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Of Travelling and Garissa

Guest Post: By KOSAR

The trip itself can be treacherous.

What else can you call a journey that takes at least five hours? Well beyond the outwardly obvious lies a journey of contrasts. Not the good and bad contrasts that society and Hollywood are obsessed with, but contrasts in how mother earth can influence man and what he can achieve. To most it may be seen as just any other journey, take a seat, read a newspaper, snooze a bit and walk out into the street. But to different people it’s a chance to look deeper in what man has achieved over the years, how man has been able to adapt if we may say to what nature has thrown at him. Is it choice or is it chance? Why do we decide to live where we do? Should man be blamed for trying to live with the consequence of his decisions? Or is the grass always greener on the other side?

Garissa is a county that lies to the east of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. To the average Kenyan, it’s a semi-desert region with little to offer, land that is virtually useless as an agricultural asset, a place whose residents are not particularly known for academic excellence, no mineral reserves to talk about-yet, and little to offer in terms of political leverage. They say ‘kitanda usichokilalia haujui kunguni wake’ a Kiswahili saying that loosely translates into ‘u wouldn’t know of bedbugs until you sleep in that particular bed’. Well, imagining someone else’s situation is but one of those things that cannot be quantified, its thus very difficult to ask for and even harder to what degree the subject has immersed himself into the concept. Objectivity seems abstract but achievable. Keeping this argument in mind, why do people live in Garissa then?

As you travel from Nairobi, the road gets narrower-two way to a one way road just past Thika. Having endured the madness that is Thika Road renovation project the less travelled by road that is Thika-Garissa highway is a welcome relief. The view outside the window is fantastic, green rolling land-pineapple plantations, the imposing Kilimambogo hill and fresh breeze through the open window. Good things they say don’t last. The view is no different. The green fades into yellow as the bus goes through what was previously known as Eastern province, the road gets bumpy and the air gets warmer.

Mwingi comes to the rescue to offer the travelers some warm food and refreshments. Twenty minutes later and the ordeal is repeated, only that the view gets even worse and the air gets warmer, no-very hot. As the bus tumbles towards Garissa, the first time traveler may be tempted to ask. Why did the people choose to live in an area that is clearly very unfriendly as regards to what mother earth has offered? Is man truly capable of such resilience? And why don’t they migrate to land that is more habitable?

Garissa answers some of these questions.

The main town center

Lying near the Tana river, water is not a problem-well it should not be. There is a dam that provides hydroelectric power to the residents-the picture is surely incomplete because there is no such dam and the people use their own small generators to curb the constant black-outs. There is a tarmac within the city centre that surely looks out of place-like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle. However, business is booming in what seems like a residential town. The construction business is well advanced, most of the workers being supplied by the neighbouring Eastern province. It’s a case of the people’s own will triumphing over apparent government negligence. Is there a good reason why people should endure all that? Most of the residents will say that it does not make sense to run. You may or you may not agree.

Is there hope though? With the passing of the new constitution and the nod given to the county mode of government then it will be interesting to see if Garissa County will rise as did Saudi Arabia a few decades ago. If minerals are found within the region will it drive it into chaos as it did many African countries? Is there hope, really? Be the judge.

Ear worm: Why dont you and I

                     By Carlos Santana ft. Nickleaback

Categories: Uncategorized
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