Kenya: A Blessed Land
A True Story
on Nov 28, 2019
Back in 2006 when I was applying to Dartmouth College in the United States, I wrote an essay about my country Kenya. (I still have a copy of that essay here in my room.) Because Dartmouth was interested in knowing more about me than my country, I have been thinking it was unwise of me to pen an essay about Kenya; I should have written something that revealed something unique about me. All the same, I am impressed with how patriotic I was back then.
I still am patriotic as I love my country Kenya which has, in my opinion, the most beautiful map in the world. And I regularly thank God for the peace prevailing in my country.
Besides its peace, the other things I appreciate about Kenya are its year-round warm climate and natural resources. Yes, we enjoy warm climate throughout the year here in Kenya. And even though it can get unpleasantly chilly in the mornings of July, the chilliness is not as severe as the winter experienced in countries in the northern hemisphere.
Because of the year-round warm climate, it doesn't snow here in Kenya as it happens in countries such as Canada and Sweden. But we do have snow-capped mountains in our country such as Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro that give us a glimpse of how snow looks like. I have personally never been to those two mountains but from the stories I have gathered from friends, I understand they are very taxing to climb and very cold at the top.
The only mountain I have climbed so far is Mt. Longonot which is relatively short. I hiked to the top of that mountain with my high school Wildlife Club in 2002 when I was in Form One. As the mountain is not tall, we climbed it in an afternoon and went back to our camping site before it got dark. And I can't remember getting exhausted at ascending it.
Mt. Longonot is famous for its crater. (Or is it a caldera?). A primary school classmate of mine called Samuel once joked to me when we were in Standard Five in 1998 that a friend of his climbed Mt. Longonot and found Satan roasting maize inside the crater. I found that joke funny especially the way he uttered it in Kikuyu, which is why I have recalled it today.
Kenya is also blessed with numerous green hills. The most known are Ngong Hills that form the western horizon of my home-area. I once hiked through Ngong Hills with my primary school classmates in 1999. And looking back, I am thinking that hiking through Ngong Hills is far more challenging than climbing Mt. Longonot. If you are in search of a physical exercise that will challenge your muscles, I recommend going for an expedition across Ngong Hills. Trust me, those hills will leave your leg muscles aching with pain.
Both Ngong Hills and Mt. Longonot offer a breathtaking view of the Great Rift Valley that runs through Kenya from north to south. When viewed from those hills, the Great Rift Valley has a whitish appearance as if it is covered with mist. And on the floor of the valley are a number of lakes and geysers that attract tourists by their thousands. Among the lakes are Lake Magadi where soda ash is mined. Then there is Lake Nakuru where hundreds of flamingos flock majestically looking for food. What a beautiful sight those flamingos form!
Not all lakes in Kenya are in the Great Rift Valley. Some, like the world-famous Lake Victoria, are situated in other parts of the country. Of all the lakes in the country, Lake Victoria is the largest. The lake, which is fresh-water, provides Kenya with fish. I was fortunate to tour Lake Victoria in 2003 with my high school volleyball team. And what I recollect from that tour is the way the lake didn't appear blue like the Indian Ocean which I saw twice in the '90s during a family tour to the Kenyan coast.
The Indian Ocean is on the south-western side of Kenya. It connects our country to the world through the ships that sail to the Kenyan coast. Several rivers in Kenya drain into the ocean. Among them is River Tana whose source is Mt. Kenya. River Tana is famous locally for the hydro-power stations located along it that provide our nation with electricity.
A story about Kenya would be incomplete without mentioning the numerous national parks and game reserves in the country. In the parks can be found some of the world's most treasured wild animals such as lions, zebras, rhinos, giraffes, buffaloes and elephants. Truly, Kenya is a blessed land.
UPDATE: I have updated with new info the story I wrote last year on "Gaining Wisdom in Pain". Just click on that link in blue to read it. I am sure you'll like the story better the way it is now.
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The Wonder of Honeybees
A True Story
on Nov 17, 2019
When God created our planet Earth, He endowed it with wonderful resources and living things that make life beautiful for man. Resources such as oil, gold and sand. And living things such as bees, fish and livestock. God was such a creative being, wasn't He?
Of all the wonderful living things that God put on Earth for man's benefit, the honeybees are the most amazing. I find it a wonder the way those dainty insects are able to produce sweet honey that leaves us licking our fingers whenever we taste it. And that honey is not only sweet; it also has health benefits for us humans. Health experts tell us that honey contains antioxidants that reduce the risk of getting stroke, heart attacks and some types of cancer.
As useful as honeybees are, they can be nasty because they sting. I remember back in the mid '90s, there was a swarm of bees that used to occasionally invade a bridge near my hometown of Kiserian. And whenever the bees invaded the bridge, they would make it impassable. But some people would outwit the bees by walking across the bridge with their faces covered with a sheet.
One afternoon back in those days, I happened to be heading to Kiserian when I found the bridge full of bees. I must have been an unwise small boy because I strolled towards the bridge. And lo! The honey bees descended on me and stung me mercilessly on my face. When I went back home with a swollen face, Uncle Ndonga teased me that I looked like a boxer.
I heard through the grapevine at my primary school that some farmers got rid of the honeybees that used to invade the bridge by blocking their nests with mud. As to why the farmers did so, considering the benefits of honey bees, is something I don't understand. There ought to have been a wiser way of dealing with the bees.
We were fortunate to have an abundant swarm of honeybees on our farm in the '90s. They had created a nest for themselves in a small cave in a certain tree on our land where we used to graze cattle. And I can't recall anyone in my family getting stung by them. Our only shortcoming was our lack of skill in practising bee-farming to produce honey for sale and for home consumption. When some of my family members harvested honey from bees' nest in an unprofessional way, the bees fled from the tree. To this day, more than twenty years later, the honeybees have never gone back to that tree.
Fortunately, there are some honeybees that have settled on another section of our farm in the past several years. This time, my family - led by my senior brother Bob Njinju - are trying to practise bee-farming by harnessing honey from the bees. A few months ago, Bob hired a carpenter to construct five beehives that were placed on that section of the farm where bees are.
Because the bees are yet to occupy the beehives that the carpenter made for them, Bob bought last Thursday a type of wax that smells like honey with the intention of using it to attract honeybees to the beehives.. He melted the wax and applied it on one beehive for a start. Then he instructed our farmhand to place the beehive on the farm at night to minimize the risk of being stung by bees.
That Thursday night our farmhand took the beehive to the farm, I heard him joke to Mum that people could mistake the beehive he was carrying for a coffin. Hearing him say so made me explode into laughter. Then I added in Swahili, "And people would get scared and run away from you!"
I found that joke so funny that it had me in stitches for the next ten minutes or so. It also reminded me of another joke I heard some years back of a thief who stole a coffin one night at Lang'ata Cemetery in Nairobi. When a policeman saw the thief carrying the coffin and confronted him, the thief replied, "I was buried at Lang'ata Cemetery and I didn't like resting there. So I am moving to another place." That reply must have frightened the policeman out of his wits. Or what do you think?
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on a joke that had me laughing, you might also enjoy another story I wrote sometimes back on "Laughing Like a Little Child". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.