Category: Environmental Sustainability

Slavery, War and the Environment

I’d never like to be politician, leave alone get involved in politics but the other day I found myself thinking; ‘How would life have been for me if I was born during the age of slave trade?’ Given my stature and demeanor, I would have probably survived any onslaught for many reasons. First I stand 5’7″ tall which MC Hammer’s calls “shoulder-height” (listen to his rap “can’t touch this”). This means that the length of my bones are optimal for excellent muscle development, in short translated to mean that I am of the stronger variety :-). Secondly, I have uncanny survival instincts translated to mean that I am not planning to DIE anytime soon! Not from a big mouth anyway! I would silently obey the shackles to my feet and tread diligently the straight and narrow that lead to eternal slavery.

These two traits alone would surely ensure that I make it past the “selection process” if you like, and assuming that I make it across the seas without dying from seasickness, malaria or plague, I would make an excellent slave, revered by his peers as the epitome of loyalty and hard work. In fact, I think many “masters” would scramble for me (swishing my black hair). I will probably not waste the chance of getting married to Potiphar’s wife or Lupita for that matter, if the Bible stories and movies are anything to go by.

I will live happily every after….. or not, based a set of choices I make and how well these choices resonate with my earthly masters. Well, to be quite honest, slave-life must have been a bit tougher,and not a simplistic as I want to make it. I unravel it as though it was in the 21st century of high-speed internet, twitter and selfies tagged #slavetings but truthfully, it is nothing to laugh about.

War on the other hand is as old as human society. I like it when people put it beyond themselves to be savage. War begins in one’s mind with a conflict of self, the idea that you have two opposing views at war within yourself. In the Bible Paul annotates by saying that “Those things that I wish to do, I do not, but those things that I wish not to do, that, I do”. War can escalate to “words” which we may be more familiar with where two or more people have a brief or not-so-brief vehement exchange.

Pregnancy is not a male thing but let’s not go to war about it, explore the world, your country – Makagutu, Eric, De Yuppie, Pechee & other cyclist

Cyclists particularly have a knack for this exemplary behavior where we’ll shout at the top of our voices, profanity or otherwise, to drive some sense into anybody who may be flouting the rules of the shared spaces. You can see this in action with a number of activists as well, whether local and global, agitating for ideological, political, environmental, social or even economical revolution.

Then, we have ideological war as we understand it today. Countries, states, regions, religions, etc. pitted against each other in bloody battles that never seem to end. Heavy machinery is employed.

Prior to the agrarian revolution wars accounted for the industry of swords, chariots, bows and arrows, etc. But by the time we got to the Vietnam, the sophistication of guns, missiles, tanks, bombs, land mines, jets, chemicals or anything that could inflict death, DECISIVELY, took over. The prime objective? Expunging societies, nations, people, ideologies and cultures. War in itself allocates more power to the powerful and extirpates the weak… a corroboration of “survival of the fittest” theory. Only that this time it’s instigated.

This is where in line with Mordecai Ogada’s famed words “calling class to order”, comes in. One of the greatest wars we continue to face in world today, certainly in Africa, is depravity of mind. Our minds have been so distilled by western way of life, that we no longer believe in our own ideals, we don’t even KNOW our own ideals. For instance, look at francophone countries under the puppet strings of France who provides them with a currency (CFA) that they manage through their central bank in terms of stabalizing the region. They flock their markets with French products and even endorse presidents in the name of LOVE. What’s that? Then again if you come from a country that was colonized, read your name again and tell me where your cultural identity lies. In a foreign name? For heaven’s sake them missionaries “took away” our God almighty in the name of idol worship!!!

What this means is that we no longer enjoy the independence of knowing who we are, being who we are and even capable of living authentic lives. We have our lives strung around western-generated goals that are lofty, unattainable in ways and then we have to depend on their “expertise” to reach them whether through education, donor aid, training and affirmation. Yet, we have always had the answers. Who’s agenda are we running then?

