The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Environment’

Where is Boni?

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Boni* is a street boy whom I met a year ago.
I enjoyed a chat with him as we walked towards a nearby grocery market to buy some bananas for him and friends.
I remember him sharing that despite being a street boy, he will, “Never give up!”
The boys used to stay and nap under some trees along Ngong Road. The trees were their homes.
After an early meeting today at iHub Nairobi, I walked past the same trees that are now chopped, burnt to ashes, abandoned.
No longer tall and green.
No longer a home.
“Where is Boni?” I thought.
But the lonely air responded with heartbreaking silence.

Mambo Maasai Mara!

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I’ve always dreamed of the Maasai Mara. Experiencing the large expanse of natures glory and a beautiful culture that has made a mark even on the international scene.

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Pssst! Let me tell you a secret. My dream wedding proposal (before this post) had always been on a hot air balloon, during a sunrise over the glorious Mara. My future husband will now have to work with another creative plan which brings the drama which I love.

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So what led me to the Mara? Well, I travelled with my colleagues at the Amani Institute for a Design Thinking course. It was fun and I totally loved the fact that I got to experience camping for the very first time.

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If you’ve never done camping at the Mara, I highly recommend starting with the Oldarpoi Mara Camp. It’s an intimate eco-camp that economically empowers the local community and offers a rich cultural immersion into the Maasai community. We got to enjoy a beautiful musical performance by a local blacksmith who makes spears using inherited tools that are more than 100 years. Also, we got to ejnoy traditional dances by Maasai warriors.

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To be honest, I did enjoy my time at the Mara though I could not forget the choking sensation I got on my way to the Mara. I had seen a sea of plastic (PVC) paper bags on both sides of the road, stuck on shrubs and trees. Some were sweeping across the widespread land like tumbleweed. This was the only thing that I didn’t enjoy, particularly the pollution around shops.

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However, I was happy to know that there’s a new NGO in the area that’s working with the community to deal with waste management. They actually gather community members once a month to collect waste and dispose it correctly. I saw the impact within communities and it was a breath of fresh air.

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As we took a walk to meet community members, we met this old man who was tending to his goats and sheep. Ole Mutet is his name and we were informed that he educated his son using cows and now his boy has graduated from the University of Oregon in the US. He blessed us with a traditional Maasai story and it was awesome!

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We met groups of ladies selling traditional Maasai jewelry and the temptation was on the high. One in particular offered me a discount on a beaded bangle if I took a photo of her. It was a great ideal and so here she is!

Tip: Wearing a Maasai shuka (the material/blanket I am wearing in the photo above) is a sign of respect so grab one when headed for the Mara and wear it when interacting with community members.

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For four days, I got to enjoy this peaceful aboard away from the busy city. It was awesome and I plan to do ballooning at the Mara soon. At least for now I’ll soak in how amazing it was to wake up, eat, rest, dance and discover the Maasai Mara through this camping experience.

Enjoy the rest of the pics from my trip!

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Have you been to the Maasai Mara? I would love to know about your experience. If not, boy does a great adventure await you.

Scars into Stars – A Lifestyle of Mentorship!

A Lifestyle of Mentorship

A Lifestyle of Mentorship

 

My failed businesses had a purpose after all! Recently, I learned the positive side to all of my failed business projects in the past.

My mother once looked at me as I cried, one failed business followed by another. I had done my research right. I had prepared a super business strategy; I had already contacted some business mentors. Yet still, my businesses did not pick up and failed in the end. I truly learned the art of trial and error with an extra baggage of frustration.

But today, my mother’s words, “My dear child, don’t worry, one day all these things will make sense.”

That ‘one day’ was today!

I met a young man on my way home who camped outside in the cold selling some warm snacks for passers-by. I was intrigued by his determination and the fact that he was the only vendor within vicinity who was actually standing up, waiting for customers. Other vendors had wrapped themselves in warm things as they curled themselves on their chairs waiting for clients.

I’ve got the blood of a marketer so I simply gave-in to the young man for his commendable appeal. What I had planned to be a one-stop trip to buy a roasted smokie with kachumbari led to a deep conversation about business.

