Interview with Njeri Kabeberi, Kenyan Climate Change Activist

It was on Feb. 28, 1992 when Njeri Kabeberi got her first taste of grassroots activism. Kenya was in a state of brutal political repression and terror under then-president Daniel arap Moi, whose government ruthlessly interrogated, detained and tortured opponents.

She was working for an insurance agency at the time, but was asked by Kenya’s most famous female political and environmental activist, Wangari Maathai, to help out with a hunger strike for the elderly mothers of political prisoners.

She was asked to file a petition to Kenya's attorney general, and to escort the elderly ladies to and from the protest.

At the time, Kabeberi had a young son and aimed to be home later that evening. She ended up staying an entire year, through beatings, tear gas and heated negotiations, until the last political prisoner was released on Jan. 19, 1993.

“I could never go back to my work after that; I was a changed human being,” Kabeberi said in a National Observer interview. “It made me understand the power of women… So for me, a woman can never fail.”

Heinrich Böll Stiftung East & Horn of Africa


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