Some conservationists of our time that I know who are thinking different (right to left: Salehe from TZ; Karim – Kenya; Mercy – Kenya; Louisa – Kenya; Vincent – Kenya, Josef Garvi – Niger, Sareme – Ethiopia; Razingrim – Burkina Faso;

Conservation in Africa is broadly based on western ideology of building agrarian societies, which catapulted colonizers to build empires beyond their boundaries by “discovering” Africa. Africa gained but also blatantly suffered a good deal from civilization as nature, cultures, society and people were pushed aside for their lack of knowledge “vegetation climax” theories and “optimal stocking rates” have been asserted in the management of natural resources.

While scientific advances have an important role to play in studying socio-ecological societies, they are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to the management of natural resources in our society today. Local people have the mind and knowledge to live rewarding lives within their societies. They know how to coerce the land to produce food and fodder, store water in natural crevices which they retrieve during the drought, they know which roots to eat when there are no leaves on a tree, and even know where to go until the drought season blows over.

We are mentally enslaved if we think that our educated arrogance can serve the local cows with eternal fodder through our systems of mathematical antagonism. We are rude to think that western ways are better than our eastern and southern experience. We start bloody battles by pitting community against another, neighbor against neighbor by empowering the powerful to rule over the poor with endless greed. We totally ignore the peril of the people and put ourselves before others. More than anything, we totally ignore the fact that our actions will severely persist on our environment now, and for almost always.

Slavery and war have one thing in common, they steal minds of society either through displacement or removal. They also tend to assert one man’s ideology over another. “My way or the highway” kind-of-thinking! Don’t let them give you a number and take away your name.

There is no solace in living the life of another man.

This is your world, be the change!!

When I Die…may it not be of Viagra

Let me just start by saying that when I die, may it not be from A Viagra overdose man! It’s most embarrassing to say the least.

COVID19 times be difficult times man. You gotta be impressive and keep your performance STELLAR in every aspect yet you still have to deal with curfews, social distancing and delayed queues. So imagine, you’re stuck up on a queue, at a pharmacy (which is an essential service) and you are far behind the queue trying to get the antidote for the double dose of Viagra you took in the hopes of acing it. Two at the price of one? You obviously picked up the wrong item. You are obviously content with the social distancing guidelines for they work to your advantage while trying to keep your sweaty, vein-riddled, pain face straight. You are not nearly resentful enough of those people queuing for Laxatives and painkillers. You spot a number of idle teenagers who are there “just-because”.

There is no decency in death. That form of lifelessness one takes as you cease to breath, cold icy flesh replacing warm congenial senses, glazy and many-a-time deformed looks defining a thousand expressions that once made the face, nothing matters, pauper and prince are at par, the last dying wish you may imagine would be to live one more day: but that ends at that A WISH! Death is not an outcome that any of us wish for but when it shows face, you have to toe-the-line and follow the men in white across the blue divide, where destiny awaits.

Well, when this happens to me? I would like to urge you who is left behind, who read this blog, who claims to be family, friend, whoever you be, waste no time, CREMATE MY REMAINS. In 24 hours is good timing but it you don’t make that cut, 48 hours, do it! Dust to dust and what better way to incorporate it through ashes? Find me the shortest way to the soil and don’t make drama on my name. Play quiet or loud music if you must. Drink and drown your sorrows, at your own expense. Talk about me – good and bad – but please, don’t make drama!! I know I am onto a livid topic but hang on with me for a moment as I tell you why.

I come from a melodramatic society when it come to celebrations including birth, marriage and death. Burial in my context and experience is a social, environmental and economically upheaval. It has a lot of misgiving and lacks objectivity in many ways. Primarily, it is a feast ill-prepared and ill-targeted, resources consumed in copious quantities (normally unprecedented), glamour as people dress up the dead in divinity – a display that would shock a corpse to life if they knew. Then people start taking the piss, often in sarcastic undertones directed to your loved ones who are still living. Many times this happens on the backdrop of a-people living with perpetual hunger, indecency, homelessness and parochial piety that incessantly chip away on the impetuous strokes of paint they use to patch their lives. Nobody helps, nobody responds, nobody to cares – then you die.