He said that he never got the chance to finish school but he’s using what he’s got to earn a decent living. In the freezing cold weather he smiled with excitement over his small business and said that he would like to try out new products. Other vendors had taken up his idea and he needed to beat the competition.

As he spoke, I remembered all of my struggles; all the capital I had invested, burning the midnight oil doing research and coming up with a business strategy, prayers galore and making my family members guinea pigs for business experiments

I could not leave this young man without fueling his passion for his business.

And so I spoke, and asked him questions, provided him with examples and gave him ideas on how to expand his business. He was amazed that a stranger would take time to motivate him!

Well, at the time my business was failing flat on the floor… my friends had no idea about why I needed to make it work so bad, my mentors suddenly went A-WALL, my family honestly just needed a break.

Then I finally learned my lesson today: my business failed not because my attitude or plans were wrong. They simply failed because of that extra push to greatness that I lacked from someone who believed in me.

I know not if I’ll ever meet the young man again, but one thing is for sure – I made sure that by the time I left that young man, he didn’t have questions but ideas to put into action. After purchasing the snacks that he sold, I am glad that he was more determined than I had found him.

~Even if we suffer through challenges, the least we can do is carry the lessons we learn though it all and use them to inspire another person.

This is the true spirit of mentorship!

Yours Truly,
Ayuma.

Storymoja Hay Festival 2013 (19th - 22nd September)

Storymoja Hay Festival 2013 (19th – 22nd September)

 

UPCOMING HAY FESTIVAL!!!

The Storymoja Hay Festival is on September 19 – 22, 2013. Mark the Date. You will definitely leave the festival thinking in a whole new way! Imagine the World OR Waza Dunia

Follow Storymoja Hay Festival on Facebook and on @SMHayFest on Twitter for updates on tickets, travel & accomodation, guest authors, pre-fest events and event programming. see also our official website.

 

HISTORY OF STORY MOJA:

Storymoja Hay Festival is a collaboration between Kenyan publishers Storymoja and Hay Festival UK to create a platform for showcasing great literature, poetry and ideas in the country’s capital, Nairobi.
Out of the various editions organized by Hay Festival UK the Storymoja Hay Festival is the only one in Africa. It is arguably the biggest literary event in East and Central Africa. It is held annually in Nairobi and features internationally renowned creative minds.
Founded in 2008 The Storymoja Hay Festival is a four day celebration of our stories and our culture through storytelling, books, live discussion forums, workshops, debates, live performances, competitions, mchongoano and music.
The Storymoja Hay Festival has grown from 500 visitors the first year, to over 5000 attendees in 2012
We have enjoyed the support of over 50 partners over the last four years, including HIVOS, US Embassy, British Council, Dutch Embassy, National Museums of Kenya, Kenya ICT Board, Google, Alexander Forbes, Oxfam,

The Lonely War in Kenya

Poaching for Ivory in Kenya

Poaching for Ivory in Kenya

My opinion is that poaching in Kenya is a great result of corruption in our government. I totally support the fact that Hands off our Elephants is a great campaign to address this matter but my worry is that this time it’s our elephants; next time, it might be our lions, then perhaps our flamingos which are already facing a population crisis. Or perhaps our forest covers which continue to be echoed by the late Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement.

I say “I will not cry over elephants”, not because I don’t care about our elephants but because crying and worrying are emotional reactions to a situation that I feel is caused by our very own leaders. Yes! There is no way that all that ivory keeps escaping our borders without even one of our leaders knowing about it, leave alone blowing a whistle.

Our rangers can’t be out there risking their lives to fight poachers yet our leaders are part of the problem! This is the main reason behind my loud rant and I am glad that I have stepped on a few toes to make people speak up even in the social networks. The problem isn’t just the fact that our elephants are being killed by “foreign” poachers often pinned to the Chinese, China Wu Yi… The numbers of suspects are endless. But the problem is that while we are having sleepless nights about the poaching menace and how our economy is failing us, our very own leaders are part of the problem. This is why I strongly support the fight against corruption. This is the root cause of the problem!

