Time Joe Biden Defied Security Orders to Listen to Kenyan Activist

  • Photo collage between US President Joe Biden and his convoy
    Photo collage between US President Joe Biden and his convoy.
    File
  • Climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti has disclosed how US President Joe Biden defied orders from his security team to listen to her.

    Wathuti recalled that Biden disregarded a signal from his security detail to leave during the UN climate change conference in Glasgow in November 2021. Instead, the president decided to cancel his busy schedule to listen to her.

    The 27-year-old added that after her speech, President Biden was moved.

     "I saw Biden’s security team trying to signal to the president that it was time to leave but he waved them off. He wanted to listen. Perhaps I had something he really needed to hear,"  she told the Guardian.

    Elizabeth Wathuti speaking during a United Nations climate conference in November 2021.
    Elizabeth Wathuti speaking during a United Nations climate conference in November 2021.
    The World Economic Forum

    In her speech, she detailed how starvation had affected over two million Kenyans. She highlighted the issue of water scarcity, and other related calamities affecting Kenyans.

    ''I need to tell you what is happening in my country, right now as we sit comfortably here in this conference centre in Glasgow, over two million of my fellow Kenyans are facing climate-related starvation. In this past year, both of our rainy seasons have failed, and scientists have said that it might be another 12 months before the waters return again; meanwhile, our rivers are running dry, our harvest is failing, our storehouses stand empty, and our animals and people are dying. 

    ''The children cannot live on words and empty promises. Let us feel it in our hearts and then act," she stated during a meeting that other world leaders attended, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President Uhuru Kenyatta and marathoner Eliud Kipchoge.

    Since delivering that speech that caught the attention of Biden, her diary has been packed. Wathuti has met other environmentalists such as Greta Thunbergand the Dalai Lama.

    She began her activism while in elementary school. The environmentalist drew her inspiration from Nobel laureate recipient Prof Wangari Maathai.

    Following in the late Wangari's footsteps, Wathuti, through her Green Generation Initiative,  has planted over 30,000 tree seedlings and trained 20,000 students in the country.

    In 2016, the climate activist became the fourth recipient of the Wangari Maathai scholarship. The knowledge she gathered helped Wathuti to establish food trees in schools and even helped her carry environmental training in learning institutions.

    Despite her achievements, Wathuti expressed her fears that the world bureaucracy would dent her efforts in addressing climate activism.

    "Policymakers are more than hummingbirds. The forest is on fire and they have bigger trunks. Mere pledges and empty promises won’t do," she insisted.

    File photo of climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti holding a seedling.
    File photo of climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti holding a seedling.
    File

     

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