You know Viagra seldom kills but it has its own history of harvest. Roughly 500 men died of using Viagra in the first year of use. So. take my advice, if you find yourself stuck behind a COVID19 queue and you’ve taken a double dose of Viagra and in need of an antidote, make a bee-line for the pharmacist’s counter. Besides being dilated in prominent area, people may only presume that you have COVID19 anyway because you will be perspirating heavily, hyperventilating, vomiting and perhaps looking weak, which are the exact symptoms of the pandemic. No questions asked. Please do not die because if you do, we’ll have to make up all sorts of stories about why you are dead and dilated inside your trousers. And that’s NO GOOD!

But, we’ll show up one day of your DEATH, to cement some solidarity by sinking you far below the surface as if you were a seed hoping to grow. We’ll all arrive in style and take turns to “pay last respects” even though we never respected you in the first place.

When I die, keep the casket CLOSED. I would rather everybody remembers me as a memory of who I was, what I stood for, OR not rather than my lifeless body. Don’t forget me too fast though, otherwise I may have to visit you in dreams.

Open casket funerals are anyway the reserve of those who die from Viagra overdose, for forthright reasons. Unless you reshape the casket, which would look suspect, you also end up with an open casket burial, if you don’t qualify for closed-partially. Get ahead of the queue!!

Trapped in the Glass – How development alters animal behavior

Now, if you are crying out that life is not fair, think again. Fairness in the animal world goes somethings like this, first you are either born to a predator family or prey family. If you are born to a predator family, tough luck but… you could die before you are two days old if you are a lion, because your father will maul you!#heartaffairs

Well, so you made it to one year old and you have even started growing a mane (beard); you will have to fight for your space among many others, leave alone your brothers, to be the male to be reckoned with and perhaps progenerate. So this blissful life may last a year or two, if you actually make it to the apex of the family tree but what happens then? Younger, cooler, quicker peeps are born and they spoil it all for you. All over sudden, you are dropped like a hot cake and yes, your peers watch you as you rejoin them or if you happen to be a buffalo, they’ll even relegate you to a class lower than “them boys” and leave you groping in the wild with only a bad temper to show for your many year of hard work. Sort of like retiring from government but worse :-).

So you are born to a prey family… hmmm. Why were you ever born? You spend the rest of THE life on the run!! Then you are eaten, if you don’t die first.

On the contrary, being human is different and that is why we like to reiterate that we are not animals. We have rights for everything imaginable, and yes, I really mean UNIMAGINABLE. You see if you are born impaired, we have laws that will protect you, if you are weak there are laws that will not allow those stronger than you to take what you have, everyone is entitled to one spouse, at least by most constitutions in the world, you even have a right to be happy. Human rights have even made the wrong Okay.

I am sure things could be more fair but let me get to the point before this discussion gets political.

Have you ever noticed when animals look in the mirror, they develop a high sense of insecurity? They always wonder why their mirror mate is trying to trample their space. There is usually a revolt, momentary or one that could last hours, days, weeks, months or years as they struggle to dissipate their Unworthy opponent.

While taking a visit to the North of Kenya, Laikipia and Isiolo (by the way a nice country), two hornbills perched on my side mirror where we had parked the car and were furiously pecking away. They were obviously a male and female and they each took a turn at stabbing the mirror with their mighty horns. This of course is not the kind of thing I would call fun but yeah, there I was taking photos. This reminded me of an African black-headed oriole I made acquaintance with at one lodge in Isiolo called Rangeland Resort. The bird has been trapped in glass for the last couple of years, trying to displace it’s mirror image.

For those who know about the oriole, they are fairly shy birds that are found in woodland forest edges and are not necessarily garden birds. However for the number of nights I have spent at this resort, this individual religiously presents him/herself in early morning and mid-afternoon, constantly clawing away the nicely tinted windows that make the place look magnificent. It is not on purpose that this the owner built up the space but I can see how this has completely altered the behavior of this bird, perhaps forever. Woodland is fast disappearing in many of the rangelands around Kenya including the southern rangeland heading towards Magadi, the Northern rangelands out towards Isiolo, Marsabit, Turkana just but to name a few. Development is good. What we give up must also be carefully considered. We should avoid “trapping animals in glass”. Development that does not create room for wildlife is retrogressive. It will only diminish our environmental experience to animals in the glass aka zoos!