I just wish, truly wish that all the vigour used in the anti-poaching campaign – the determination, the research and filming efforts (which I strongly feel Kenyan filmmakers should take lead on and not foreign filmmakers), the heavy emotion towards the loss of our country’s treasure (elephants) through the poaching crackdown – was put into fighting corruption which is the mother of this poaching menace.

How can we as Kenyan citizens best fight this poaching menace? How can I help to fight in the anti-poaching war in my daily life? Honestly, there aren’t too many options for us that will produce quick results that we need given the current state of the situation. My guess is that it might somehow boil down to raising funds just as we did with protecting the Mau forest, bringing Zack back home, Kenyans for Kenya and many other public appeals to take care of our own people and natural resources. But this shouldn’t be the case in my view. Instead, the country should be appealed to participate in a massive cleaning up of our house in our quest to fight impunity in our country. Yes, it might seem farfetched but I truly believe that if we as a nation put more effort in collectively fighting the big fire and not the sparks, then we would start seeing the change that we need.

Corruption is the mother of all evil

Corruption is the mother of all evil

Guess what? We don’t have to raise funds to fight corruption in our country! In fact, we’ll save loads of money by ensuring that resources go where they ought to go. You and I can simply start the war on corruption in our very own homes; the change begins with us! We could speak up and support the very few leaders in our country with a passion for a corruption-free Kenya.

I believe that all’s not lost and that we do have the opportunity to be a better Kenya and stop hitting global headlines as one of the world’s top 10 corrupt countries. This shouldn’t be, not with all the beauty I still see in my country. If Nigeria was able to fight this monster and be in a better place after the war on corruption…We can do it, we can make it. Not by getting together to raise funds but by collectively deciding, “WE AS KENYANS DO NOT TOLERATE CORRUPTION!”

We need to support true leaders who are managers, not crusaders who we often see in the evening news. It shouldn’t always be about them so let’s give them the silence that they deserve. We need to support our leaders who are true managers and focus on making do with what we have, not demand for more. Those who make strict policies to protect the dignity of Kenyan citizens. Those who don’t complain to every camera that points at them, but those who work and give results.
Then our elephants will forget the scent of poachers and roting blood of their own. Then Kenya will no longer be one of the highest taxed counties in the world. Then our children will grow up to taste the sweet fruit of integrity within our country.

The fight against corruption is big, insanely big, but we do need to start it soon before it’s too late.

Storymoja Hay Festival September 19th -22nd 2013

Storymoja Hay Festival September 19th -22nd 2013

The Storymoja Hay Festival is on September 19 – 22, 2013. Mark the Date. You will definitely leave the festival thinking in a whole new way! Imagine the World.
Follow Storymoja Hay Festival on Facebook and on @SMHayFest on Twitter for updates on tickets, travel & accomodation, guest authors, pre-fest events and event programming. see also our official website.

Yours Truly,

Ayuma.

Amazing Zanzibar!

Have you ever longed for a holiday for quite some time only for reality to constantly strike you with demands, demands and more demands? Well, that was me for quite a number of years but little did I know that one awaited my indulgence in April 2013. I recently found out that I had been booked for a flight to Zanzibar for a business trip. You can only imagine how my eyes welled, for I never thought that the day would come this soon. I could finally accomplish my dream travels to Zanzibar! Why the emotion? Well, let’s just say that I had been longing for a Zanzibar holiday since high-school. It may seem fairly naïve but I guess once a girl, always a girl!

 

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Sea Cliff Resort & Spa

The best thing about this trip is that it barely hit me that I was working during my stay at Sea Cliff Resort & Spa added to the importance of pursuing a job that I love. I had a great time bonding with my colleagues and discovering their great sense of humour. I got the chance to build friendships with some of the other hotel guests which was amazing as we still communicate. The staff members were polite, the themed dinners at Mangapwani Restaurant absolutely scrumptious.

