16 April 2006

Kenya: Plant Trees Over Easter, Maathai Tells Christians

Nairobi — Nobel Peace Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai yesterday urged Christians to plant trees during Easter.

Maathai said religious leaders should urge their followers to plant trees to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Maathai, in an interview with The Sunday Standard, said Christ was crucified on a tree (cross) and salvation also came through the cross.

"I will continue campaigning for Christians to plant trees especially during Easter as a way of demonstrating our gratitude to our Saviour who accepted to die on the cross," said Maathai.

Maathai said every Easter, she has been planting several indigenous trees as a gift to mother nature.

The Tetu MP said the current fights and conflicts that Kenya and the rest world were experiencing were as a result of scramble for scarce resources.

Maathai said unless the situation is rectified people will continue to die of hunger.

She called on Kenyans to stop fighting each other and to live in harmony.

The MP said she would continue advocating for people to embrace the culture of planting trees.

Maathai cited the current conflicts over scarce resources like water and pasture due to deforestation, which she added was to blame for climatic changes. "Unless we protect our natural surroundings, especially forests which act as water catchment areas, we are going to suffer droughts and famine," said Maathai.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth of Kisumu Diocese yesterday led hundreds of Catholics in a procession, re-enacting Jesus' march towards crucifixion.

At the Kibuye Cathedral, faithful started trooping in as early as 6 am for the march.

On the Marsabit plane crash, the archbishop asked Kenyans to pray for peace and prosperity.

He said these were trying times for Kenyans but they should seek God's guidance and not fall by the wayside.

Okoth said Christians should not feel that Easter was jinxed after the Marsabit plane crash that left 14 people dead.

He said this was a preparation for Christians to share in the death of Jesus Christ.

The ceremony started with recitation of the rosary.

During the procession, within the church, the faithful carried a cross similar to the one on which Christ was crucified.

At 3 pm when Jesus is said to have died, they gathered in the church to pray.

Asked why Kenyan Catholics do not volunteer to be crucified like Filipinos, Father Okok said this was acting, adding that some parishes dramatised the crucifixion of Jesus, but no lives were lost.

Easter is celebrated after 40 days of fasting beginning on Ash Wednesday.

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