So conclusion of the matter… yes things may seem bleek for your today but life is not unfair, it’s just life. Secondly, ensure that you create space for wildlife including birds, insects, mammals and the unknown bug, when you put up your building, or tell someone to do so!! Till next time.

Tourism – Investing in energy and resource efficiency

Synthesis of the Green Economy Report (UNEP 2011)

The green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. (UNEP 2010) This report in its entirety presents case scenarios of how economic development and environmental deterioration can be decoupled in the main production sector.

Tourism in the green economy cites activities that can be sustained on the long-term within their social, cultural and environmental context. Is there a difference between the “green economy” “ecotourism” and “sustainable tourism”? Ecotourism focuses mainly on sustainability within the normative principles that include minimize negative environmental impacts and maximize benefits to local communities alongside providing quality experience and generating profits (Hetzer, 1965; Ceballos-Lascurain, 1987; Ross, 1999). Sustainable tourism on the other hand is not a form of tourism but rather a longevity principle that all tourism businesses can strive toward.

Despite generating 5% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), tourism attracts major challenges within its provisioning systems for energy, water and waste, leading to negative impacts on biodiversity, cultures and communities. Nonetheless, opportunities exist in sizing the growth of the industry (providing limits to expansion), changing consumer patterns (increasing the demand environmentally friendly tourism) and maximizing tourism’s potential for addressing local development and poverty reduction.

Sustainable tourism can create stronger linkages with the local economy by providing opportunities for biodiversity conservation through direct and indirect support. Due to its labour intensive nature, tourism provides support for micro enterprises providing employment for women and disadvantaged groups. Tourism products are a combination of activities and therefore support different industries including agriculture, handicrafts, transport, water, waste, etc. and involve local suppliers, allowing the local economy to benefit. The local economy also benefits indirectly from tourism infrastructure including roads, water supply, etc. which enhance their quality of life. Finally, tourism employs more young people and women than most other sectors, providing benefits and independence to women in supporting child development and alleviating poverty.

So is there a case for investing in green tourism? Travel and tourism investment in 2009 reached US$ 1, 398 billion, approximately 9.4% of global investment, providing significance to the case. Tourism directly and indirectly employs about 230 million people around the world and an added investment would provide increased employment in relative sectors. Tourism spending filters down to varying degrees depending on the structure of tourism thus increased investment would lead to a multiplier effect as long as leakages can be limited and interventions crafted to enhance the participation of local communities. Environmental conservation will be enhanced as businesses invest more in the protection of biodiversity and avoid the destruction of pristine (or near pristine) ecosystems. Culture including life, history, archaeology and religion is transitive and therefore as much as investing in sustainable tourism enhances culture, its preservation presents emergent challenges that communities have to address.

So, how would investments in green economy between 2011 and 2050 present as a trade-off to business as usual (BAU) in a simulated scenario? Tourism will be growing at a slower rate by 2.5% in comparison to BAU scenario and the GDP will exceed the BAU scenario by 7%. In short, despite increased tourism arrivals, there will be a considerable improvement in operational efficiency within the sector on key resources including water consumption, energy supply and demand, Carbon dioxide emissions and waste management.

What are some of the barriers and how can they be surpassed? Greening in the tourism sector is as complex as the endogenous heterogeneity and therefore requires the multi-stakeholder approach for its success. The private sector needs to provide sustainability incentives for tourism accommodations, tour operations and transport by linking tourism products with market positions. Governments and international development institutes can contribute by shaping policies that integrate sustainability into tourism development. Destination planning should advance green goals that are reinforced by laws and regulations and based on sound scientific methods and tools encompassing economic, environmental and social approaches. Fiscal policies including tax breaks, concessions and pricing can give clear signals to investors on the government’s intentions in the sector and provide drive. “Green financing” needs to be made accessible for investments in tourism in order to stimulate sustainable development within the industry. Barriers to financial access should be softened by engaging banks and financiers on green tourism investment as well as providing regional funds through international partners. Local investment can be strengthened by strengthening the tourism value chain back to SME investment, enhancing bank access to small businesses and individuals.