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Mwangapwani Restaurant Poolside – Sea Cliff Resort & Spa

 

The venue was breath-taking with scenetic traditional Swahili architecture, tropical plants gracing the landscape, the Jetty Bar that literally floats atop the Indian Ocean, a lovely beach by day and crushing waves by the ocean cliff by evening.

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Jetty Bar at Sea Cliff Resort & Spa

 

There’s also a mini-beach within the hotel compound, bicycles available for cycling and even a gym that I escaped visiting out of laziness…Haha! I had the chance to enjoy a Jacuzzi in my room and this added to my indulgence.

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Jacuzzi in Executive Room – Sea Cliff Resort & Spa

 

The conference facilities were excellent and perhaps this explained why there were so many international guests flocking in for business conferences! Other guests incuded families from all around the world enjoying a summer holiday and even some couples possessed with love on their honeymoon. There was enough for everyone to feast on at the great location!

 

Meeting the Locals

I learned so much from the locals in Zanzibar during a tour to some of the CARE International humanitarian projects. It was clear that I came out as a city girl since my Nairobi Kiswahili called for assistance with translation into the heavily Arabic Swahili spoken in Zanzibar. I got empowered by the strength and resilience of the ladies who fought tradition to pursue a wholesome life for their families and protecting the dignity of their daughters by daily breaking sweat to educate them. Early marriages are often the trend on the island and due to lack of proper girl-child education; homes are often dependent on men as bread-winners. The main project feature tree farming, jiko (ceramic stove) making and butterfly farming. We had a great chat with the project beneficiaries and even managed to receive great shopping tips from the ladies. We women and shopping!

 

Shopping Experience

Oftentimes, many go to StoneTown to shop where prices are hiked due to its popularity as a tourist centre. Instead we went with our driver to do some shopping and it was funny how he got into the shopping fever to a point of recommending which dress I should buy for my mother and the Swahili make-up that would best suit my yellow-skinned little sister. A funny guy he was, but he was really helpful in the bargaining process at the Daraja Market where locals do their shopping at friendly prices. We had to make sure that we had Tanzanian currency to access goods or services and we had done this as soon as we arrived at Kisauni Airport. Also, we were advised to keep watch of our money as the market is busy with activity, hence easy location for pick-pockets; merchants following potential buyers in the streets, motorbikes hooting for way, vendors unpacking fresh catch from the sea, children running around and the jobless corner with individuals offering shopping-errand services in exchange for money. It seems crazy but funny at the same time for I thought that I had transposed to a typical Indian market. Luckily, we had a great shopping experience with great buys at awesome bargains. My family members now have something cool from Zanzibar and I was lucky enough to actually find a lovely dress that touches my toes, which is often a shopping challenge for me in Nairobi!

 

Hard to Say Goodbye

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Sea Cliff Resort & Spa in Zanzibar

As I sat down on the terrace, enjoying my last moments at the hotel, I decided to post a Trip Advisor travel review about my amazing Zanzibar experience. Whether they approve it or not, all I know is that one has to experience it personally to understand the emotional attachment triggered by this little island of mine – my island of escape to great adventure. You bet I’ll be back!

PS: This post had to come early, I couldn’t wait 🙂

Yours Truly,

Ayuma.

An Oasis at the Heart of Nairobi

Nairobi, which is a Maasai word for “place of cool waters” is an amazing place to be. Not just because of the rich mix of cultures from around the nation of Kenya, but the geographical treasures you find in the city as well.

At the Uhuru Park bridge with Nairobi CBD in the bacground

At the Uhuru Park bridge with Nairobi CBD in the background

One sunny morning, my good friend Esther said that we should kill boredom by taking a nice walk within the Nairobi city centre. As usual, I doubted the crazy ideas that could have started brooding inside Esther’s mind. But then again, I was proved wrong. What we thought could have been a random walk in the city ended up being an amazing experience that took us back to our happy childhood days.

