Friday, April 19, 2024

Spare Us This Time


I am in the breadbasket of Kenya, next to the mighty Sagana river. Mighty is what it used to be. Sharp rocks far outweigh the volume of water. The scorching Sun makes my bald head shine. The breadbasket of Kenya is now a hotbed, quite literally. And the weatherman says this drought will go on till the next season, which is a technical term for ‘no one knows’.

Fast forward to the evening. I am in Nyeri, another part of the breadbasket, with my mother’s mother. In the middle of our discourse, she says in despair,” We can’t do anything about the rain. Let us wait until God kills us with this drought”.

We leave after the evening meal to catch some sleep at my other grandmother. The story is the same. Word on the hills is that those who planted early are the laughing stock here. I retire to bed, thankful that the hot weather will be friendly to my body, but wondering if the Sun will turn up the Heat tomorrow.

But God is faithful. In the dead of the night, a drizzle. Then more rain. Then lots of rain. It seems God has spared us this time. My granny’s sigh was heard in heaven, the heavens cried, and the Angel of Death was turned away, to roam in other lands, or to regroup with his henchmen, and prepare for a later, more forceful assault.

Time flies by, and my short holiday is over. I make my way in haste through the highlands towards the Big City, as if running ahead of the rains. But, alas! The once asphalt grey streets, now soiled with red mud. It rained in the City too. Cats and dogs, as our ‘Group of Schools’ sages, love to say. I pick the newspaper, and on it, a picture of the Kainuk bridge, the biggest link on land to the vast arid land of Turkana. Cars on this side and trucks on the other side are no more linked by the bridge but separated by the raging floodwaters that submerge it.

As I turn online for solace, the theme is the same. My fellow millennials feel content to while away their time debating whether the looming Cyclone coming this way will hit the Equator, and why it has to have a Western name-Kenneth. The Grim Reaper, it seems, has a thousand ways to kill.

To my ears, so used to the language of bounty, plenty and safety in the highlands, this tale of doom from far lands like Tiaty and Tana River, is slowly becoming my story. The hooded devil, Climate Change, is slowly coming this way, and it’s all our fault. And while our men of the cloth are busy changing prayer items- praying for rains, then asking the heavens why it floods- we must take responsibility for the world bequeathed to us in its unblemished form, and make haste to restore it to its lost glory. Nature may yet again have spared our globe from the results of our actions,  but we must cooperate to reverse the state of things, or else we are on our own, sailing without chart or compass on an uncharted sea.

We must act, and act quickly.



The writer is a Landscape Architect passionate about the environment.

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