I come from a rich heritage. Together with Mau Complex, the Marmanet River Basin, in which I reside, contributes in excess of Kshs 20 billion annually by nourishing the tea, tourism and energy sectors that thrive in this region.
In my capacity as water, I contribute to the wellbeing of this region by travelling regularly from the cool depths of Marmanet River Basin into several urban areas that include: Bomet, Egerton University, Elburgon, Eldama Ravine, Kericho, Molo, Nakuru, Narok, and Njoro. I also support rural livelihoods, in particular in the Lake Victoria basin outside the tea growing areas.
My organized association with the people of Marmanet began one sunny afternoon in 2008. On this day, the Marmanet River Basin (MARIBA) Water Resources Users Association was born. Because this name is a bit of a mouthful, I have nicknamed the association as, ‘my local maji (water) team.’ The Ministry of Water and Irrigation encourages the creation of such local water teams so that local communities can better organize themselves in water-related activities.
Within several weeks of formation, this local maji team had already recruited numerous corporate members and 70 individual members. It felt nice to know that there were people in Marmanet who were deeply concerned about my survival and flourish. I was so touched that I set out on a mission to find out who these people were and why they cared so much.
My mission began at a cool quiet place. After spending the night in the cool depths, I arose early, just before sunrise and flowed to a quiet stream in one of the villages. No sooner had I arrived than I heard the familiar footsteps of the middle-aged Mama Kamau. She had a firm walk, as if every step was her last and she wanted to leave this earth with a bang.
She knelt on her knees and dipped her calloused hands into me. I could see a smile creep into her chocolate face as she lifted me and splashed me all over her face. For five minutes, she smiled widely as she kept dipping her hands into me and splashing me all over her face. She then began scooping me with a calabash and pouring me into a large 20-litre bucket.
I think I know why she loves me, I thought as she walked briskly up the gentle incline that led back to her village. She was one of the 70 people who had joined the local maji team. As she poured me into a big black pot in her kitchen, I realised that she truly loved me. I wasn’t just some colorless liquid that quenched her thirst, washed her body and cooked her food. Rather, I was a close companion that gave her strength to face a new day and make that day the best possible day for her family.
The next stop of my mission was in a river that flowed through a flower farm.
‘Splash!’ I screamed on top of my voice. This was my curse word and I only used it in moments of high agitation. Such a moment was at hand. It was lunch break and it seemed as if everyone wanted a piece of me as I flowed through the flower farm. They kept dipping their weary feet into me and much as I was happy to refresh them, I also needed to be refreshed.
There were acres and acres of flower greenhouses all around me. I have always wondered why greenhouses are not blue or yellow or any other color. But I digress.
All these greenhouses have pipes that usually suck me from the river or the cool depths, to water the flowers. After benefiting immensely from my watery cuddle, the flowers are then sold for highly competitive prices to a grateful European market. These successful flower sales transactions leave wealth in their trail. But what do they leave in my watery trail? After the fragrance of Naivasha’s flowers spreads across the world, fattening wallets and warming hearts, what am I left with?
My hope and expectation is that my local maji team, otherwise known MARIBA Water Resources Users Association, together with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (the maji team’s coach), will answers these questions honestly and undertake action that will leave me refreshed and replenished.