Works Cited

Ceballos-Lascurain, H. (1987). The future of ‘ecotourism’. Mexico Journal, 13–14.

Hetzer, W. (1965). Environment, tourism and culture.

Ross, S. &. (1999). Evaluating ecotourism: The case of North Sulawesi, Indonesia. ¹ourism Management.

United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). (2011). Towards a Green Economy: Pathway to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication. Nairobi: http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy.

Transitions Thresholds and the Green Economy

I am always too excited about new things; transformations, transitions, tranhumance and everything to do with ‘trans’s except of course trances. I believe that this condition is driven by an eagerness to see change, and of course I cannot ignore the fact that ‘present states’ can attenuate excitement, abate anxiety and multiply ineffectiveness on every count. However, what is the importance of transitiveness with reference to the GREEN ECONOMY?

One of the reason why environmental degradation remains so pervasive is because individuals, groups, peoples, societies and nations remain intransitive in the face of global environment change. Imagine with me for a moment taking a walk through unadulterated environment, trees are fully grown and bending over from their weight, green grass coupled with thistles and black jacks rather than  continuous dirt trails, fresh air, etc. The general activities around such places have an infinitely narrow range, small scale farming, less than permanent houses and probably controlled hunting; The population is 30 families. Fast forward ten years later with a population of 300 families, same space, same actions… and we expect the consequences to be the same? You must be kidding me!

The world has worked hard are unfreezing societies from their current profligate state with little success. First it was Rio de Janeiro with the Agenda 21 ‘Think globally act locally’ and now heading towards the Rio+20 on ‘green economy for sustainable development and poverty eradication’. If you are anything like me, pessimism will strike your head as we usher in a new decade of ideology. But let me give my two cents on this although nobody asked.

Green Economy in its definition is “that which results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”. (UNEP 2010) Let us draw out some meaning from this definition.

First, the green economy is an end or culmination as suggested by the word “RESULT” suggesting that a set of actions will provide a means to green economy. Secondly, the impact of these actions are on “HUMAN WELL-BEING AND  SOCIAL EQUITY”. Human well-being by definition is understood as a state of health, happiness and prosperity; a state where one is satisfied or without want, engulfing both subjective and objective functions. (Wikiprogress 2011). This suggests that this cannot be a unifying concept but  rather varies from person to place to culture, etc. Social equity is also another development related jargon that is defined as “equal opportunity in a health and safe environment”. Indicators of social equity can be a factor of education, employment, security, welfare, etc. Once again an objective and subjective concept. Third, significance is often referred to in statistics as “the probability of observing a value 95% of the time” while in social sciences and indeed the lay man’s language, something significant is one with a difference, observed or believed. The measures that therefore define environmental improvement vary dependent on the sector and on the desired outcome/state, which in this proposition is social as well as ecological.

The green economy rightly contextualizes social and ecological upheaval akin economic pursuits but inordinately implies that both pursuits can be extricated, without mentioning the modalities of diminishing greed, developing abstinence and nurturing prolific “LOCAL ECONOMIES”. Expanding global economies drive demand that increase production which inadvertently drives exploitation of natural resource that production is dependent on. Could the green economy therefore be shoe-honing its way into another trivial era and concerning us with trifles and lackadaisical action? As long as you are in the wrong wood, it doesn’t matter how fast you run.

As David Orr rightly puts it, the greatest impediment to ecological design is not technological or scientific, but rather human. Our greatest effort should therefore assert itself on how to alter the attitudes and mindset of men that have been indelibly charred through centuries of learned exploitative art and science. This is not just a smarter way of doing the same old things but however excelling in producing ecologically benign concepts that will reshape our way of life.

As we await the courage of a few, we will indulge with what we can do within the “GREEN ECONOMY”.

