August 27th, 2009


Beyond the Rift

I grew up in the Rift Valley, and on either side there were ridges. On all sides I could see the limit. I believed that was the whole world. I believed that the ridges—where the sky or, quite often, the clouds would reach the mountains—were where the world ended.

I remember asking my mother, "Why doesn't the sky come down, because everything else comes down, but not the sky?"

My mother told me, "Up on the ridges are big, big buffaloes, and these buffaloes have big horns and these are the horns that hold up the sky." For a long time, that's what I believed.

Then one day we set out on a journey, the longest of my life. For the first time I came to the ridge, and I discovered there was something beyond. I was so happy to know that the whole world was not in that valley; that there was another world.

That little journey reminds me of the many, many journeys I have made since. Before you go, you think that the world is just here, and then you go to the ridge and you see there is another world. There are so many ridges in life, and if you are willing to go to the top of the ridge, you will see another world beyond. But if you don't go—if you don't take the risk—if you only stay where you're safe, then of course you never see past the ridge.

      — Wangari Maathai, Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet