Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

Alan Dater, Lisa Merton

Planting trees does not make you immediately think of the Nobel Prize for Peace. Yet Wangari Maathai, born in the Kenyan countryside, managed to win the prize in 2004 by doing just that. The inspiring documentary Taking Root portrays Maathai’s long and difficult struggle for environmental and human rights in her country.
Maathai studied in the United States in the sixties before returning to Kenya to tackle the problems faced by the women she grew up with. They complained about the water shortage, their underfed children and the increasing distances they had to walk for firewood. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement and mobilized the countryside women to plant trees. By doing this, women brought a stop to centuries of deforestation and started to create new sources of food and income for local communities. Above all, the organization created a new self-consciousness among the women, who not only took on the fight against deforestation, but also against poverty and political repression. The actions of Maathai contributed to the end of the 24-year dictatorship in Kenya.


Alan Dater, Lisa Merton
Alan Dater, Lisa Merton
Country of production
United States
81 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
Marlboro Productions
World Sales
Marlboro Productions