Terry in Tassia – by Terry Mutindi

“I’m torn-a big part to convey to you the amazing places that i visited, as words can never be enough but I hope they can be adequate. Driving into Tassia was a long, hot, bumpy, and dusty ride through Borana ranch and Ngare Ndare forest. The last part of the ride is a roller coaster up and down undulating hills up until I first saw Tassia emerge behind some acacias bushes, perched on a slab of granite at the edge of the Mokogodo escarpment. The lodge overlooks the Lekurruki Plain like some ancient mountain stronghold in a Kenyan version of Lord of the Rings. Despite my room having a tower with an incredible panaromic view of the entire conservancy, Tassia is far from a fortress. It’s incredibly unique and just absolutely bloody marvellous. Tassia is a place to escape, to unplug (there’s no TV, no internet and no cell reception); a place to feel like yourself again. It’s about as far removed from the life you’re used to as you can get, and the feeling of overwhelming peace grabs you almost the minute you arrive. With only six rooms, the lodge is small and the rooms themselves don’t insulate you from the outside. There’s something unbelievably appealing about having an unobstructed view from the bed, the lounger, and even the shower; the side of the room that faces the view is completely open, so you can walk out onto the rocks whenever you want and see the broad expanse of the conservancy.

The lodge has been running in its current incarnation since 2007, when Martin Wheeler and Antonia Hall went into partnership with the local Mokogodo Maasai. They operate in a friendly, understated way that makes you feel completely at home. It also helps that the food, prepared by Antonia and her expert assistants, is some of the best that I have ever had on “safari”, sunny side up. Not to forget to mention the house keeper called Jane, as I reflect on what it takes to have a neat, clean  room with beaded ropes tying the netting so thoughtfully.

The profits from the conservancy go into improving livelihoods in Lekurruki. Antonia’s work with the Mokogodo ladies and their “waste not want not” micro finance jewellery project is just one facet of this effort. This is not a place to come and see big game; not that you will not see any but just think of it as a destination in its own right. If you tire of being completely relaxed, the big draw is walking: you can go on bush walks with Martin (a phenomenal guide and birder in his own right) drive to the nearby Mokogodo forest, hike in the hills above the lodge and explore the ancestral hunting grounds of the Maasai with one of their descendants. As an added bonus, Charlie Wheeler (Martin’s Dad) runs “Walking Wild” – camel supported, fully catered, walking safaris which usually end at Tassia. It’s also an excellent place to stop along the way between some of the areas better known for big game in Kenya. For example, if you’re moving from the Masai Mara up to Samburu, Tassia is a great way to break up the trip.

If you ever wanted an up close and personal experience both with the bush and its human inhabitants (flora and fauna), this is the way to do it!”

 

 

VISITING THE KENYAN COAST – MY AUDIT EXPERIENCE by Yvone Kola

Never in my craziest dream have I ever stayed awake on my trip down to Mombasa, the centre of coastal tourism. This time, we started off at 2 O’clock in the afternoon and believe you me, for 10 hours I was wide awake. I thought I’d left behind the traffic jam in Nairobi but from Mariakani, we had to contend with snake like queues that made it difficult to get through the town but finally we made it through the hassle. Baobab Beach Resort is in Diani on the south coast and as such we had to board a ferry to get across. I could help but think of all the sad stories that indelibly furnish the annals of ferry history in Kenya of sinking ferries and lost lives. Chris told me that’s it’s going to be ok but that didn’t change my countenance one bit as I tightly gripped the seat to descend into the ferry’s belly. Meanwhile the electronic board flashing the pertinent quote “usikimbie kwenye ferry” (do not run while boarding the ferry) goes unheeded as scores of people mingle into the ferry like termites racing on an anthill. Without the sinking feeling, getting across on the ferry is a grand experience and it barely takes 10 minutes.

South coast was chilly this September with a cold evening breeze sweeping over the salty sea, some crystallizing salt on the skin, and showers of blessing. I wouldn’t be a very happy bikini traveller if I were on holiday. Luckily for me it is business. Diani is replete with every imaginable tourism joint from hotels to motels, restaurants, night clubs and supermarkets that defined the area. Baobab Beach Resort has great hospitality, treating their guests with the independence and attention of a hawk. The good morning song was a bit cheesy but the team did a great job at it. I planted a tree in honor of the late Nobel Laurete, Professor Wangari Maathai. This was my first time ever to plant a tree and will remain the one memorable thing I’ve done in 2011. Oh! And there’s the audit; that went great!

