How I con­quered Mt Kenya

Of­fi­cial hopes that his ex­pe­ri­ence will in­spire oth­ers and help mar­ket the coun­try’s tourism

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - NATIONAL NEWS - BY TOSHITSUGU UESAWA Mr Uesawa is the am­bas­sador of Ja­pan to Kenya

Ja­panese am­bas­sador re­counts his ex­pe­ri­ence climb­ing to third high­est peak

It has been one-and-a-half years since I ar­rived in Nairobi on my cur­rent tour of duty. In that time, I have been for­tu­nate to travel to var­i­ous in­ter­est­ing places in Kenya, ex­pe­ri­enced and en­joyed the unique tastes of each re­gion, and spent time talk­ing to peo­ple from all walks of life.

Dur­ing th­ese trav­els and con­ver­sa­tions, I was al­ways left with a feel­ing that this is a mag­nif­i­cent coun­try, and that Kenyans are a great peo­ple.

De­spite my age (I am over 60 years old), I felt im­pelled to take a trip to climb Mt Kenya, and see what view of the coun­try is of­fered from the peak of that fa­mous moun­tain. So, I took a week’s hol­i­day and set off on the jour­ney.

I trav­elled in a party of nine, which in­cluded a friend, a cook, a guide and some porters. I was deeply im­pressed by my guide, David, who later told me his dream is to be the first Kenyan to scale the sum­mit of Mt Ever­est — the world’s high­est peak.

Mt Kenya stands at 5,199 me­tres. That is no easy climb. Although we suc­cess­fully ac­com­plished our goal of reach­ing the Le­nana Sum­mit, by the time we got there we were greatly af­fected by al­ti­tude sick­ness and could barely man­age one more step.

We had reached the limit of our phys­i­cal strength and were over­whelmed and fa­tigued.

But in the end, it was worth it. The view from the top is a won­der to be­hold. The moun­tain ranges il­lu­mi­nated by the ris­ing sun, and the sea of clouds that lay be­neath us, pro­vided for a breath­tak­ingly beau­ti­ful scene.

Gaz­ing on that un­for­get­table scene, I re­alised that Kenya’s tourism re­sources are not only a means of en­hanc­ing the GDP, but are also a global trea­sure. From that height, it was daz­zlingly clear to me that Kenya has great po­ten­tial and that this beauty is a source of vi­tal­ity to all Kenyan peo­ple. I had to share this fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence with peo­ple all over the world, through our home­page of the Em­bassy of Ja­pan in Kenya, and on Youtube.

I hope that my jour­ney to the top of the moun­tain will help pro­mote Kenya’s tourism and in­spire those who read this ar­ti­cle to try and make a trip to the area one day.

From the next day, I felt en­er­gised to give ev­ery­thing I had in pro­mot­ing the friend­ship between Kenya and Ja­pan.

This friend­ship has ex­isted for many decades now. Our bi­lat­eral diplo­matic re­la­tions started just af­ter Kenya’s in­de­pen­dence in 1963, so we have been en­joy­ing a firm re­la­tion­ship for half a cen­tury now. This part­ner­ship is built on friend­ship, shared val­ues and in­ter­ests.

Dur­ing this pe­riod, Ja­pan has pro­vided sup­port of more than Sh600 bil­lion to Kenya as de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance. This av­er­ages Sh11 bil­lion ev­ery year for half a cen­tury. In­deed Kenya is cur­rently the largest re­cip­i­ent of Ja­panese as­sis­tance in sub-sa­ha­ran Africa.

The ex­pan­sion of Ngong Road which is set to ease trans­port within Nairobi, and the Olka­ria geo­ther­mal power plant, which in­tro­duced world-class, cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy to Kenya’s en­ergy sec­tor, are two ex­am­ples of our de­sire to see great im­prove­ments in Kenya’s pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture.

But we also seek to play an ac­tive role in the Kenyan econ­omy, which is largely driven by the pri­vate sec­tor. The best ex­am­ple of this is the Dongo Kundu Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zone in Mom­basa, cur­rently un­der construction. This, along with the up­grad­ing of the Mom­basa Port and re­lated in­fra­struc­ture projects, are ma­jor projects ex­pected to cre­ate more than 27,000 jobs.

How­ever, the event, which — more than any­thing else — high­lighted the friendly re­la­tions between our two coun­tries was the TICAD VI con­fer­ence, which took place in Nairobi last year.

It was the first ever to be hosted on the African con­ti­nent. The event brought to­gether top-level stake­hold­ers in African de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing heads of state. Work­ing to­gether, we were able to make TICAD VI a tremen­dous suc­cess.

I con­clude by say­ing that any in­vest­ment Ja­pan makes in Kenya is not for short-term profit or ben­e­fit. We al­ways have in mind the need to give pri­or­ity to long-term in­vest­ment for hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment, as this is what has been the key to our own eco­nomic suc­cess in Ja­pan.

From the next day, I felt en­er­gised to give ev­ery­thing I had in pro­mot­ing the friend­ship between Kenya and Ja­pan.”

COR­RE­SPON­DENT | NA­TION

Left: Ja­panese am­bas­sador Toshitsugu Uesawa who climbed Mt Kenya re­cently. Top: Mr Uesawa (in red) on the moun­tain.

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