By Andrew Kipkemboi
Nothing beats the pleasure of driving down the countryside; encountering the random muddied tractor or an old Bedford lorry lumbering up the hill, heaving under the weight of freshly cut tree logs or farm produce. Sometimes seeing cows graze in the meadow; smoke billowing from a grass-thatched roof… then chancing upon a river flowing by with fresh, turquoise blue waters that tempts you to go for a swim.
That was then. Things, as they say, today, are different on the ground. The exhilarating outdoor experience has been replaced by the spectre of the struggle many Kenyans go through to meet the bare necessities. It also exposes one to how haphazard development is obliterating the view of unalloyed nature. Nowhere else is “survival for the fittest” truer than here. Soon, driving to, say, Naivasha from Nairobi, will be akin to driving through the most nauseating concrete jungle lined with impatient, obtrusive hawkers jostling to sell you whatever they can in a constant brush with death. Roads, like railways, airports and seaports, have long been associated with thriving commerce and industry. From them, the most diverse, sophisticated and advanced trade routes and wealth creation centres have sprouted. There you encounter the most rudimentary of tradecraft anywhere in the world. Roadside kiosks mirror the desperation across the country… a Darwinian struggle of the survival of the fittest and also, a bankruptcy of ideas by policymakers.