Caring For The Environment
A True Story
on Aug 25, 2020
When I was in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre, it was a rule that all first-formers in the school be in bed by 9.30pm on weekdays. So on my first days in the school back in early 2002, I took the initiative of switching off the lights in my dormitory at exactly 9.30pm. A prefect noted my initiative and recommended me for the Starehe Boys' Environment Club. Thanks to his recommendation, I was selected to be part of the club.
Joining the Starehe Boys' Environment Club turned out to be a positive experience for me. We the environmentalists (as members of the Environment Club were called) used to meet every Sunday after supper in a debating room that was next to the school library. I remember with nostalgia the issues we would discuss and deliberate on during those meetings. Issues such as switching off lights at the stipulated times, turning off running taps to conserve water, picking up trash on the school compound and taking care of a botanical garden that was out of bounds to all students save for environmentalists.
As a result of those meetings we had as environmentalists, I became even more fanatical about switching off lights. I would ensure all lights in my dormitory were off at 9.30pm on weekdays and at 10.00pm on weekends as Starehe rules demanded. And I did that not for want of any reward but because I felt it was the right thing to do.
One weekend night in 2002, I almost got into trouble with a certain prefect in my dormitory. I would switch off the lights in the dormitory and he would switch them on. Even though I can't recall who between me and the prefect won the tangle, I do recollect threatening him that I would report him to the Lion, as the captain in charge of the environment was called. I didn't report him though.
Serving as an environmentalist at Starehe had such an impression on me that a few months ago when I threw an orange peel out of the window of my room, I felt a twinge of guilt run through my spine. I quickly castigated myself and resolved to be dumping waste materials in a dustbin. And that's what I have been doing.
It seems that I was not the only member of Starehe Boys' Environment Club who picked up life-long lessons on caring for our surroundings. While walking on a street in Nairobi City one morning in 2010 or 2011, I ran into James Muhia - a fellow environmentalist during our Starehe years. I had a short cozy chat with Muhia that morning. And when I reminded him of our time in the Starehe Boys' Environment Club, he informed me that he still doesn't pass by litter without collecting it.
How I wish everybody was like Muhia! Especially after observing how some people dump things in public places without giving a hoot about the consequences of their actions. A few weeks ago for instance, I saw a driver drink a packet of milk as he was leaving a petrol station in my hometown of Kiserian. After he was done drinking the milk, he shamelessly threw the packet out of his car window and continued driving to wherever he was headed. I thought to myself that that was something very foolish of him to do.
Then the other day, someone dumped what looked to me like baby diapers on the side of a road leading to our home. And the dumped diapers weren't two or three or four. They were about twenty!
I don't know what would prompt someone to shamelessly throw a packet out of a moving car or dump about twenty baby diapers on the side of a road. Is it due to lack of quality education such as the one I got at Starehe? Or is it because of the other garbage in our environment?
You see, my younger brother Symo once shared with me an insightful observation he had made that garbage attracts garbage. His point was that if you are in a littered environment, you would feel no remorse in leaving rubbish on it. But if you are in a very clean and tidy place, you would be ashamed to add trash to the place.
Coming to think of it, maybe that kind of dumping rubbish on the side of the road is a problem prevalent in Third-World nations like ours because I have heard from folks who have travelled to the developed countries comment on how attractive their environments are. A few years ago, I read in a newspaper of a Kenyan who travelled to America. And when he came back, he said this of America, "It is very clean!"
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on caring for the environment, you might also enjoy another one I wrote more than three years ago on "Forswearing Foolish Ways". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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My Fascination With Airplanes
A True Story
on Aug 20, 2020
Ever since I was a small boy, I have always been obsessed with the idea of flying in airplanes. Back in 1994 when I was seven, I loved visualizing myself flying all day in a plane. And whenever I travelled to Nairobi City in those days, I would bubble over with excitement on seeing small aircrafts at Wilson Airport. I really was fascinated by airplanes.
Fortunately, I had a chance to fly in an airplane in 1996 when I was nine. And in case you are curious to know how that chance came about, let me explain.
Well, my father used to work with Kenya Airways in the 1980s. When he resigned from the company probably because of poor pay, he was offered a golden opportunity to be flying for free in a Kenya Airways plane once every year together with his wife (my mother) and two of his children, provided the children weren't over eighteen. So every year during April school holiday, my father would pick two of us (his children) for a trip to Mombasa, a city in coastal Kenya. In April 1996, he picked me and my eldest brother Joe Kagigite for the trip. And that's how my first chance to fly in an airplane came about.
During that April 1996 trip, we flew to Mombasa and back to Nairobi in a mid-sized plane called Fokker 50. And even though I was thrilled to fly in an airplane for the first time, I didn't feel particularly proud to fly in a Fokker 50 since the plane resembled the small aircrafts I used to see at Wilson Airport. My desire was to fly in a commercial jetliner such as an Airbus A310.
In April 1999, my father picked me again for the annual trip to Mombasa together with my brother Bob Njinju. This time, we flew in a commercial jetliner as it had been my desire. I however didn't note the make of the jetliner we flew in. (It must have been an Airbus A310 in those days when Kenya Airways used to have Airbus planes in its fleet.) All I remember is that I enjoyed the trip so much that I fondly missed it the following day and wished I could have a similar opportunity in the future.
The following year, in April 2000, my father picked my brothers Bob Njinju and Paddy for the yearly trip to Mombasa. But Paddy declined to go for the trip and instead chose to report back to high school at Starehe Boys' Centre because the day of the trip coincided with school opening day at Starehe. So my younger brother Symo took the place of Paddy on that trip to Mombasa. And Mum didn't go for the trip that year, for she was recovering from a heart surgery she had undergone a few months before.
I heard that when Dad, Bob and Symo flew to Mombaa in April 2000, some complications arose that necessitated them to make the return trip in a bus instead of an airplane. Probably due to those complications, my father didn't fly to Mombasa in the year 2001.
Come April 2002, I was firmly sure my father would pick me for the annual family trip to Mombasa. At that time, I was a Form One student at Starehe Boys' Centre where my immediate elder brother Paddy was also schooling. So obsessed was I with the idea of flying again in a jetliner that I would spend many minutes over that April holiday gazing at the planes flying above my home-area and imagine myself riding in them. Unfortunately, my father also didn't take us to Mombasa that year. And the strange thing is that I never mentioned to him about my burning desire to be in an airplane again.
Actually, my father never took us to Mombasa again after the year 2000. The complications that arose in April 2000 discouraged him from taking advantage of the golden opportunity he was awarded by Kenya Airways to be flying in its planes for free once every year. But that didn't diminish my fascination with airplanes. During my adolescent days and well into teenage years, there were times I would drool over pictures of an Airbus A320 that were in a colorful Airbus prospectus I found here at home.
I still have in my room that Airbus prospectus which I have gone through a number of times in the past four years. And I also occasionally gaze at the planes that fly above my home-area. (I think the planes usually come from Western Europe and the Middle East.) The fact that I still admire airplanes in a prospectus and in the sky above my home shows that I am as fascinated by airplanes now as I used to be when I was a boy.
Interestingly, despite my fascination with airplanes, I have never longed to be a pilot. My desire has just been to be a passenger in a jetliner. That's all. It is a desire that I will strive to fulfil before I depart from this grand and magnificent planet. So help me God.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on my fascination with airplanes, you might also enjoy another one I wrote two years ago on "How a Trip Helped Me." Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.