Unbowed: a Memoir by Wangari Maathai

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Courtney Daily
Book Review
AAAS 351
Due 12/08/11
Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai

Unbowed was written to tell the captivating life story of Wangari Maathai. Maathai was a woman from Kenya who struggled against oppression due to her gender, ethnicity, and political belief. This woman achieved many first for the women of Kenya. She established the international Green Belt Movement, earned her Ph. D, and was the first African woman and environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize. This story gave life to what we learned in class. The movies and documentaries we watched never did the information justice. However, this book gave light to the struggles that many African people had to deal with during and after colonization. The book starts off with giving general knowledge about the Scramble for Africa. I thought this was helpful because in class we just talked about what it was, but in Unbowed you get the sense of how it really was. The European powers split up Africa in to regions not even considering the tribes that lived in these areas. The colonization not only had an effect on the tribes but it also effected the environment. In her memoir Maathai writes, “The missionaries were followed by traders and administrators who introduced new methods of exploiting our rich natural resources: logging, clear-cutting native forest, establishing plantations of imported trees, hunting wildlife, and undertaking expansive commercial agriculture. Hallowed landscapes lost their sacredness and were exploited as the local people became insensitive to the destruction, accepting it as a sign of progress.” (p. 6) This quote gives visual imagery of the effect that colonization had on Kenya. Colonization affected the tribes in many ways. The new settlers forced their religion upon the native people. Early on Maathai earned an education at a Catholic boarding school. While at school the Mau Mau rebellion was going on and during this time she was detained...
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