Wangari Maathai, July 17th

Our series on Climate and Environmental Crises concludes with Wangari Maathai’s “The Challenge for Africa: a new vision”. We will meet to discuss two chapters from this book at Black Book Cafe on July 17th, 7.30-9.30pm.

Our discussion will focus on Chapters 8 and 12 – available as a pdf download via this link, though you are welcome to read the whole book. Chapter 8 (pages 160-183) is titled “Culture: The Missing Link”, in which Maathai investigates how her “personal recognition of the importance of culture led [her] to create the Civic and Environemental Education seminars as part of the Green Belt Movement’s work” . In Chapter 12 (239-259), “Environment and Development”, Maathai says she “argue[s] for the centrality of the environment in all discussions of, and approaches to, addressing the challenges Africa faces”.

Events are free to attend but we ask for a donation of £2-3 from anyone who can afford it to cover venue costs. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topic, you do not need to have a university education or have ever been to a reading group before, and we even welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen! Facebook event – Wangari Maathai: The Challenge for Africa

Information about the book (from the cover of the 2009 William Heinemann edition): “In this urgent yet optimistic new work, Wangari Maathai – winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement – provides a unqiue perspective on the fate of Africa, and offers hope for a new way forward.

The challenges facing Africa are real and vast: terrible conflicts wrack the Darfur region of Sudan, southern Somalia, the Niger delta and eastern Congo; elections have been violently contested in Kenya and Zimbabwe; drought and floods are prevalent in both west and east; and HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis ravage the continent. Natural resources are drying up, and changing rainfall patterns – partly as a result of global warming – directly jeopardise the livelihood of the great majority of Africans who still rely on the land for their survival.

All too often, Africa’s problems are reduced to a series of tableaux vivants connoting dependency, desperation or savagery. What is needed is a different vision – one that comes out of Africa, from an African. Informed by the author’s three decades as an environmental activist and campaigner for democracy, The Challenge for Africa surveys what is really hampering the contintent’s development, and argues that the future of Africa lies not in international aid, but in the hands of Africans themselves.

Written in Wangari Maathai’s searingly decisive yet inspiring voice, and offering nothing less than a manifesto for twenty-first century Africa, The Challenge for Africa celebrates the enduing potential of the human spirit, and reminds us that change is always possible.”

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