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.
The Indian Ocean looked like blue ink that had spilt across the table forming an irregular map. Funny how everything looks so small from above. I thought to myself. We had just taken off from Malindi airport and were now flying above the Indian Ocean, on our way to Lamu.
A few meters from a dusty path that leads towards Kakamega Forest in western Kenya lies a medium sized house whose rusty iron sheet roof glints softly in the late afternoon rain. A stone throw away from the craggy house stands an Elgon Teak tree, regal and replete in its natural splendor. Resting his head on the rugged bark of the tree is mzee Mumia, a seventy-seven year old man who has lived next to the forest for all his life. He is gazing expressionlessly at the African Grey Parrot that can be seen flying gently towards some nearby shrubs.
In his eyes, there was sadness, but his face was excited as he pulled ahead of two other children and ran towards the kitchen area. In his tiny right hand, was a small plastic tin that still bore the brown remnants of the previous day’s food.