16/04/2024

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An Enromentalist In The Village

4 min read
An Enromentalist In The Village

“We will get our fire woods and timber from the hills.” John had asked a group of women about what they will use now that the trees in their farms were getting extinct. John pointed to them that the hills they were showing were being reduced to bare land with scanty shrubs. But they had responded that they were going to get their firewood and timber from Maasai woodlands just beyond the hills. They said as a matter of fact, with blind confidence. They were unaware of the “dwindling resources debate and conferences” that has taken more space and time in national and international forumns. Though John realized that he was not winning, he told them anyway, that even beyond the hills, the trees were going to get finished. Still they were not moved. By the look in their faces, they were now bored to death! They found him strange.

John had visited this part of the country, Mulot Division in Narok District, Kenya. The area was once covered by green vegetation, made up of trees of varied sizes. Steady streams and rivers flow from the hills, joining Amalo River which is the main tributary of Mara River which flows through the world famous Maasai National Game Reserve. The farmers used to cultivate maize and would realize a bumper harvest. Maasai cows and bulls used to roam and graze in the lush and evergreen grasslands. Today, John had come to participate in the opening of permanent house that had been put up by a progressive son of the village, who was John’s cousin. John had visited his cousin several times to help during preparation for the big day. On one of the days, he had taken some trees and shrubs of onarmental value to plant in the compound of the new house. And he had also helped to do some landscaping. Then came the day to open the house. John came very early in the morning and found the trees and the shrubs he had plated had been mauled by the goats. Goats still roam free in this part of the world. On seeing what he had planted had been reduced to bare ground, John became frustrated and helpless. That is when he engaged the group of women and men in a conversation, asking them why people do not take care of their goats to prevent them from destroying trees. Their conversation had become long and tedious. John sighed with relief when his cousin told him he was going to fence the compound with wire-mesh and barbed wire, then plant trees and shrubs once again.

Johns encounter with the forks at Rongena village made him to realize the immense task of any community and national afforestation programmes. People in many developing countries have not accepted that they are facing a myriad of problems that have come up as a result of defforestation and environment degradation. Perhaps, they do not pause to think about it! It will take a long time and a lot of strategic planning, implementation, and sacrifice before nature lovers and environmentalist proves to the majority of the folks that they were not strange and green beings from the Mars, but human beings out to save nature, and humanity from self-destruction.

After he had engaged the men and women on preservation and planting of trees with no success, John thought of what trees and nature lovers might do. He considered all possibilities of helping to sensitize and mobilize communities to preserve and plant trees for utility purposes, environmental protection, and aesthetic values. One of the ideas to race through his mind was for tree and nature lovers to lead by example. They can dedicate an open space in their farms to plant trees, making sure that they fence properly. He recall that back at home in the neighboring Bomet District, he had put a lot of effort , spanning several years beautifying his compound and the farm that he shared with his parents and his siblings. He had planted ornamental trees and shrubs. And a good number of people within fifty kilometers square had tried to replicate what he had done with some success. So even someone in Rongena can do the same so that others may copy. People seem to be driven by curiosity and conclusions that there must be superior reasons for planting trees, especially ornamental ones.

Several weeks after John had gone back home from participating in opening of his cousin’s house, several of his cousins and friends had called to request for trees and shrubs like the one he had planted at the compound of the house that was opened. Perhaps there was a ray of light in the midst of darkness! Actions have spoken more than words! Perhaps, Muot Division was going to regain its past glory – forested hills and river banks, and even creation of beautiful parks to be owned by home-owners, schools, and local authorities.

It is not only the uneducated and ignorant folks who destroy trees, but the stubborn and indifferent educated people who are supposed to provide leadership. And this scenario is normally made worse by poverty and double-speak by the developed countries. Some leaders in Africa are suspicious and have reacted to the agenda of developed countries with indignation and self- destruction. The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, determined to have a beautiful and breathe-taking Mabira forest carved out and given to an Asian to plant sugarcane, responded to demonstrations against it by saying that trees and forests were a luxury. With such desperation, communities at the grass root level should take lead, and come up with mini-forest in their neighborhoods, to compensate for government ambitious programmes.

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