How a fig tree won the Kenya president’s heart?
In this series of letters from African journalists, Joseph Warungo, a media and communications trainer examine the effects of trees on Kenyan politicians.
Governments often do not like to listen to the people. If that were the case, there would not be so much violence on the streets of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Recently, the government has resorted to violence during the election season to silence voices calling for change.
People in Kenya are urging the government and politicians to close their political rallies to stop the spread of Code 19. These meetings are being held in support of the referendum for changes in the constitution.
The people are worried that Covid 19 will not spread further because of these rallies but government and opposition rallies are going on. In such a situation when the people are not listened to and the President of the country obeys the word of a tree on any issue and takes the policy, it will be a surprise. What is the matter?
But the tree that was obeyed is no ordinary tree. This tall fig tree is 100 years old and stands on a section of walkway west of Nairobi. It was decided to cut it to make way for a road under construction.
The 27-kilometre road will connect Jammu Kenyatta International Airport with the western part of Nairobi, and the main road will follow the WikiWay leading to western Kenya and Uganda.
‘Kenya’s Cultural and Environmental Heritage Sign’ No one knows why the president finally changed the government’s decision and ordered not to cut down this fig tree.
He described the tree as a “symbol of Kenya’s cultural and environmental heritage.”
Of course, this tree has great cultural and religious significance for the Bantu-speaking communities.
In western Kenya, some sections of the Lohia community, such as the Maragoli, hold the Makomo or fig tree in high esteem.
Fig trees are also used as milestones in the Maragoli area.
For the people of Central Kenya, the country’s most populous ethnic group, the fig tree has been a shrine, a place of worship and a place of sacrifice.
They do not allow the fig tree to be cut down. He believes that such a move could lead to disaster.
When a fig tree naturally withers or falls to the ground, the cuckoos see it as a bad omen or a sign of the transfer of power from one generation to the next.
In the late 1980s, the then ruling party, the Kenyan African National Union, came up with a grand plan to build a skyscraper as its headquarters in the middle of Nairobi’s famous Ohio Park.
Environmentalists, led by Nobel Peace Prize-winning Professor Wangari Mathi, campaigned against the building’s construction and to save the park.
Eventually, Daniel Arap Moi, then president, was forced to listen to the clouds and the sound of trees in Ohio parks.
A taxi driver told me, “After the president’s order, the Chinese contractors came and stared at the tree, then they looked at the tunnel that was being dug to save the tree and walked away shaking their heads.”
The Chinese would have thought how powerful the Magomo tree would have used to stop the engineers from working and force them to listen.
Many in Kenya want more trees to speak out and, in the referendum, refuse to support and fill the pockets of what they say are selfish politicians who endanger people’s lives in the critical period of the Coronavirus epidemic. have been.
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