Nobel Peace winner set for jubilant homecoming

Villagers in Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai’s native Nyeri home rolled out the red carpet long before her homecoming party was scheduled…

Plans are at an advanced stage to welcome back Nobel Peace prize winner Laureate Wangari Maathai when she returns to her Tetu political constituency in Nyeri district, for the first time since being presented with the coveted prize in December.
Maathai an environmentalist and human rights campaigner from Kenya became the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

She was awarded the honour for her constant work fighting for democracy and peace in Africa.

Maathai saw off competition from the likes of former chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix and the head of the UN energy watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, to win the prize.

Maathai, who is also an elected member of parliament, will make the homecoming in complete contrast with yester years when police invaded and arrested such parties.

To recognise the ascendancy of their own daughter to the highest peace podium a 1000 trees will be planted on that day alone.

Local dancing groups are practicing for the fete, while others prepare the traditional Kikuyu language honour that entails the three ululations for female achievers (it’s traditionally five for the male).

It has been a beehive of activity in all the neighbouring constituencies in preparation for Maathai’s homecoming with the Green Belt Movement - the umbrella environmental body she has chaired for the last two decades, the provincial administration and local members of parliament moving to ensure that everything is in place ahead of her arrival in the area.

A welcoming party, to be hosted at an estimated Shs 400,000($5,000), is just one of the festivities on the cards.

At least 200 guests have already been invited. The four local authorities have contributed Shs 25,000($3,000) each as have each of the MPs from the larger Nyeri District- where President Mwai Kibaki hails from.

Several companies have also chipped in with Coca Cola Bottling Company donating drinks for the ceremony.

At a meeting held at IFAD hall in Nyeri town and chaired by co-ordinator of the organising committee and Nyeri Town legislator PG Mureithi, it was resolved that the welcoming party meet Prof Maathai, the environment assistant minister, at Karatina town where Mathira MP Nderitu Gachagua will oversee a tree planting ceremony.

The tour is, however, scheduled to commence at Ruiru in Thika district where she will make a stopover to receive greetings from the local people before stopping at Makutano on the Mwea-Nyeri-Nairobi road to receive a donation of thousands of indigenous tree seedlings.

She will also make a stopover at Mukurwe-ini with local MP Mutahi Kagwe before proceeding to Othaya town where National Security minister Chris Murungaru will receive her on behalf of President Mwai Kibaki.

The MP legislator will then enter her constituency in style, first making a stopover at Giakanja before proceeding to Dedan Kimathi stadium in Nyeri town where she will address those assembled.

A grand luncheon will be held at Outspan Hotel, where she first received the news that she had won the coveted prize last October.