En-route to Marsabit

A dawning of a new day
A dawning of a new day

One Morning, three months ago, Life woke me up to another odyssey. Marsabit was the destination under question. Let me share excitement; visualize your big dream. See yourself waking up from your bed one morning and there it is. Then go through the moments of pinching yourself and asking whether this is real or someone is playing a really bad joke on you. Here you are wondering whether someone has fabricated a very bad trick to make you believe. I have often wondered what it would be like to live and work among pure pastoral communities and to critically question their way of life, being very different from mine. Despite working among the Maasai and Samburu of Kenya, something tickled me about the unknown.

The transitions that define my life mould all kinds of mental pictures of what really describes a sustainable world, region, country, location, community or person. Sustainability has been largely defined and practiced with environmentalism painting the backdrop, because modern lifestyles are invariably fuelled by environmental resources.

My maiden trip to Marsabit was a trip characterised by intrigue, learning, anticipation and comedy, and was the hallmark of defining hardship.

Isiolo, which is approximately mid-way between Nairobi and Marsabit is fairly easy to get to but the route beyond Isiolo is a totally different ball game. I took the Liban bus from Isiolo, which plies the route on a daily basis. In addition to passengers, the bus is usually packed with goods including the daily bread for the Marsabit people as well as other grocery. This bus has not shocks, and I will stand by my word. It must be a special edition which totally ignored this feature. My back was breaking by the time we got to Marsabit. That aside…

Anxiety led me to the bus station at 7pm since the recorded departure time was 8pm. The bus arrives shortly before 8 and hippie me finds myself in my seat, no. 37. Now, visualize this, I am comfortably sat, exhausted from the first half of the trip and oblivious of any other eventuality, just waiting to make my way. So what happens next you don’t say…! Someone starts sweeping the bus which sends billows of dust all over the place. In spite of boasting intact lungs, I could no longer sufficiently separate oxygen from the array of pungent particles lingering in the air.

As if it was good riddance, they start welding up inside the bus to repair damaged seats. Sparks keep flying inside the bus for a good half an hour releasing toxic blue smoke that slowly weaves its way through the bus, blending into the fabric of cloths and hiding behind the cracks to later constitute the aromatic concoction for the travellers that day. It’s now, 9pm, an hour since we were to leave and yes; we are still at the bus station, I am sat on the ground watching young men hastily hoisting a ton load of goods to the roof rack, ingesting khat and exhaling vile breath, language and all sorts of sexual innuendo, to disguise their exhaustion from exertion.

10pm: This is not working. I step back into the bus, dust my seat and by then, a mama with her 2 years or so baby, and luggage are occupying most of the 3 seater. Hmmm!! I make myself comfortable in the only remaining slot of the seat but I am acutely aware that there may be someone else to host by our side. As if to ascertain my thoughts, a young man squinting at his ticket and in turn at the seat numbers walks up and without fretting points at me as if to suggest I make space. Ok, this is the fun part, when I ask the mama to move up, she takes the child off the chair but keeps her luggage sat. This bag is way too big for a handbag anyway. Ha! I wonder, what would be better on the seat, the baby or the bag? By the way, note that we sat with the bag all the way! Lucky I was sat in the middle. The poor young man had to endure the trip, I think.

We depart around 10.30pm and I tell you, there is not a more gruesome journey I have had to endure. My piece of bad luck can be attributed to the fact that I had to take a back seat and sit squeezed, occasioned by ‘seated’ luggage. Can’t complain. That’s culture. Now, allow me to curse the hawker who generously loaded the passengers with boiled eggs at the beginning of the journey because the rest of the journey was an aromatic blend of body odor,  oriental perfume, phat and welding smoke that made my head dizzy while the child incessantly cried for most of the journey. I must have passed out from the rich exotic oriental flavors that spiced up the air to escape the realities. All that met my ears was the distant laboring of the engine as the bus made its way to Marsabit.

6 am and this is me arriving in Marsabit. The all night journey roughed up every muscle in my body, leaving my body half massaged and in need of a rest. Cold, misty, dusty… damn combination but better than the bus environment. This is my first day in Marsabit, and I will be here for a while. I check into a hotel and take the long nap to recompense the stolen sleep!

Mt. Kulal

Road Trip to Dar es Salaam from Nairobi

Dar es Salaam is ‘only’ 921 km from Nairobi,14hrs on the bus. Excited? It all about how you like your cup of coffee. Well let’s just say that I thrived while my wife barely survived. I love road trips! I get to explore every inch of the landscape and let my senses absorb the beauty and wonder of creation, while concurrently engaging with questions that have no immediate answers like “How do the inhabitants feel about living in such a wonderful place? What challenges do they face? What economic activities excite them the most?” etc. As you can see, they are hardly trivial.

