Pay Kenyans who suffered for collecting firewood

Kakuma Refugee Camp

A woman walks home carrying a pile of firewood on her head at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Turkana County in this picture taken on June 15, 2018.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • First they slapped the food we eat with taxes, but Kenyans kept quiet because they were not food.
  • They have now come for our cooking gas, and we have to defend the right of Kenyans to cook with gas.

We began this month with news that isn’t good for our heart. The Finance Act 2020 couldn’t wait to be given the powers to visit Kenyans, and when it did, instead of bringing us food, it raided our kitchens and slapped us with heavy tax for using cooking gas.

Kenyans have always known that we are in a complicated relationship with our government. We give them money every time they ask for it, we even take them to the salon for their image to look good abroad, but every time we ask for something in return, we are reminded to take one patriotism tablet three times a day until we die.

Had our founding mothers known their great grandchildren would be treated badly by their government, they wouldn’t have left their revolutionary dreadlocks to treat themselves when they could afford to chill in village salons while sipping aloe-vera juice. 

Kenyans are asking President Uhuru Kenyatta to clarify whether he still loves the environment more than Christ loves the Church after announcing his government would ensure Kenya attains the minimum 10 per cent forest cover in a bareknuckle climate-change war.

We have seen the Ministry of Environment posing with innocent tree seedlings before digging them into the ground and asking them to smile for the cameras while they’re being watered.

The ministry has proven that it’s possible to fight Covid-19 and climate at the same time.

Die of cold weather 

All these afforestation initiatives by the government are about to drink water. If refilling a gas cylinder was proving to be a daunting task before, the new Finance Act has now ensured only those who are on talking terms with money will afford cooking with gas.

If the government thought Kenyans were going to die of cold weather now that we have refused to let corruption kill us, we have news for them. Kenyans are here to stay. We are going nowhere. We shall go to the nearest forest and start negotiating with them for firewood supply, and we know the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers will understand because they also can see it’s the government that has pushed us to the corner and we’re only left with the energy for hunting and gathering firewood.

But if KFS officers arrest us for invading forests and send us to jail, we shall sing freedom songs like Paul and Silas in the Bible, and those gates of jail will open because we serve a living God and he promised not to forsake us when the government comes to kill us.

We want to encourage the government not to panic when they see Kenyans reuniting with nature. The police exist to serve every Kenyan regardless of the colour of their shirt collar or arrangement of their teeth, and we shall be asking them to provide a toll-free number where we can call for a police ambulance in the likely event those collecting firewood are attacked by wild animals.

We anticipate an increase in human-wildlife interaction but we are comforted by the news that our MPs increased the kitty for compensation for human-wildlife conflict, and we hope the Wildlife minister shall not find it offensive when he’s asked why he likes shielding wild animals who violently attack Kenyans innocently collecting firewood to go cook for their children.

First they slapped the food we eat with taxes, but Kenyans kept quiet because they were not food. Then they came for those transporting the food but we didn’t defend their right to a decent working environment because we don’t own food trucks and only see their riders on mobile apps.

They have now come for our cooking gas, and we have to defend the right of Kenyans to cook with gas because if we don’t speak out, cooking gas won’t defend us when we start going to the forest to collect firewood and get attacked by wild animals.

The writer comments on topical issues. [email protected]

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