According to Google, a light bulb is a glass bulb inserted into a lamp or a socket in a ceiling, which provides light by passing an electric current through a filament or a pocket of inert gas.

The keywords from the sentence are provides light.Light bulbs although small, have the capacity to supply light to a wide range. The streaks light slice through darkness illuminating rooms and bringing the gloom back to life. Just like bulbs, the earth has been fortunate enough to witness a number of people who shone light into peoples lives. People who not only gave what they had but also pieces of themselves whenever needed. Individuals who not only came and saw but in every right they conquered. Individuals who are praised to date because of their selfless efforts to humanity decades ago.

Professor Wangari Maathai was one such individual. A Nobel laureate by every right, the professor shone her light on the importance of conserving the environment. She reiterated over and over again the importance of planting trees and ensuring that our water catchment areas as a country are thoroughly protected. Prof. Wangari as she was commonly referred to, achieved a number of firsts, she was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, Professor Maathai became chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor in 1976 and 1977 respectively. In both cases, she was the first woman to attain those positions in the region. She was also the first African woman and environmentalist to win the Nobel peace prize for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”.

In 1976 while she was serving in the National Council of Women, Professor Maathai introduced the idea of community-based tree planting. This was a means in which she ensured that trees were not only planted but women and youth were empowered in the same breath. She continued and grew this idea into a broad organisation. The Green Belt Movement (GBM)which serves as an umbrella that pushed for environmental conservation a cause that spoke to her heart. The GBMs main focus was poverty reduction through tree planting. As a learned woman in the 70s Professor Wangari went through it all. In 1989 she fought for Uhuru Park which at the time had plans underway to convert it into a residential complex known as Times Media Complex. This would not sit well with the Nobel laureate waged a highly letter-writing campaign that yielded fruit, the plan was shoved aside and Uhuru park stands to date.

Unbowed, “a large green swath … [with] lawns, paths, boating lake, and stands of trees” the park provides millions of people in Nairobi with a natural environment for recreation, gatherings, quiet walks, or simply a breath of fresh air”.~Professor Wangari Maathai

Professor Wangari Maathai might have lost her battle to ovarian cancer but the legacy she built lives on. The lives she touched in one way or the other keep her stories and fight alive. The trees she orchestrated their planting are a living testimony of a woman who fought tirelessly against a greedy dictatorial government to safeguard a future for generations to come.

Wangari Maathai was a true embodiment of a light bulb.