Unseen Passage: Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai devoted her life in protecting our planet and serving its people. As an academic, an activist and the founder of the Green Belt Movement, Wangari believed that saving our planet and changing our world went hand in hand. Through her work with the Green Belt movement, Wangari provided thousands of women with job training and opportunities and was responsible for the planting of millions of trees in her native country, Kenya. Wangari died of ovarian cancer in 2011, but not before leaving a substantial mark on the world she loved so much.

Wangari was born in a small village in Kenya in 1940. When she was eight years old, her family decided to send her to school. This was an unusual opportunity for girls in Kenya at this time but Wangari soon began to excel academically. In 1960, she earned a scholarship that allowed her to travel to the United States and attend college. She studied at a small Catholic school in Kansas where, in 1964, she earned her bachelor’s degree in biology. From there, she moved to the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a master’s degree in biological sciences. After completing her master’s degree, Wangari briefly studied in Germany before returning to Africa, where she continued her education at the University of Nairobi in her home country of Kenya. In 1971, she earned her doctorate in veterinary anatomy, making her the first woman in all of East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. She continued to make history throughout her career in academics, eventually becoming the first woman in the region to chair a department and the first to become an associate professor.

In addition to her work as a professor, Wangari was also extremely active with the National Council of Women. In 1976, the same year she began chairing the Veterinary Anatomy department at the University of Nairobi, Wangari began talking to the Council of Women about an idea that would form the basis of the Green Belt Movement.

Q. On the basis of your reading and understanding of the above passage, answer the following:

  1. The main purpose of Wangari Maathai’s life was to protect our
  2. At what age, did Wangari Maathai go to school?
  3. In which subject did Wangari Maathai pursue her higher education ?
  4. In 1976 Wangari Maathai seeded the idea of Green Belt Movement. (True/False)
  5. Wangari believed that the world couldn’t be changed without
    1. women’s involvement
    2. Green Belt Movement
    3. saving the planet
    4. her contribution
  6. Identify the word from para 2 whose antonym is ‘common’.
    1. unusual
    2. small
    3. opportunity
    4. excel
  7. Wangari could travel and attend college in the United States because
    1. she was academically excellent.
    2. she had earned a scholarship for her academic excellence in Kenya.
    3. her family had sent her to school.
    4. had worked to save the planet.
  8. Wangari was the first woman to earn a doctorate degree in all of East and Central Africa. (True / False)


  1. Planet and serve its people.
  2. At the age of eight.
  3. Biology.
  4. True.
  5. saving the planet
  6. unusual
  7. she had earned a scholarship for her academic excellence in Kenya
  8. True

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