A Quick Visit to Mau Forest – Sarah Kutahi
The first time I heard about Mau, my adrenaline pumped to levels that only allowed me to compose songs I would sing with any kid I came across in this foreign land.
It was Saturday the fourth day of June – the day I had long been waiting for. Dressed in all black, with a sweater tied around my waist, sunglasses on my forehead and a hat in hand, I arrived in the unfamiliar territory.
I booked my spot on the floor where mattresses were laid by other campers and left to explore the community. That evening I spent my time making acquaintances with the locals, among them a village elder, who also introduced himself as a lover of peace. Simon was his name. He warmly welcomed me to his home together with a few other friends. They learnt about the culture of the host community, the Ogieks. My friends and I were welcomed with honey and meat, which I later found out were the staple food of the community.
As the storytelling was going on, Simon presented us with moratina the local brew, which was surprisingly sweet and tasted like fruit. However the local brew was meant for special occasions and was only taken by wazee in marking the day, thus, I was only allowed two cups.
On Sunday, the following day, the cold wind in the midst of the rising sun caressed my skin as I made my way through the thick forests in search of the unknown. The walk exposed me and my peers to a staggering effect with tantalizing sceneries of valleys and landscapes I never thought had a place among the tranquil greenness of the shrubs.
The young Environmental enthusiasts in the company of Forest gurus struggled to retain composure at the sight of gigantic trees with a variety of shapes. Hoping and jumping over streams became the norm of the day for us, which made it clear to me as to why the Mau is referred to as a water tower; streams emerged out of nowhere thanks to the rate of underground seepage that occurs in places with proper tree cover.
For someone who lived in the big industrialised city of Nairobi where fresh air only existed in fantasies, Mau was a sight for sore eyes. With epiphany I remembered all the articles I had read about the Mau, I remembered it being called the largest of its kind in the whole of East Africa, I remembered it being called the backbone of the country, I remembered it being the main supplier of water into the major city including my not so beloved Nairobi where the population grows unprecedentedly.