It is common for many of us Africans to honor our people when they die more than when alive. I remember an old relative in my upcountry home telling us to buy him a warm blanket and a suit when he is still alive and not to buy them when he is dead to bury him in a nice suit that will rot in the grave. This relative was very correct because he needed the items more when alive than dead, it is true we spend a lot and honor people more when they are dead then when alive.
I thought about this when the Government decided to give Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai a state funeral, 2 days (today and tomorrow) declared for mourning and the Kenyan flag to fly at half mast read all the stories here. There is no doubt she deserves the honors of a state burial but despite her excellent education background, efforts to conserve the environment, achievements and honors, she was not given a deserving honor by the Government when alive. Instead of being appointed as the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife she was appointed as an Assistant, surely she deserved a full Ministerial post and Kenyans also talked about it because they loved and adored her for her achievements.
She was very different from many African Women leaders because she valued African culture this can be seen in her name and the way she dressed, also on her beautiful photos of her in African attire. She was a woman of action apart from sitting in and addressing conferences, boardroom meetings on Environment; she went out of her way to plant the trees herself and risked her life when protesting depletion of forest and nature. She was also humble.
Many African leaders issue appointments based on loyalties and gender, Prof. Maathai’s case is a good example and it is time for leaders to honor and appoint personalities for their achievements when they are alive.
If not for her ailment leading to death and age, she would be a Presidential candidate to reckon with in the coming elections in Kenya.
RIP Mama Africa.