I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Professor Wangari Maathai. She was known to the world as a recipient of the Nobel Prize. She was known to Africa as a leader, educator, environmentalist, and mother. To many Americans, she was a role model and colleague. I am honored to have called her a friend.
We celebrate the life and the extraordinary contributions of Professor Maathai because she made a decisive difference in the lives of so many. She worked tirelessly — to the very end of her life — to overcome poverty, injustice, and environmental degradation by empowering and mobilizing marginalized members of society, especially women.
Professor Maathai studied in the United States in her youth, and retained close ties with many Americans. She was a frequent visitor to the United States and engaged extensively with our leaders, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden.
Her legacy is a solid foundation for others to build upon throughout the world.
I extend my condolences to the family of Professor Maathai during this difficult time.
Ambassador Jonathan S. Gration, Maj Gen, USAF (Ret)