PLUNDERING OF VIRGIN TROPICAL FORESTS
Mother Nature is alpha and omega of life; the terrestrial deity. As alpha, nature is the giver of life at the moment of fertilization and sustainer of the same in existence. As omega, nature terminates the life of the living organisms. Death is preordained as an ecological balance. The fecundity of the Mother Nature is the presence of water. Water pre existed on earth before living organisms came to be. Water is the essence of life for the existence and sustainability of all living organisms. Water revives life in Mother Nature.
Man has the duty of conserving and protecting the environment for the survival of the ecosystem. Hebert spencer and Charles Darwin have used the metaphor "survival of the fittest;" more accurately, "the survival of the fit enough."
On the Eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya, stretch out extensive virgin tropical forests. The aerial view gives one a wonderful photographic canopy of beauty and splendor compared to the naked Sahara desert. The rains are timely and reliable. Hence, trees thrive quantitatively in abundance. These 'clothe' the landscape by thus saving it from what would otherwise by the "naked earth". The density of trees in virgin tropical forests is an adornment of the Mother Nature.
Our forefather lived on the forest periphery. The arable land was potential for agriculture as a result of rich volcanic soils and sufficient rainfall. Our ancestors were endowed with great aesthetic minds that loved, reserved, conserved and protected the environments for the survival of humanity, flora and fauna. For them, life was "sacred". Virgin forests were "sacred," meaning "set aside" or "reserved" for a purpose of reverence. Virgin forests inspired awe and fascination. The triple words, "sacred", "awesome" and "fascination" are descriptive of virgin forests that are revered as "shrines". Virgin tropical forests are not "shrines" of worship but "shrines" that provide humanity with medicinal herbs and streams. The"shrines" are also reserved as the limbo of domain for the wicked spirit of the dead.The Provident Father in the heavens benevolently makes the rains descend generously. The rains revive the fecundity of the Mother Nature. Trees thrive abundantly. Trees are revered for their power of healing. Roots, barks, leaves and fruits have the power to heal sickness and restore health. Our primogenitors
conserved and protected forests because they are the source of streams that join together to form rivers. Wanton destruction would result having a naked earth with no medicinal herbs, and dry river banks.
Europeans scrambled for colonies in the "dark continent" south of the Sahara. The British immigrant's flocked into Kenya led by Lord Delamere no sooner than it became a British colony in 1920. They grabbed and occupied the arable lands in the rift valley and the slopes of Mount Kenya. The choice was characterized by three geographical factors; rich volcanic soils, timely, reliable rainfall and cool temperate climate. The lands occupied by the British settlers and farmers came to be known as the "white highlands." In food production, the "white highlands" constituted the "Granary" of the whole country . The new comers, like our fore fathers, knew the importance, value and meaning of preserving and protecting the virgin forests.
Since the time of colonization, the colonial government maintained virgin forests intact and untouched. The foreigners went a worthy milestone. Formal education placed emphasis on the importance of protecting virgin forests both for cultural heritage and boosting tourism industry.
In 1972 UNESCO adopted the convention concerning the protection of world cultural and natural heritage. The traditional values of conserving and protecting the environment were endorsed by UNSECO. The intention of conserving and protecting the environment is not only meaningful to self but the intention is also of consequence meaningful to the world beyond self.
Three presidents, Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki have held power since independence in 1963. Kenyatta regime lasted 1963-1978. Dr William Liujpen states in his book on existential phenomenology. "Freedom is a project. The project which man is is equiprimordially the project of his world". Man's project in the world is the environment. Greed for wealth was
a culture in its toddling stage. Trees in the virgin forests, once intact and untouched provided raw materials for the mushrooming timber industries. The sale of indigenous trees became a lucrative business. Virgin forests were deforestated and virtually stood naked with no indigenous trees.
Moi regime lasted 1978-2002. The regime is notorious for corruption. The culture of greed for wealth and land grabbing reached its maturity. Plundering and looting of virgin forests continued unchecked. The scam of lumbering was a government project. Professor Chinua Achebe says in is book , No Longer at Ease "The African is corrupt through and through".
The president focused his eyes on Mau forest. He grabbed thousands of hectares for large scale tea farming. Supporters of the regime were generously rewarded with forest land .Squatters too rushed in for settlement. The water catchment environment had adverse effects. Water volume in rivers decreased significantly. Rainfall was less than normal. Persistent droughts brought famine to a people who used to have bursting granaries. The marginalized pastoralists were hit worst.
The corrupt regime of Moi caused Wanton destruction of the environment. History took a new dimension. A great woman of charisma, insight and inspiration came with redeeming solutions.
Professor Wangari Maathai, an environmentalist emerged at the most critical moment of internal decadence. The professor founded Green Best Movement. The target was conserving and protecting the environment. The youth were inspired to do the good that serves not self greed but the good for the protection of the environment. Enthusiastic youth heeded to the call. 600,000,000 trees were planted. Wangari Maathai was honoured with the Nobel peace prize in 2004.Service to others has its own reward.
Kibaki regime lasts 2002 -2012. The regime came to power determined to protect the environment. Professor Wangari Maathai entered into politics; successfully, she won the parliamentary seat. The president appointed her an assistant minister for environment and natural resouces.Deforestation of virgin forests became a closed chapter.
The land issue featured prominently after the 2007 post election violence. Kofi Annan arbitrated in the talks. An act of parliament came into force. Big fish and squatters were legally forced out of Mau forests. Tree planting is currently on progress. Maathai, the Nobel Laureate hopes planting one billion trees to protect the environment from climate change and desertification