the book for historical and personal information, but I caution that it might not leave you as motivated as you'd expect.
Didn't "read" a hard copy (I love my Kindle and listening to books), but the clearly female African voice made the book that much more conversational.
As noted above, the realism of the reader's voice makes the story much more personal.
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