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First African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize dies

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Summary of story from BBC News, September 26, 2011

Kenya’s Wangari Maathai, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, has died after a long and bravely fought battle with cancer.

She was a professor of veterinary anatomy who rose to international fame for campaigns against government-backed forest clearances in Kenya in the late 1980s-90s.

Under the former government of President Daniel Arap Moi, she was arrested several times, and vilified.

In 2008, Maathai was tear-gassed during a protest against the Kenyan president’s plan to increase the number of ministers in the cabinet.

The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, said she was saddened by the news.

“Africa, particularly African women, have lost a champion, a leader, an activist. We’re going to miss her. We’re going to miss the work she’s been doing all these years on the environment, working for women’s rights and women’s participation,” she said.

In her speech accepting the Nobel prize, Maathai had said she hoped her own success would spur other women on to a more active role in the community.

Maathai was the first African woman to be given the award and received it for promoting conservation, women’s rights and transparent government.

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