Mr President, accept my turkeys: Woman gifts Uhuru birds for tarmacking bad road

Ms Lilian Kali, from Mikinjeni village in Bamba ward, who has gifted President Uhuru Kenyatta 10 turkeys for the tarmacking of the Bamba-Mariakani road.


Photo credit: Maureen Ongala I Nation Media Group

In President Uhuru Kenyatta’s last State of the Nation address in his first term, when he made a strong case for his re-election in 2017, he mentioned the Mariakani-Bamba road in Kilifi County.

He laid out the achievements of his administration, peppered with case studies and a reference to a song about long hours of travelling on the eternally bad road in Kilifi, which has since been tarmacked.

The classical Giriama song, “Safari ya Bamba ni Machero” (We will travel to Bamba tomorrow), Mr Kenyatta said, should now be “Safari ya Bamba ni Rero” (We will travel to Bamba today).

For many locals, the tarmacking of the 51km road was godsend.

Ms Lilian Kali, from Mikinjeni village in Bamba ward, is one such grateful beneficiary of the road project.

In 2005, her mother, Nyevu Kirimo, suddenly fell ill after developing post-delivery complications.

“We rushed my mother to Bamba Health Centre but she did not get treatment, forcing us to go to Mariakani Health Centre. But on our way, it started raining heavily and the vehicle got stuck,” the 36-year-old told Nation.Africa.

As the weather worsened, they had to carry her for at least three days to get to Mariakani Hospital, a journey of about 40km.

“It took us three days walking to the hospital while carrying my sick mother. But she was weak and died before receiving any treatment,” Ms Kali recalled.

But that was not the end of their troubles. The hospital also lacked a functioning mortuary and the family had to return home with her body to prepare for burial.

After getting the necessary documents from the local authorities, they started their journey back home with the body on a makeshift bed.

“We started trekking, mourning as we carried our dead mum on the muddy and bumpy road and in the rains, and it took us four days to get home in Bamba,” she said. 

“The body was decomposing, and no one wanted to move close to her. Even some family members stayed away. Her body was stuffed in a polythene bag and then hurriedly buried.”

Ms Kali said her mother’s painful death and the trouble the family underwent was a reminder that good deeds should be rewarded.

Because of the tarmacking of the road by the Jubilee government, Ms Kali has gifted President Kenyatta 10 turkeys worth Sh100,000.

Construction of the road started in 2016 and was completed the following year.

“I swore to myself that if there would be a person, no matter where he or she will come from, who would construct the Bamba-Mariakani road, then I would buy livestock and gift them for saving the community,” she added.

“I was engaged in the charcoal business to get money. Out of the sale of 50 bags, I made enough money to buy the small turkeys which I started to rear. I told God to protect the turkeys so that I could give my gift to the President for the road project.”

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Photo credit: Maureen Ongala I Nation Media Group

If the road had been in good condition, she said, she would not have lost her mother.

She said members of the community can now travel easily to Mariakani in rainy seasons.

“It seems that plans to construct the road were in place for many years, but it only lacked someone to implement the project, but here came President Uhuru Kenyatta, who made it a reality for the people of Ganze,” she said.

She has requested the President to pick up the birds from her Bamba home before his term ends.

“A turkey is a proud bird. I like the way they swing in pride when they see a person. I did not want to buy a goat because maybe he eats goat meat every day. A turkey is a unique bird to gift someone of his stature,” said Ms Kali.

Her father, Kali Ziro Wanje, supported his daughter’s gesture and called upon President Kenyatta to accept the gift.

Mr Wanje, a long-time truck driver, said he married his late wife in 1974 and had 11 children.

Three out of the 11 children died.

“My wife developed asthma and was taken to Mombasa for treatment. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and the doctor asked me to find money for her treatment. Since I did not have money, she used to go to Bamba for minor treatments,” he said.

He said that sometimes they spent one week ferrying charcoal to Mombasa due to the bad condition of the road.

Mr Wanje said his wife was sick for a long time and by the time he saved some money for treatment, her condition had worsened. She could not survive for long and succumbed to cancer.

“The road was pathetic. It was raining and it was difficult for us to take her to hospital and bring her body back after she died. Her body was decomposing when we reached home,” he added.

He said he was disheartened but decided to remain strong.

Little did he know that his daughter had something in mind.

“After the turkeys matured, my daughter approached me and disclosed that she had vowed to give them to anyone who would construct the road in honour of her late mother,” Mr Wanje said.

He added: “I was happy when my daughter said she wanted to gift [Mr Kenyatta] and I have no objection. I love him because when I hear him speak, he sounds like his late father.” 

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