12 June 2019
Uhuru Park in Nairobi has the same function as Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York City: a green space in the middle of the city that helps to provide fresh air for its citizens. In 1989 President Daniel Arap Moi announced a plan to build a 62-storey skyscraper, complete with a statue of himself, in Uhuru Park. However, Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for encouraging women to plant trees in order to conserve the environment, ran a campaign protesting against this. “I feel compelled to fight for it so that my grandchildren may share that dream and that joy of freedom as they one day walk there,” she wrote. The ensuing protests were not well received by the government, but foreign investors pulled out and the project was shelved. Mrs. Maathai, whose Green Belt Movement planted an estimated 45 million trees in Kenya, became known as the Tree Mother of Africa, whereas Nairobi, which is rounded by rainforests, savannah grasslands and has an array of parks and open green spaces, is still recognized as the “green city in the sun”.