Guest post from Habiba Chirchir of The Shelf.
The late Wangari Maathai (professor of veterinary anatomy and Nobel laureate) passed way 9/25/2011 and last weekend (ed: 9/21) I joined a group from SAIS (School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins) and friends of Wangari Gardens in memorializing the great professor. A commemorative garden was started last year (2012) by Friends of Wangari Gardens, the Greenbelt movement, the Kenya embassy in DC in collaboration with Casey Trees. A public park in NW DC (near Petworth metro) was allocated as Wangari Maathai’s memorial and subsequently the park was named Wangari Gardens.
During the inaugural memorial last year I participated in tree planting. This event was well attended including by the then Kenyan ambassador to the US Elkanah Odembo and Yusuf Hassan Member of Parliament for Kamukunji in Nairobi who was visiting at the time (unfortunately after that visit he sustained injuries in Nairobi from a grenade attack linked to the Al-Shabaab militia while in East Leigh. This year’s commemoration however, was lackluster, it was attended by few approximately 15 people. Our goal this time was to water the trees we planted the previous year. Also, since it is a public garden with a few vegetables and a number of fruit trees our other goal was to water and care for these vegies and the orchard. We accomplished the day’s goals and by noon most of the work was done. There was a last minute appearance by an embassy official who basically thanked everyone and took some photos for the embassy website (!) not at all surprising from a Kenya embassy official.
Unlike last year much to my chagrin there was no grilling afterwards and there was no coffee on arrival. Oh well, I guess there wasn’t sufficient funding for such ‘luxuries’ this year. Also, quite shamefully there were no Kenyans involved apart from yours truly and one SAIS person. The Wangari Gardens have set up volunteering hours on Sundays and anyone interested in getting involved e.g. in caring for the plants can find more information here http://wangarigardens.wordpress.com.