The Home Coming: Giving Trees and Forests a Voice

By Soko Directory Team / April 1, 2019




Sometime in the year 1980 year several events occurred that would eventually shape the narrative of forest governance in Kenya.

In one of the Nairobi suburbs, a boy would be born and christened Claude Bernard Muthee Kamau. According to his mother, he had a way with people even from a tender age. There is this particular incident where a young boy from the neighborhood would come in his pajamas in the morning to their home and wait for Bernard who would be at school until late afternoon. He would turn out to be a gregarious outgoing, good looking and brilliant legal mind.

Around the same time in another suburb, a young under grand, in the Veterinary Department of Nairobi University, also known up upper Kabete, would have an encounter with Prof. Wangari Maathai. Quoting from a book he has co-authored he writes “Prof. Maathai taught my histology class between 1979 and 1980. During this time she was involved in environmental matters in ways, I neither knew nor could have understood then”.

In the same year, Prof. Maathai would be turning forty, she had been in a small village in the then Nyeri district. Following an efficacious academic journey, she had joined the University of Nairobi’s Department of Veterinary Anatomy and History as a lecturer on 1st Of April 1969.

As these events were unfolding she had been at the university for eleven years.  Some fifty years later, only a week to the day, we would converge at VET Lab Golf Club which is within by the University’s Upper Kabete Campus complex.

On this occasion we were launching the first ever, paperback publication to come out of Prof. Wangari Maathai Institute of Peace and Environmental Studies (WMI) titled “Forest Resources Utilization, Livelihood and Conflicts” FRULC.

She had eventually left the University in 1982 to pursue politics and environmental activism and her illustrious political and environmental career was eventually crowned with The Nobel Peace Prize which she won in 2004. Her work through the green belt movement had allowed her to get involved both with the grassroots actors as well as academia.

In mid-2008, conversations started with the university on how she could use her vast practical experience and gravitas to inspire the students. She shared on how she found a disconnect between the quality of graduate students and the field of study they were expected to work in.

“When she hired graduates at the Green Belt Movement, she realized they lacked appreciation of the reality of nature, environment and people, all of which were necessary for them to succeed in their employment. Thus she saw the need to have interdisciplinary approaches espoused in the University through an institute” (F.R.U.L.C).

In December 2009, this dream came true when the Nairobi University’s Council established the institute, forty years after she had first joined university. Her vision for the institute was to train transformational leaders who would bridge theory with practice in the fields of peace and environmental governance and its linkages with democracy.

The occasion was both an auspicious and solemn one, because  although Prof. Maathai’s spirit had finally come home, the death of Bernard Muthee five years earlier would also be commemorated and here they would be in communion. Prof. Raphael Wahome who had been in Prof. Maathai’s 1980 class and one of the founder professors of WMI was here to bear witness to this convergence of spirit.

Bernard had quit a promising career in law only eight years into practice to become an advocate of the environment and join a short list of doctoral scholarship beneficiaries of the institute in mid-2012. He had suddenly become obsessed with environmental law and governance as if the spirit of Prof. Maathai was upon him. Completely immersed in his studies he challenged and engaged his fellow scholars on governance matters, indeed this is what Prof. Maathai had envisioned, an interdisciplinary meeting of minds. Unfortunately, he passed on in late 2014 one year to the expected date of his graduation. In certain ways, his life had mirrored that of the professor both intellectually and emotionally.

As we converged to launch the publication, the output of years of research by scholars from different disciplines and coordinated by two universities, University of Nairobi and University of Copenhagen and with contributions from The Green Belt Movement, Kenya Forestry Research Institute(KeFRI) and generous funding from DANIDA the spirit of Prof. Wangari Maathai was indeed finally coming home.

The book was the climax of a project which along the way had benefited communities and actors around forest resources within the Mau Complex though training and interventions. The beneficiaries included; KFS, KWS, NEMA, Local Authorities as well as Community Forest Associations. The book also makes a raft of policy recommendations for containment and prevention of future forest resources related conflicts.

This got me reflecting upon my own life and the kind of legacy I would like to live behind. What kind of inspiration would others would draw from my life and what sacrifices would I need to make to achieve this? Indeed life is both a personal and communal journey and this my readers is the second lesson of leadership; that of building a legacy. The journey will be long, audios, uncertain at times and fraught with barriers, ultimately it will all fall into place in the fullness of time.

The Author is Zachary Kamau, Corporate Trainer, and MC. Reach him through [email protected]


About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system.Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

View other posts by Soko Directory Team


More Articles From This Author








Other Related Articles










SOKO DIRECTORY & FINANCIAL GUIDE

ARCHIVES

2019
  • January 2019 (256)
  • February 2019 (216)
  • March 2019 (285)
  • April 2019 (254)
  • May 2019 (272)
  • June 2019 (211)
  • 2018
  • January 2018 (291)
  • February 2018 (219)
  • March 2018 (278)
  • April 2018 (225)
  • May 2018 (238)
  • June 2018 (178)
  • July 2018 (257)
  • August 2018 (249)
  • September 2018 (256)
  • October 2018 (287)
  • November 2018 (284)
  • December 2018 (187)
  • 2017
  • January 2017 (183)
  • February 2017 (195)
  • March 2017 (207)
  • April 2017 (104)
  • May 2017 (169)
  • June 2017 (206)
  • July 2017 (190)
  • August 2017 (195)
  • September 2017 (186)
  • October 2017 (235)
  • November 2017 (253)
  • December 2017 (266)
  • 2016
  • January 2016 (165)
  • February 2016 (165)
  • March 2016 (190)
  • April 2016 (143)
  • May 2016 (246)
  • June 2016 (183)
  • July 2016 (271)
  • August 2016 (249)
  • September 2016 (234)
  • October 2016 (191)
  • November 2016 (243)
  • December 2016 (153)
  • 2015
  • January 2015 (1)
  • February 2015 (4)
  • March 2015 (166)
  • April 2015 (109)
  • May 2015 (117)
  • June 2015 (121)
  • July 2015 (150)
  • August 2015 (157)
  • September 2015 (189)
  • October 2015 (170)
  • November 2015 (174)
  • December 2015 (208)
  • 2014
  • March 2014 (2)
  • 2013
  • March 2013 (10)
  • June 2013 (1)
  • 2012
  • March 2012 (7)
  • April 2012 (15)
  • May 2012 (1)
  • July 2012 (1)
  • August 2012 (4)
  • October 2012 (2)
  • November 2012 (2)
  • December 2012 (1)
  • 2011
    2010
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    2001
    2000
    1999
    1998
    1997
    1996
    1995
    1994
    1993
    1992
    1991
    1990
    1989
    1988
    1987
    1986
    1985
    1984
    1983
    1982
    1981
    1980
    1979
    1978
    1977
    1976
    1975
    1974
    1973
    1972
    1971
    1970
    1969
    1968
    1967
    1966
    1965
    1964
    1963
    1962
    1961
    1960
    1959
    1958
    1957
    1956
    1955
    1954
    1953
    1952
    1951
    1950