By LUSUGA KIRONDE, 21st October 2011 @ 13:00, Total Comments: 0, Hits: 1266
IN 1977, I met a Sri Lankan lady who had an unusual habit. She loved trees. She would get excited at the sight of a large tree. She would photographs it, talk about and even find information about it.
I must admit that habit became addictive and I became a convert to tree-loving. Why should trees, especially the indigenous ones, be cut? Logs look like corpses to me. A famous lover of the environment and specifically trees, Professor Wangari Maathai, was cremated and buried on Saturday, October 8, in Nairobi.
Naturally the Sunday Press was devoted to this event attended by the top personalities in Kenya. “Goodbye Wangari”, ran the front page headline in the Sunday Nationalist (October 9). There are insights into her life and her struggles.
We are told, on page 3: “Her former husband ‘with whom she divorced’ in 1979, joined their three children and other mourners for the ceremony”. Now divorce means separating. Can you really “divorce ‘with’ somebody”? You divorce ‘from’ somebody.
Thus in the case of the late Professor: “Her former husband ‘from’ whom she divorced in 1979….. was at the ceremony”. We are further told: “Although she was not known much for religion, in the book (i.e. her autobiography) she had bemoaned the loss of African cultural and worship practices to missionaries.
She had connected it to profiteers who cut trees without regard for the environment”. She was right. For most traditional cultures, the environment was holy. Forests, rivers, wetlands, mountains, trees, you name it, were revered. In some cases, god resided in them.
But today Africans have lost those aspects of their glorious cultures and have joined their mental colonisers to disrespect and therefore loot the local environment which they no longer regard as holy. We are all suffering the consequences.
On page 4 we are told of some of her many convictions: “She had a concern for the plight of rural ‘woken’ (read: women); she single-handedly fought the construction of a 60-sotery building on Uhuru Park (read: 60-storey building); and she clashed with the government over conservation, ‘god’ governance, and respect for human rights”.
This concept of “god governance” is interesting. Was the writer thinking about God; as happens too often when we are dealing with death? Perhaps, but more likely than not, he/she was thinking of “good governance”, characterised by, among others, respect for the rule of law, transparency, justice and accountability.
May be we should all vow to plant say 100 trees each in the honour of Professor Maathai. We should all vow to respect the environment and nature. And, as for the Sri Lankan lady, Suvi Sundaram, I hope she is somewhere in her country planting trees and fighting for the preservation of the environment as Professor Maathai did in her life. RIP.
***** EVEN when the good depart from this world, life has to go on. The Good Citizen (October 15 p. 24) features the story of another woman who is described as “a mother who dispenses medicine”. She is 43 years old, had 6 children (bravo!) and has been separated from her husband, sadly through death, since 2004.
She fights poverty through selling traditional medicines from plants. She started doing this “with the encouragement from close relatives, and savings from her husband’s ‘benevolent’ fund”. My contention is that the writer did not have “benevolent fund” in mind. Rather he was thinking of the lady’s late husband’s benefits from a “provident fund”.
Benevolent means kind and generous, but “provident” is related to the careful and sensible way of planning things especially by saving money for the future. We wish her all the best in her endeavours.
***** IN Kampala, Uganda, attempts to resume the “walkto- work” protests are having to contend with the strong arm of the government. “13 arrested as ‘walk to work’ protests resume in Uganda”, reports the Good Citizen (October 18, p. 13). An eye witness narrates what happened:
“As our members walked out of the offices, they were rounded up by unknown people who we believe were ‘plain cloth’ security officers” ….. “the police later detained others who ‘went’ to look for their relatives at Jinja Road Police Station”.
They are “plain clothes” security officers (not “plain cloth” … officers). Those who were arrested at Jinja Police Station should be described: “three others who ‘had gone’
(not ‘went’) to look for their relatives”. This is because by the time they were arrested, the action of their going to look for their relatives had been completed.
A police spokeswoman said: “'Some of' those arrested ‘include’ HK, AM, SS, MM, ZM, and MW”. The phrase “Some of” is irrelevant since its meaning is implied in the verb “include”. Thus we simply say: “Those arrested include …..” Please always remember to plant a tree!
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