The road to Watamu is lined with smooth tarmac beside the Arabuko-Sokoke forest, one of the last solid blocks of coastal forest that once extended from Somali to Mozambique. It’s also home to the Golden rumped elephant shrew and the endemic sokoke scops owl. Turtle Bay Beach Club is located on Kenya’s beautiful coast line next to the Watamu Marine National Park. Renown among   the top five beaches in the world, the club is an excellent place to recline and have peace and quiet away from the hassle and bustle. All rooms are en-suite with fans and air conditionings, and the food is great! My first Turkey meal. I tucked it in squarely! Environmentally Turtle Bay is doing great. I loved the charcoal briquettes efforts and the fabrication of bags and other utilities from waste polythene bags! I must try that sometime.

Getting to voyager Beach Resort was tricky as we missed the road by a “whisker” (10 minutes) and as the saying goes “kuuliza sio ujinga” (to ask is not being stupid if you don’t know where you’re going). Men however almost always know where they are going. We finally got there and wow! Welcome aboard the good ship; Voyager! The hotel operates on a ship concept “The Voyager Cruise” and every morning it docks in a different destination and as such you get to enjoy the pleasantries and cuisines of the different places. You’ll be stuck eating marsh and peas if the ship gets a mechanical problem in say… England. They crew, were all sworn to “Sea language”. There’s not enough cursing though by the captain or the crew. Pity! The reception is thus called the Quayside, the Duty Manager the Officer on call, the Cashier the Purser, the General Manager the Captain. I loved their staff uniform just like the ship crew.

Voyager Ziwani works on a slightly different concept being that it’s a tented camp. It is next to natural water spring with amazing hippos and hungry crocodiles which make it hard for Egyptian goose to enjoy a simple splash in the calm water without making a fast food. Monkeys are probably among the most versatile creatures of the wild and here was no exception. They will open your zipped tent, unpack your snack and serve them with a bottle of soda and drive themselves for a game drive if they must. The chef’s handiwork was amazingly creative. The kind of art he does on your plate makes u want to admire the food for a while then eat it later but the sweet smell could not give me a chance to for I had to clear all of it and give him a thank you-hand shake for the good job. Evening dusk and time to sleep has come. All sorts of imaginations run through my mind… will I make a better meal for the hippo or for the crocodile tonight? Do snakes know how to zip down tents? My mind keeps vacillating from one fear to another and alas, I’m no more.

The view of Chyulu hills provided a greater experience for me; the three sister hills, the giraffes, the dik diks, the wildebeests, the kudus, the zebras, the elephants drinking in a nearby water hole at Kilaguni Serena; Ideal for a honeymoon by the way. Kilaguni Serena is only a few kilometers from the Mtito Andei Park gate. The lodge has female gate keeper with an astonishingly welcoming smile which I guess will not be forgotten as I could see my counterpart male friend endingly consumed with.

I have never thought of doing an audit until I landed in Ecotourism Kenya, auditing is one of the sweetest experience one can engage in. I loved it!

BY YVONNE KOLA

The Last Bow of a Heroine: A Tribute to Professor Wangari Maathai

Professor Wangari Maathai was known to me in the numbness of my socio-eccentricity, obliviously wandering in the depth of emotional ignorance. Why should a couple of women, scantily covered, be performing a ritualistic riot at the centre of Nairobi city, the Uhuru Park? She successfully deterred the then Moi government from unscrupulously developing the green space, that continues to be a refuge for people, a haven for trees and support for bird life. Her courage did not give way as she went on to be successful with powerfully traversed gems like Karura forest and Mau forest. Her success will always be measured beyond the recognition of a world’s Nobel Laureate.

Her famous recapitulation of “the humming bird” story, a tear evoking account of how a humming bird, one of the tiniest birds of the America’s, garners all her courage and resolve to save a burning forest by making as many trips to collect water from the river to the burning forest in order to put out the fire, while the elephant and other big mammals look on in despair, certain that they cannot put out the fire. I always wonder whether the humming bird could have possibly put out the fire by some oblique chance and if the other animals would have fairly attributed the effort to her. However, that’s beside the point, her point? No matter how small you are, do what you can do to save the environment.

