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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – The Ambassador to Kenya was at MSU Monday for a tree planting ceremony to honor a Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The MSU Department of Music kicked off the event with a drum performance but the highlight of the event, a tree planting ceremony, was held in honor of his countrywoman, Wangari Maathai. She was the founder of the Green Belt Movement, a tree planting initiative to combat deforestation.

Maathai is best known for winning the Nobel Peace Prize but she was also the author of “Unbowed”, this year’s Maroon Edition reading for 1st year students.

“She had all odds against her because she was a woman and living in Africa at the time. I just think the fact that she had all these opposing forces but yet she still wanted to make a difference. She was only one person and she inspired so many other people to do the same,” says Catherine Feng, the 1st place essay contest winner for the Maroon Edition.

This is the 2nd time Ambassador Elkanah Odembo has visited MSU this school year. Odembo believes that Kenya and the United States share common interests.

“The fight against terrorism around the world, the fight against piracy on the Indian Ocean. All these require the international community to work together but very importantly, the United stated needs a good, strong ally in the region to work with and be a part of the US’ global interests,” says Odemo.

Kenya held its national election March 3rd for the 1st time since 2007. Officials reported a bloody start on voting day, with at least 19 people killed on Kenya’s coast by separatists wielding guns and machetes. The Ambassador says Kenyans will press on towards democracy and he believes the United States will play a pivotal role.

“I think Kenya is that ally, Kenya is also a very important trading ally for the United States and of course, you have a President in the White House who has a very strong history and connection with Kenya and it’s an honor and a privilege to be serving as Kenya’s Ambassador at a time when President Obama is the President of the United States,” says Odemo.

Wangari Maathai was the 1st African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and died in 2011 at the age of 71.

March 3rd has also been designated as “Wangari Maathai Day” througout the African continent.

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