By now most of you are familiar with the #TwendeMau gist which until the World Environment Day, was the talk of social media. The journey, well, it was one of a kind. What started off as a brainchild of Ms Sarah Kutahi, an environmental guru whose knowledge about birds and trees has always baffled me, ended up being a dream of many…. A dream so small figuratively yet so big in its actuality. It was more of embarking on a journey whose destination was well-known but the route to the destination was just but a blur, impossible to envision pathway.
From the beginning we knew we wanted to do something with the Mau stastus quo especially the non peaceful co-existence between humans of areas around the Mau and the environment which in this case was the Mau Forest, the largest indigenous montane forest and water tower in East Africa. The forest lies across five counties namely Nakuru, Kericho, Bringo, Narok and Bomet of Kenya. It is estimated that 25,000 people live around the these areas that closely border the forest hence leading to upto a quarter of the forest being depleted since 1973, in the quest to settle and farm on the fertile virgin land.
The politics of the Mau are as such the people feel that the coalition government was punishing them for their stand during the 2007 general election with the eviction order which was issued against them. The Kipsigis community who are the main occupants of the water-catchment area affirmatively oppose the eviction order saying they settled in the forest legally. On the other hand we have the Maasai who feel the eviction should materialize saying the illegal extensions of the ranches was the actual genesis of the crisis. Allegedly, the area was allocated to powerful individuals in the Government, who are now opposed to eviction.
This has overtime, casted a shadow of fear over the Mau as the Maasai and Kipsigis both of whom have stakes in the Mau Forest Complex, might clash violently, and the government stalling and standing on the fence over the issue does not help the situation a bit. The more than 25,000 settlers, who are mainly famers have totally degraded and ddestroyed the environment to pave way for their settlement and farming. These combined activities have caused several rivers to dry up permanently.
As Ambassadors Of PEACE we found it necessary to launch a campaign to save the Mau as we restore its initial density by being practical and trying to fit in the shoe of the residents in the area. We took this initiative because we understand what it means to live without peace and especially how deforestation is more of a peace disruptor than a peace maker. It took more than four pre-visits at the Nessuit area in Njoro Sub county, Nakuru county, to convince the residents that for change, and a positive change at that to be achieved, they needed to be more involved and not just that, but also being realistic about the degrading activities that they are involved in constantly.
Amongst the vices around the Mau is logging which has led to parts of the forest which was all an indigenous forest to be depleted and instead, exotic trees have been planted to feed into the logging business. Exotic trees hardly boost positively the micro climate of an area because they are deeply rooted making them more of a threat. Humans must always be at peace with the environment.
All these factors culminated to a gathering of over 600 people in Tritagoi primary school in Nessuit on the 5th of June 2016 to embark on a journey of a 1000 miles whose humble baby steps have woken up mojos of conservation. 10 kms we walked under the scotching sun, under the beautiful shades of what is left of the Mau, over vallies, and across rivers which symbolically indicated the cradle of life. The beautiful songs from the birds reminded us just how serene and musical life is, when mother nature is not tampered with. The scotching sun, for a momemt, allowed us to see how our little hands can destroy just as much as they can build. Those 10kms, were a true definition of a walk of life, which led us to assembling at an area near Sigaon primary school. After a short stretchy rest, we assembled and together planted 2000 seedlings of a variety of indigenous trees which was the ultimate goal of the day…..
The most joyous thing that happened on that day was the fact that, those who took the front line were school going pupils and young adults which really impacted the sustainability of the maiden green print event and which by far and wide played a big role in realizing sustainable goals number 13 and 15 which will lead to realization of all the 17 goals due to their interdependent nature. This also marked the cradle of a conservation journey across the country with the main focus of reconciling people and nature as we educate more on importance of conservation and youth involvement.
Big thank you to the county government of Nakuru for the massive support they accorded us. The Kenya Forest Service, and the Mau Forest Conservation Board for sharing our platform as we did our little something to restore and conserve the Mau. Special appreciations to Geothermal Development Company (GDC) and Mr. Opiyo, an environmental scientist at GDC who donated 1000 seedlings towards the Twende Mau event, and Mr. McOdero, Assistant Ecosystem Conservator at the Kenya Forest Service for donating the other 1000 seedlings. Their efforts in conservation are a true indicator that the mission to green the future will be a reality eventually.
Also, with a lot of adoration and admiration, i would love to thank , Lord Egerton Academy, Rift Valley Prestige Schools, Njoro Girls High School, Sigaon Primary School and Tritagoi Primary school and the management of these schools for commemorating with us the world environment day by allowing its pupils to walk the talk with us. Appreciations to the Peace Ambassadors Kenya Volunteers acrross all the 40 chapters in public institutions for showing up in numbers to make the day a great success that it was. To every single individual who supported and participated in any capacity, thank you so very much. Heroes are made of that.
As we soldier on with our goal for a greener future, never underestimate the power of small deeds. Join us in doing small deeds to realize a bigger goal.
BY MARYLIZE BIUBWA MSAWUGHI
FOR GREENPRINT KENYA