A Dark Green Religious Analysis of the Life and Work of Wangari Maathai (1940 - 2011)

  • Hannelie Louisa Johanna du Toit University of Johannesburg


Dark Green Religion (DGR), is an umbrella term formulated by Bron Taylor, to describe nature revering movements that do not fit into the category of organized religion. These movements use religious-like emotions to express their convictions and display a sincere commitment towards the environment. A central focus of DGR is a deep-felt kinship with all living organisms on Earth (arising from a Darwinian understanding that all forms of life have developed from a common ancestor), accompanied by feelings of humility coupled with a critical view of human moral superiority. This article presents a Dark Green Religious analysis of the life and work of Wangari Maathai (1940-2011). She was the first woman in East Africa to receive a doctorate, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work with the Green Belt Movement (GBM). In the DGR analysis, it is illustrated that the principles of belonging, interconnectedness and sacredness are revealed through Maathai’s written legacy. Evidence is also presented that she could be viewed as an example of Naturalistic Gaianism, one of the four types of DGR. In conclusion, a link between ecofeminism and DGR is proposed by highlighting the shared concepts between the two phenomena.

Author Biography

Hannelie Louisa Johanna du Toit, University of Johannesburg
Louisa Johanna (Hannelie) du Toit is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religion Studies at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Her background is in biochemistry and food science and she is interested in the interface between religion and science, and the discipline of eco-theology. Her research is focused on the worsening global environmental crisis and the response of society, especially religious society, in addressing it.