Kenyan varsity honours Nobel prize winner

Noble prize winner Laureate Wangari Maathai has been awarded a honorary degree during the 32nd graduation ceremony of Kenya’s University of Nairobi…

The crowd, including 4,025 graduating students, broke into cheers as the environment assistant minister was honoured with a Doctor of Science degree by the varsity’s Chancellor Dr Joe Wanjui.


Maathai, an environmentalist and human rights campaigner from Kenya became the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace prize, and in her address appealed to African leaders to use home-grown solutions to solve problems affecting the continent.

She said everyone, regardless of their gender or ethnic grounds, is entitled to national resources, which she lamented were underutilised making them the leading cause of poverty among Africans.

“Natural resources should be our source of wealth and not poverty, but we do not know how to use it, therefore making our engine to posterity to be the channel of our widespread poverty,” said Maathai.

"We must use our knowledge to empower our people not to steal from them, we should use it to give something back to our people,” she said.

Professor Maathai noted that power has no impact unless it was used to protect the vulnerable people in society.

The honour bestowed on Maathai was part of a countywide recognition of her efforts that climaxed in her native Nyeri political constituency, when the community rolled out the red carpet for the Nobel prize winner’s return home in January.

The Tetu residents, whom she represents as their member of parliament, broke with rigid African traditions and enthroned her as their “local spokesman” in a ceremony complete with adornment.

Adornment, an exercise that has over the years been preserved for men achievers, was granted to Maathai on the grounds of beating the men to rise to the top humanity’s highest peace podium.

Speaking at the same function, education assistant minister, Beth Mugo, challenged public universities to strike a balance between consultancy services and teaching.

University dons, she said should not spend too much time engaging in consultancy services at the expense of teaching and research.

She hailed public universities for streamlining procurement a move she said has sealed all loopholes of financial mismanagement.

Mugo also called for a need for institutions of higher learning to come up with a broad policy of addressing students with physical challenges.