2 May 2017
An imposing fig tree once stood here, thriving in health, beauty and vigour and surrounded by smaller indigenous trees. Ngaya Forest was the hub of ambience and serenity with its branches offering cool shelter for all. It was a perfect place to recharge the soul and uplift the spirit. Pregnant elephants ambled here to give birth, hence its reference as the elephant maternity.
Bird songs came in whistles, trills and chirps. Monkey chatters filled the air as the children took turns to dive into the clear waters of River Kinna, not to mention the bulging ponds and freely roaming wildlife. Underground rivers abounded, springing up onto the ground to quench the wildlife in Meru Park. Plenty and abundance was the order of the day.
Suddenly, the dawn chorus was replaced by the drone of chain saws and graders. Swarms of butterflies fluttered away, searching for a more welcoming home. Trunks of logs were scattered all through, never again to offer cool shelter to anyone. We encroached on the habitat, cutting firewood for fuel and driving in our livestock for pasture without a second thought for tomorrow.
Now, the Ngaya Forest remains a patch work of green on the brown landscape. My once serene and bewitching motherland is just but a shadow of herself. Women and children now walk tens of kilometres under the scorching sun in search of water. It has been a year since we received sufficient rainfall and there are clearly no signs of a near downpour anytime soon. Animals are dying, both domestic and wild, and wild fires have become common.
As one of the community elders, I have held discussions with the Born Free Foundation and Kenya Forest Service on how my community, young and old, can participate in the rehabilitation of this forest. I want to be part of the ongoing initiative; I want the old times back; I want to bequeath my descendants what my forefathers left me so that when my exit time is nigh, I will be at peace.