One of the monuments at Uhuru Park - The crest of the cock (jogoo)

One of the monuments at Uhuru Park – The crest of the cock (jogoo)

The most amazing thing is how cheap and available such a lovely experience is, yet many locals never dare to experience it. We alighted at the GPO bus stop and we headed for the Alliance Francaise which is a French cultural centre in Nairobi. Our passion for the arts made us go there as the centre always has amazing events for those who have a rich appetite and appreciation for music, language and various forms of art.

Later on, we headed for another random errand. But first, Esther said she had to take some photos at Uhuru Park which lies right at the centre of the city as if to provoke our pride in our natural treasures during our busy days. I really did not know what Esther expected to see. It had been long since I last visited the park many years ago as a child and the place wasn’t so popular to the average young Kenyan. This is because there wasn’t much to see or enjoy. I remember seeing only green grass, very few trees, interesting looking Kenyan monuments and the typical spread of people sleeping all over the grass. I personally did not like the way many people just sat around on the grass doing nothing. To avoid joining the crowd, I simply used to avoid going to the park.

Park Seats at Uhuru Park with a provoking message to positive action

Park seats at Uhuru Park with a provoking message to positive action

I tried beating all the hesitation in me just to let Esther have fun as she polishes her photography skills at Uhuru Park. Luckily, I never got the chance to regret it. The place had changed so much and I loved it. It literally looks like an Oasis in the middle of the busy sunny city.

There was a lovely cool breeze that helped us better enjoy the lovely sunshine. It comes out as a striking location for a perfect picnic with friends or family. There is a man-made lake with lovely ripples and bunches of palm trees surrounding it. An interesting development of boat-riding is available for water lovers and you can even spot some lovely orange fish swimming in the water. There are ponds with frogs, wide water lilies and some space to sit and just enjoy the view.

For the kids, there is more than enough theme-park fun activities available merry-go-rounds, banana rides and sand box facilities for toddlers. The park is now a popular scene for skateboarding within the city. You can even cycle around the park, do some jogging if you desire, enjoy a nature walk with your dog, take advantage of the wind by flying your kite, do a painting project of your own or just read your favourite book.

Beautiful man-made lake at Uhuru Park with a large pond at the side

Beautiful man-made lake at Uhuru Park with a large pond on the side

After inhaling the WOW factor of the Uhuru park renovations we jumped right into taking photos of ourselves at the park. I am happy that though there were not as many people sitting on the grass as I can remember (which I hope is the sign of an improved working nation), I loved the fact that there is so much more to enjoy at the park than the unfortunate case in my childhood.

So if you’ve got some free time in your hands, perhaps during your lunch break from the busy office, please do make a point of going to Uhuru park to relax and unwind.

If you are a Kenyan 80’s kid, don’t miss this chance to visit this amazing place to relive old memories. If you’ve got kids, why not let them enjoy the park at its present and revamped state?

As we count down to the National Elections in Kenya on March 4th 2013, let us remember to be peaceful and accept the outcome of the results so that we can be able to comfortably enjoy the beauty that’s within our country such as Uhuru Park.

Have fun at Uhuru Park!

Have fun at Uhuru Park!

History About Uhuru Park:

Uhuru is a Kiswahili word for freedom. So added to the city’s Maasai name Nairobi, it’s poetic: Freedom at the heart of the place with cool waters. There’s so much beauty and rest within our nation Kenya. Uhuru park is a 12.9 hectare recreational park at the centre of the Nairobi Business Centre. Kenya’s first president, the Late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta officially opened the park to the public on May 23rd 1969. The park is famous as a peaceful protest zone. During the Moi regime in 1989, there was a significant protest against illegal land grabbing led by Kenya’s Nobel Laureate, the Late Prof. Wangari Maathai. Also, there was a significant burning of a heap of condoms by representatives of Kenya’s religious bodies in 1996.

Nobody knows how many more significant events are yet to happen at the park that celebrates freedom of the Kenyan people. But as we wait for more greatness to unveil, simply enjoy this beautiful resource and all that it brings.
So next time you’re in town, swing by Uhuru park!

For more photos on our Uhuru Park visit and other escapades visit Esther’s photography Facebook page: Belle Photography

Yours Truly,

Ayuma.

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