I was in shags earlier this week visiting a tree project that my late dad and his brothers began about seven years ago. I had two conflicting thoughts as I planned this trip. Will this open up the pain of losing my dad even more? or will it bring him back to life in a sense? I’m glad I went because that trip took me into my mzee’s world one more time. I felt closer to him.
Let me give full disclosure here. There were two other hidden agendas for the trip upcountry. First, I was longing for some alone time for no clear reason. I think my personality is changing. I have always been a certified extrovert. Now I’m behaving like an ambivert, a pal recently mentioned. Change is the only constant in life. Secondly, I was passing by one of my favourite locations in Kenya, Nanyuki in Laikipia county. Every time I’m headed towards Nanyuki I get excited as I approach Mt Kenya. That mountain affects me in a way that’s difficult to explain. Seeing her (though she was very shy this time round) calms my inner world and speaks to me in ways I can’t explain. Kuna vile… as Kenyans like saying.
I even had a chat with my camera on the way to Nanyuki about how we both hoped she (the mountain) would remove her cloudy mask and allow us to capture her smiling down at us. Sadly, she was moody that day and we only caught a foggy glimpse of her. The sun compensated for that. Nanyuki was warm and sunny for most of the time I was there. It felt like I was thawing from the Nairobi fridge. It’s been quite cold and I was reluctant to return to the city.
Going to shags was a full throwback. I got flashbacks of when we would visit my grandparents during the school holidays. I could almost hear the noise of my cousins and siblings as we played and climbed Plum trees to harvest red plums which were in season every Christmas holiday. My granddad would be seated in the front yard pulling his beard with one hand and holding a small round yellow comb with a mirror on the other. I always wondered how he didn’t feel pain pulling his beard hairs one by one. His fingers were his shaving machine.
The homestead is now in a sorry state as hardly anyone visits. Dad and his brothers came together and decided to do something about that, at least on the farm side. They started a tree project to give their family a reason to come together. This was way back in 2014. They decided to plant eucalyptus trees that take about seven years to mature and hence visit this week.
I picked my uncle (Dad’s elder brother) from his home in Nyeri and proceeded to the project Tetu constituency. It was special spending time with my uncle because he reminded me so much of my dad. The way he talked, his body language and his expressions. Even how he ate was just like dad. That made me miss my mzee more but I also felt like I had spent time with him through his brother. I also got the sneaky feeling that I gave uncle a chance to connect with his late brother through me. We both had therapy. The moments that count in life.
Dad’s legacy is alive and will continue. The trees that he and his brothers faithfully tended to are a testament to that. As I walked through their three-acre forest I imagined how proud dad felt visiting and seeing the progress made. I remember times when he would excitedly remove a calculator and work out how much money they will make. We now hope to sell the trees and use the proceeds to improve the lives of the greater Marang’a family and bring them together. DM me if you are looking for some good timber.
Life is meaningful when we do stuff that outlives us. Being in that forest with my uncle reminded me of a quote I came across, “if your absence is not felt then your presence was not necessary”. Getting involved in a project that outlived my father confirms that his presence was necessary. May we live life with an eternal perspective.
A life that starts and ends with us is a short life both in impact and maybe even in actual days lived. Once we sell the trees the plan is to replant others. That way I give my children and their cousins the opportunity to do the same and keep the family bond together… through tree planting. The late Wangari Mathai was once our member of parliament so maybe that’s why the tree thing runs deep hehe.
PS: Few slots remaining for our upcoming halftime roundtable. See the poster on my website (www.lucasmaranga.com) for signup details.