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"Mama Africa" wins Nobel Peace Prize

There she is… Mama Africa! The Africans are elated. Indeed they are in rapture over the award of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize to none other than their very own Mama Africa-Wangari Maathai; for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.

Since the award was announced on the morning of Friday, Oct. 8, the talking drums have been in full beat, the palm wine is flowing, emails are being dispatched and phones have not stopped ringing, as African women around the world celebrate the recognition of Mama Wangari for her environmental activism: working to secure the living environment across Africa.

As the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize she was praised by the awarding committee as "a source of inspiration for everyone in Africa fighting for sustainable development, democracy and peace". The committee also appreciated her for taking "a holistic approach to sustainable development that embraces democracy, human rights and women's rights in particular". She thinks globally and acts locally, they said.

Wnagary Maathai ,also known as Wangary Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, Kenya (Africa) in 1940. The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, Prof. Maathai obtained a degree in Biological Sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas ,which is a rarity for girls in rural areas of Kenya. She subsequently earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh . After pursuing her doctoral studies in Germany she returned to Kenya and started working in veterinary medicine research at the University of Nairobi. Eventually , despite the skepticism and even opposition of the male students and faculty, she was able to earn a Ph.D. there. She worked her way up through the academic ranks, becoming head of the veterinary medicine faculty. In both cases, she was the first woman to attain those positions in the region. Afterwards, Wangari Maathai became involved in organizing work for poor people and eventually this became a national grass-roots organization, providing work and improving the environment at the same time. She was active in the National Council of Women of Kenya in 1976 -87 and was it chairman in 1981-87.

Maathai founded the Green Belt movement, one of the world's most successful programs to combine community development with environmental protection in Kenya in 1977. A 1989 United Nations report noted that only 9 trees were being replanted in Africa for every 100 that were cut down, causing serious problems with deforestation: soil runoff, water pollution, difficulty finding firewood, lack of animal nutrition, etc. In respect of this, she focused on planting trees.
The tree-planting also serves as a springboard to address other interrelated issues -- food production, firewood, soil erosion, desertification -- that affect African rural farmers.

More than one million young people have been recruited to plant green belts around their schools and to care for the seedlings until they are self-sufficient on their farms and on schools and church compounds.

As of July 1991, the movement has planted 10 million trees, has established 1,500 nurseries and has involved 50,000 women who plant seedlings and distribute and care for the trees. The movement has built the self-reliance and self-confidence of tens of thousands living in poverty, convincing them that planting trees will make a difference in their struggle to improve their lives and those of future generations. The program has been carried out primarily by women in the villages of Kenya, who through protecting their environment and through the paid employment for planting the trees are able to better care for their children and their children's future. As a whole the Green Belt Movement went on to campaign on education, nutrition and other issues important to women. Because it is inexpensive and replicable, the Green Belt Movement has proven to be an effective method for rural development .It attracted the attention and support of people and governments throughout the developed world eventually.

In 1986 the Movement established a Pan African Green Belt Network and has exposed over 40 individuals from other African counties to the approach. Some of these individuals have established similar tree planting initiatives in their own countries or they use some of the Green belt movement methods to improve their efforts. So far some countries have successfully launched such initiatives in Africa (Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Lesotho, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe etc).

The Green Belt Movement and Prof. Wangari Maathai are featured in several publications including The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach (by Prof. Wangari Maathai ), Speak Truth to Power ,etc. She and The Green Belt Movement have also received numerous awards, such as The Sophie Prize , The Petra Kelly Prize for Environment , Arbor Day Foundation's J. Sterling Morton Award , Conservation Scientist Award , the WANGO Environment Award etc.

Speaking recently on the BBC's Africa Live programme she said her tree planting campaign was not at all popular when it first began. "It took me a lot of days and nights to convince people that women could improve their environment without much technology or without much financial resources."

In Sept. 1998 she launched a campaign of the Jubilee 2000 coalition. She has embarked on new challenges, playing a leading global role as a co-chair, of the Jubilee 2000 Africa Campaign, which seeks cancellation of the unplayable backlog debts of the poor countries in Africa by the year 2000. Her campaign against land grabbing and rapacious allocation of forests land also caught the limelight in the recent past.

Wangari Maathai is also internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for democracy and human rights. She has addressed the UN on several occasions and spoke on behalf of women at special sessions of the General Assembly for the five-year review of the earth summit. She served on the commission for Global Governance and commission on the future. Prof. Maathai is also listed on UNEP's Global 500 Hall of Fame and named one of the 100 heroines of the world. In June 1997, Wangari was elected by Earth Times as one of 100 persons in the World who have made a difference in the environmental arena.

