Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Ma...

About This Episode


Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai tells the story of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement and follows Maathai, the movement’s founder and the first environmentalist and African woman to win the Nobel Prize. Maathai discovered her life’s work by reconnecting with the rural women with whom she had grown up: The women told her they were walking long distances for firewood and that clean water was scarce. The soil was disappearing from their fields and their children were suffering from malnutrition. “Well, why not plant trees?” she suggested.

Maathai soon found that tree planting had a ripple effect of empowering change. In tending their nurseries, women had a legitimate reason to gather outside their homes and discuss the roots of their problems. They soon found themselves working against deforestation, poverty, ignorance, embedded economic interests and government corruption; they became a national political force that helped to bring down the country’s 24-year dictatorship.

Using archival footage and first-person accounts, the film documents dramatic political confrontations of 1980s and 1990s Kenya, and captures Maathai’s infectious determination and unwavering courage through in-depth conversations with the film’s subjects.