So apart from 14 hrs, to travel to Dar you need to book yourself a bus, generally available from Nairobi including Dar Express that we used, have your yellow fever shots taken 10 days before travel, you passport or border pass which you can get at Nyayo House next to the Kenya Postal HQ.

Our Transport to Dar

The Journey to Dar takes you through almost 270 degrees view of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. On a clear day, you will enjoy the different shots of the mountain. The scenery between Nairobi and Namanga towards Arusha and onward to Moshi is predominantly grassland occupied mainly by the Maasai pastoralists. The view across the border is an expansive acacia-grassland plateau broken by Mount Meru. Being only the 10 tallest mountain in Africa, it is a host to birdlife, wildlife and flora within the forest. It lies within Arusha National Park. You can generally spot odd wildlife including gazelles and zebras but it is great for birdlife.

The road between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam is a walk in the park without a four wheeler. Beyond Moshi, the road winds down and you move towards the West Usambara Mountains. The microclimate here is distinctly different as you drive through the forested areas and see the basking view of the usambara mountain ranges. They are a particularly breathtaking view in the evening sun, bringing out the uniqueness of its chasms from the shadows. Also, there is disparately large scale farming of sisal, citrus fruits, mangos, maize, etc. in comparison to the other regions you will traverse. The clearance of land for large scale farming are traced back to the colonial era where inhabitants were forcibly removed from this land to pave way for commercial timbering and market farming. Of course this resulted in soil erosion and loss of biodiversity, but you can clearly see how these issues are being redressed through agroforestry and reafforestation, which is evident as you drive along.

Dar is a modern day town, more like any metropolitan city and therefore the days within town can be long and ardous. Public transport is cheap, TzShs 300 per trip, but you have to wait for hours at a time to get a seat. Their three main destinations in town are the Main post office, the dock side and Kariokor. Taxi is a better way to get around but you may want to budget adequately for that as it would cost you about TzShs 20,000 – 40,000 (Ksh 1000 – 2000) per trip. A visit to Zanzibar is definitely worth it and it needs a day of its own where you can leave at 7am in the morning and return to the mainland by 4pm.

Tanzanian cuisine is excellent, always with the touch of a traditional flavour, either seasoned in coconut milk or with ghee and pepper sauce. Bananas seems to be a tradition of their meals but its not strange that their meals are comparable to Kenyan cuisines, especially coastal flavours. Eating out is excellent and depending on the choice of joint, it can be well worth every dime.

Well, to make most of the trip to Dar es Salaam, it would be better to have your own transport as this would allow you to break down the journey into manageable distances, and enjoy each destination. A straight road trip is pretty tough even for the best of us. However, if you are going down on business, you do not want to miss out so look out!!

The Long Rains in Kenya

Wailing, willowing, and remorselessness walloping the ground with all that tries to stand between it and the clouds. The long-rains have a way of making sure you remember. Peeking outside the window; all gone; the blue skies and the stroke of the golden brush that once left the skies delightfully white. All gone; the scathing sun by day and the mosquito filled house by night. All these have left puffy low hanging horizons that limit vision, and the sound of rain pattering with a deafening monotony.

Upstream, not too far away from the reach of my imagination, a farmer is frantically scratching the ground, digging-manuring-planting-stepping; digging-manuring-planting-stepping; his tum tum rhythm is meshing in with the sound of an African rhumba drum pounding beyond the hills, depicting a celebration of the rains and the return of the rain-god, as the farmers desperately hope that fertility will prevail filling the land with maize and sorghum, wheat and millet, arrowroots and sweet potatoes.

My eye catches the silhouette of a woman, dejectedly and desperately dashing through the pools of side street waters, secretly cursing why it has chosen to rain at this hour. She is on her way to catch the bus home but before that, she spends her time thinking of what they will eat, generally interrupted by the step-hop-jump actions through the street. In her mind, she sees the whole family ganged around the television watching seven o’clock news, oblivious of what it takes to get dinner on the table. The dark clouds of early evening and the cold spatters of rain augment her awry feelings with every stride.

Further midstream, and little to her knowledge, her house has been swept away by the streams of rain that took a route through her living room, sweeping away with it a young life and the old dirt of the ghetto. The rented tin apartment, that is all that she and her husband could afford. Now it’s all gone and she knows it not.

Downstream, the anticipation of rains moved the masses away from the river plains. Consequences are the norm within this society, floating houses, loss of life and property, rooftop rescue parties, etc. They are joined at the hip with the red part of the cross.

Long-rains are a design of the May-day, but who is to blame? God for reigning too hard, the government for poor planning, the ghetto people for devising their fate, or is it just an act of nature? Too many questions too few answers?

June soon comes and minds have forgotten. Mourning is over, people are back to the plains, dust piles up on the side streets, the farmer is anticipating a bumper harvest, desperation still remains, of how these days are going to turn out. I pull shut my window and draw the curtains. Scathing hot sun and mosquitoes. The rains are gone till November.

 

 

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.”