Prof. Maathaihas also received honorary doctoral degrees from several institutions around the world: William's college, MA USA (1990), Hobart & William Smith Colleges (1994), University of Norway (1997). In January, 2002, she accepted a position as Visiting Fellow at Yale University's Global Institute for Sustainable Forestry.

Maathai serves on the boards of several organizations including the UN Secretary Generals Advisory Board on Disarmament, The Jane Goodall Institute, Women and Environment Development Organization (WEDO), World Learning for International Development, Green Cross International, Environment Liaison Center International, the WorldWIDE Network of Women in Environmental Work and National Council of Women of Kenya.

In December 2002, Prof. Maathai was elected to parliament with an overwhelming 98% of the vote. She was subsequently appointed by The President, as Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife in Kenya's ninth parliament.

Professor Maathai's most recent contribution to the fight against degradation of the Kenyan environment was her successful grassroots effort to block the construction of a planned multi-million dollar high-rise complex that would have obliterated much of Uhuru Park, one of Nairobi's largest green belts. Through this she got the attention of the whole world.

Maathai is a strong voice speaking for the best forces in Africa to promote peace and good living
conditions on that continent. As a valiant fighter of conscience , she has been arrested several times for campaigning against deforestation in Africa. But she didn't stop her journey. We hope her success will generate many more "Mama Africa"s from all over the globe, especially from the Third world countries.

By Nabila Quamrun Nahar

Study Buddies

DU admission test dates and decrees

This week we were supposed to give you a few hints about how to prepare yourself for the admission test. But in the face of the new changes in the rules of the admission test by the DU authority we are obliged to inform you in time about those before we proceed with the preparation. According to The Daily Star (Oct 22) the DU authority has brought the following major changes in the coming admission test.

1. Kha, Ga, Gha and Umo units require GPA 6 for all and Ka unit requires GPA 7 excluding the marks of the fourth subject.
2. You will have to answer 120 MCQ's each bearing one mark and the pass mark is 40.
3. You lose one mark for every four mistakes in your MCQ answers.
4. You will sit for the Gha unit only if you intend to get admitted to the Social Science Faculty. And not to change your HSC group.
5. If you are a science student then you can appear for all five units.
6. If you are a humanities or commerce student your chances remain the same as before.
7. The Institute of Social Welfare and Research will take separate tests for the admission of first year honours students.
8. The player quota is cancelled.
9. The requirement for the GCE/O Level and A Level remains the same.

For your convenience once again the distribution of the units after changes are below.
Ka unit for admission in Science Faculty
Kha unit for admission in the Arts Faculty
Ga unit for admission in Commerce Faculty
Gha unit for admission in Social Science Faculty
Umo unit for admission in Law Faculty

Distribution and submission of forms for first year honours classes will begin from Nov 27 and continue till Dec 13. That means your last date for submitting the admission form is Dec 13. The form will cost you Tk 250. The forms for different units will available at:

Kha and Gha units TSC branch of Janata Bank
Ka and Umo units Curzon Hall branch of Agrani Bank
Ga unit Administrative Building branch of Sonali Bank

Dates of admission tests for different units:
Ka unit Jan 4
Kha unit Jan 14
Ga unit Dec 31
Gha unit Feb 11
Umo unit Jan 7
So buddies, there is very little time for you to waste. Next week we are coming with back to give you a prep plan.

By Durdana Ghias

Word Power

All around the globe, people are dumber than you actually think. They're scared of all sorts of petty things, starting from plants to wollen Teddy Bears. Often these fear reaches such an extent that it ends up yurning into a mental illness, hence phobias...
Take the following test , and find out how many phobias you're actually aware of.
logophobia is the fear of : A. thunder. B. pain. C. studies. D. pencils.
callophobia is the fear of : A. beauty. B. night. C. old men. D. rain.
kleptophobia is the fear of : A. air. B. fog. C. knives. D. thieves.
osmophobia is the fear of : A. newness. B. odour. C. poverty. D. solitude.
tapheophobia is the fear of : A. burial alive. B. death. C. filth. D. insects.
spectrophobia is the fear of : A: heat. B. crowds. C. emptiness. D. mirror.
plutophobia is the fear of : A. philosophy. B. wealth. C. spiders. D. pleasure.
1. C-studies. 2. A-beauty. 3. D-thieves. 4. B- odour. 5. A-burial alive. 6. D-mirror. 7. B-wealth.
Taking one point for every correct answer, your result:
0-2: Poor.
3-5: Average.
6-7: Good.
8 : Exceptional.





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