The Vision of Wangari Maathai, a film by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater

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Who’s Who in the Film

Brief bios of main figures

Wangari Muta Maathai
Wangari Muta Maathai was the founder of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya as well as the first environmentalist and first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004). Born in Ihithe, Kenya in 1940, she obtained her B.Sc. (1964) and M.Sc. (1966) in the United States, and then earned her Ph.D. (1971) at the University of Nairobi, the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate. Professor Maathai became chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy in 1976 and an associate professor in 1977, another first for a woman in the region. From 2002-2007, Professor Maathai represented the Tetu constituency in Kenya’s parliament and served as Assistant Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in Kenya’s ninth parliament from 2003–2007. She was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the Congo Basin Forest Ecosystem by the eleven Heads of State in the Congo region in 2005. In 2006, she founded the Nobel Women’s Initiative with her sister laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams, and Mairead Corrigan. In recognition of her deep commitment to the environment, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General named Professor Maathai a UN Messenger of Peace in December 2009, with a focus on the environment and climate change. Professor Maathai was deeply connected to the land and people of Kenya. Her rural roots informed every action she took on behalf of the Earth and all its inhabitants. She died on September 25th, 2011 from ovarian cancer.
Lilian Wanjiru Njehu
Lilian NJehu, GBM member, Kanyariri, kenya.
Lilian Wanjiru Njehu was a member of Kanyariri Mother’s Union Tree Nursery, the first Green Belt Movement community group to start a tree nursery. Lilian was also a close friend of Wangari’s and was instrumental in keeping her safe during the years when Wangari’s life was in danger.
Kamoji Wachiira

Kamoji Wachiira formerly associate professor at the Kenyatta University, a botanist and ecologist, was a long-time democracy/human rights and environmental activist. Arrested and jailed twice by former President Moi’s regime in June 1982, he was finally imprisoned in July 1982 for three years without trial. Kamoji was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International in 1982 and later named Prisoner of the Month for July 1983. Granted asylum in Canada in late 1988, he now lives and works there – as well as continuing to advocate for environmental conservation and democratic reforms in both Kenya and Africa.
Vertistine Mbaya

Vertistine Mbaya was a Green Belt Movement founding board member and a long-time friend and colleague of Wangari Maathai’s at the University of Nairobi.
Ngorongo Makanga

Ngorongo Makanga was a pharmacist by trade, a member of the pro-democracy movement, and a cofounder, with Wangari Maathai, of the Green Party in Kenya.

Characters in order of appearance

Wangari Maathai
Founder of the Green Belt Movement and first environmentalist and African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004)
Naomi Kabura Mukunu
Chairperson, Kirangari Mwireri Women’s Group, Mirichu Network, Mirichu
Leah Kisomo
Vice Chair, Kyaume Network, Kyaume
Lilian Wanjiru Njehu
Kanyariri Mother’s Union Tree Nursery, Kanyariri, first community group to start a tree nursery
Rebah Wasike
Nursery Attendant, Wanyekwa Maramu Women’s Group, Malaha
Michael Blundell
British settler
Kamoji Wachiira
Environmental scientist and activist, political prisoner for three years
Moses Ndiritu Muta
Wangari Maathai’s brother
Njogu Kahare
Staff, Green Belt Movement
Kang’ethe Mungai
Human rights activist
Rose Wabuke
Treasurer, Malaha Sub-location Green Network, Malaha
Vertistine Mbaya
Founding board member of the Green Belt Movement; colleague of Wangari’s from the University of Nairobi
President Daniel arap Moi
2nd Kenyan president (1978 to 2002)
Ngorongo Makanga
Human rights activist, member of the pro-democracy movement and co-founder with Wangari Maathai of the Green Party in Kenya.
Njehu Gatabaki
Journalist and former MP
Ruth Wangari
Mother of political prisoner
Veronica Nduthu
Mother of political prisoner
Reverend Peter Njenga
Provost, All Saints Cathedral where group of protesting women were sheltered for 11 months starting in the spring of 1992
Kinyanjui Kiuno
Staff, Green Belt Movement
Fredrick Njau
Staff, Green Belt Movement
Major General Njuki Mwaniki
Embakasi Garrison spokesman for tree planting soldiers
Anastasia Njeri
Sunshine Women’s Group, Kangari
Purity Wairimu Maina
Karinga Women’s Group

Taking Root Film

a film by
Lisa Merton and Alan Dater

Marlboro Productions

Marlboro, Vermont