Professor Wangari Maathai leaves behind a legacy of environmental advocacy at its best with marked result of the “Power of One”. Environmentalists and people around the world and in Kenya owe to the propulsion of her legacy, a humming bird attitude. A positive resolve to environmentalism. And what is that? To me, it is living responsibly and in harmony with the environment and nature, which intricately involves developing an understanding of the underlying interdependencies between, nature and man, and respecting the natural dynamics while working to restore those systems that seems to have fallen out of sync due to our greed and injustice.

A heroine worth talking about. I will remember… not to forget.

Going Green in Africa – The church nexus


“The Earth is the Lords and everything in it, the land and the fullness thereof” Ps 14.1 asserts a sense of ownership of the earth. Everything that was created belongs to God and he created it for his own pleasure including man. Man was created to have a relationship with God, with fellow man and with the rest of creation (Gen 4:8, Hosea 4:3). However, man’s rebellion through the fall has broken his relationships between God and creation. These broken relationships have led to alienation of man from God and from creation, resulting in a depraved relationship based on greed and selfish desires.

Most of the issues facing the Africa today can be traced back to environmental roots whether it be famine, wars, disease, poverty, land and forest degradation, pollution among others. While some of these issues are solvable through improved resource management and application of scientific solutions little has been done to address the social perceptions of people towards nature and environment. Most Christians’ perception of caring for creation is limited despite a wide reach of the church in Africa. Few churches teach the principles of caring for creation leave alone fully embracing it as part of their worship. Africa has the best chance of solving its own problems by finding its own solutions, and this also goes for solving its environmental challenges.

Land stewardship in Africa is not a new concept but a renaissance through the church will provide much hope and a great drive for action. As it is integrated into worship, it stems into practical action which can harness our faith, beliefs and resources, turning and audience to action for global environmental justice and shifting those attitudes that “so easily beset us”.

Information sharing forums and discussions focusing on the biblical mandate to care for creation should straddle over our mundane culture in order to find our roles as Christians, and to be part of God’s restoration by developing practical plans of local action in step with our faith. “You can only Love what you know, you can only know what you experience.”

NOT YET OUT OF THE WOODS: IS DEAD WOOD ALIVE?

Well, it is very often I get to enjoy the glows of the blazing fire out in the bush (not literally). Every “dull ember moment” summons another piece of wood to fuel the fire. I often wonder if there’s a brother of the wood left or whether it will be enough for my granddaughter 50 years to come.

Use of firewood in the tourism industry is a rampant practice that seldom considers the ecological consequences. Even in the abundance of information, an economic issue still lingers, as a lot of livelihoods depend on the extraction of wood and wood products.

Many developing world citizens derive more than 80% of energy from wood and wood products primarily as wood fuel and charcoal. Lodges and camps predominantly depend on dead wood collected from primary sources for campfires and in more “sophisticated” scenarios, the products are supplied from outside protected areas, in the name of dead wood. Dead wood production within forests is estimated at about 2-3% of the total biomass cover. Woodfuel demand is often compared to the annual forest biomass growth. In developing countries, the excess is assumed to be bridged by overcutting and depletion of forests. However, a significant amount of wood used by communities in developing countries is comes from shrubs growing outside of forested areas.

Dead wood has important ecological roles to play, which includes being a habitat for birds, mammals and plants, providing forage for insects and other arthropods and also playing a role in nutrient cycling. Ideally, woodfuel should stem from sustainable sources, either woodlots or sustainably extracted certified forests products. There is a dearth of such sources in Kenya and therefore once again innovation has to take center stage. Where dead wood is collected, there should be sufficient knowledge of the ecological impacts and conservative use should be adopted. Bio-briquettes fabricated from amalgamate sources including coffee husks, bagasse (sugarcane remains), char dust, etc. provide innovative alternatives, utilizing by-products that would otherwise go to waste. Of course emergent ethical issues arise as to whether you use char dust briquettes or charcoal, or even the sustainability of alternative energy supplies. All said and done, dead wood is not a sustainable source of wood fuel and tourism should abandon the practice and embrace alternative energy options.