Karura Conservationist Who Spoke to King Charles III in Kikuyu Speaks Out

November 2, 2023

An 85-year-old Environmental Advocate is among the Kenyan individuals who had the rare chance to meet King Charles III while visiting a market stall in Karura Forest, Nairobi.

During her interaction with the King, Lillian Wanjiru Njehu communicated in the Kikuyu language despite being conversant with the Queen’s language.

The King was speaking with community members who derive benefits from Karura Forest.

While explaining why she conversed with King Charles III in the Kikuyu language, Mrs Wanjiru Njehu said she was trying to convey a powerful message: that the act of planting trees and engaging in environmental conservation transcends linguistic barriers.

Wajiru, one of the founders of the Greenbelt Movement, explained that grassroots women, irrespective of their spoken language, share a common love and commitment to environmental preservation.

“I spoke Kikuyu to the King to show that grassroots women at the time didn’t plant trees because of the language they speak but because they loved to conserve the environment,” she said.

Wanjiru said she shared with the King that the late 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Maathai, had imparted to her the crucial message that the country would transform into a desert without the collective effort of tree planting.

“I told the King that we came together as grassroots women to plant trees,” she said as quoted by the Star.

Despite the presence of an interpreter, Njeru said she was delighted to amuse the King with her Kikuyu language, enjoying the moments of shared laughter.

“Hata yeye alichangamka,” she said.

King Charles III also had the honor of meeting Wangari Maathai’s daughter, Wanjira Mathai. Together they planted a tree to commemorate the late environmentalist.

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