The con­crete jun­gle

The Star (Kenya) - - Sasa Out And About - BY GARETH JONES /@celti­cafrican

In 1899, the rail­way line con­struc­tion from Mombasa to Lake Vic­to­ria found a good mid­way wa­ter­ing point that soon be­came a busy vil­lage called Nairobi (from the Maa­sai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, mean­ing “the place of cool wa­ters” ). It quickly grew into a large town to be­come the cap­i­tal city, de­spite no sea­port or ma­jor river or min­ing in­dus­try around it.

For thou­sands of years, wildlife thrived on the Athi plains in great num­bers, and the sea­sonal mi­gra­tions were mag­nif­i­cent be­yond de­scrip­tion. Sim­ply speak­ing, this area was a won­der­ful par­adise cre­ated by God.

For hun­dreds of years, the African peo­ple lived in rel­a­tive har­mony with na­ture, then ‘civil­i­sa­tion’ ar­rived. As trees were de­stroyed and wildlife killed, so the city grew. In 1946, the Nairobi Na­tional Park be­came the first of its kind in Kenya, largely due to the bold ac­tions of Mervyn Cowie. At only 117km square, it re­mains a small yet vi­tal ecosys­tem, con­stantly bat­tling against a grow­ing megac­ity. The park has be­come a “green is­land in an ocean of con­crete”.

De­vel­op­ing a strong econ­omy re­quires an ef­fi­cient trans­port net­work. There are plans to build a de­struc­tive rail­way line through this beau­ti­ful, tiny na­tional park. I pray that those in author­ity lis­ten to their con­science and wisely re­con­sider al­ter­na­tive routes around the park.

If Kenya keeps de­stroy­ing its nat­u­ral re­sources for “progress”, the na­tion will slowly lose its soul. We pray 2046 will be a year to cel­e­brate the right choices of this gen­er­a­tion, as the “green jun­gle” is bal­anced with the “con­crete jun­gle”.

/ GARETH JONES

SGR and lions.

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