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Aminata Kone

Aminata Kone

In May 2017, I went to Karura Forest for a forest trek. Despite having lived in Nairobi for all my life, this was my first time in the forest that was thrust into prominence when Wangari Maathai fiercely defended it from the Moi Government’s attempt to annex part of it for development.

I was just a little kid when that happened and it is only much later that I saw videos of a battered but impregnable Wangari Maathai facing off with the police and a bunch of hooligans right in the heart of the forest. I later met her during the launch of her film, an even that I was moderating. I remember turning to her on the stage and thanking her for her courage. I call it green courage.

The courage to stand up and defend our God given nature from those who would seek to annihilate it in the name of development. Thanks to Wangari Maathai’s green courage, Karura stands tall and green today. But other battles demand green courage to arise. Donald Trump should be a major recipient of this courage because his disdain and sabotage of the Paris Accord is simply unacceptable. But that is a story for another day. Today, I want to talk a bit about illegal logging.

"We are born to live, not to prepare for life." Boris Leonidovich Pasternak

In 2016, UNEP and Interpol released a joint rapid assessment report entitled, ‘The Rise of Environmental Crime.’ This report contained the shocking news that Kenya loses, 70,000 hectares of forest each year to illegal logging. To put that into perspective, Kenya loses an area that is one and a half times bigger than Seychelles every year to illegal logging. How is this even happening and why aren’t Kenyans taking to the streets to protest this utter injustice and demand action?! Could it be because green courage is in short supply? Although Kenya is overflowing with environmentalists and environmental organizations, one wonders whether the vast majority of this either bereft of requisite tools or the passion to keep green green. I go with the latter, because as I once said in my poem, ‘butterfly on her shoulder’, “passion pushes you to your limits and pulls you from your comfort zone. Passion stirs an overflow of courage.”

We cannot keep losing 70,000 hectares of forest each year to illegal logging. Or even one hectare for that matter because the loss of one tree today is similar to the loss of a forest tomorrow.

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