Be sure to see our latest film, "Taking Root: the Vision of Wangari Maathai!"

Taking Root Film image
Can the simple act of women planting trees
change the face of a nation?     It did.

TAKING ROOT: THE VISION OF WANGARI MAATHAI is the story of the growth of a woman and the grassroots movement she founded, the Green Belt Movement of Kenya. Together they have transformed their country and our understanding of the integral connections of sustainable development, ecological diversity, human rights, and democracy.

Planting trees for fuel and food is not something that anyone imagined as the first step toward the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet with that simple act, Wangari Maathai started down the path that led her to organize rural Kenyan women in a tree-planting project that reclaimed their land from 100 years of deforestation, restored indigenous agriculture, provided new sources of income, and gave these previously impoverished and powerless women a vital role in their country. They became Kenya's Green Belt Movement: their small organization found itself working successively against ignorance, against prejudice, against embedded economic interests, and political oppression, until they became a national force and in the face of violent government reaction helped to bring down Kenya's dictatorship. The Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 recognized Maathai for her 30-year struggle "to protect the environment, promote democracy, defend human rights, and ensure equality between men and women." In so doing, it also presented to the world a model of personal courage in her determination to follow the links from poverty to development, climate, economics, and democracy.

TAKING ROOT presents Kenya's future in action with the hope that Wangari Maathai's belief in the vital link between the health of the land, its people and its government will move beyond Kenya throughout Africa and the world.

Production Credits:

PRODUCED and DIRECTED by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater.

COMPOSER/MUSICIAN Samite, originally a native of Uganda, fled Idi Amin's dictatorship in 1982 and ended up in a refugee camp in Kenya. After leaving the refugee camp Samite had musical success in Kenya both with the African Heritage Band and as a solo act. He immigrated to the US in 1987 and thanks to an opening in an early Lady Smith Black Mambazo tour, he began building a reputation as a traditional African musician. In his music he is influenced by traditional African music, jazz, and classical. Samite has composed an original score for TAKING ROOT: THE VISION OF WANGARI MAATHAI.

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Wangari Maathai Photograph by: Alan Dater