Community Advocacy on Environmental and Social Justice

Friday, 20 February 2015

Tragedy of White Nile River: Politics,Land,Climate Change in South Sudan.

By: Gabriel Makuei Tor, JUBA, 

The natural resources in South Sudan (S.S.) have been defiled, so stop 
singing the “virgin land” song, like “a baby nation” clause in the 
mouths of S.S. corrupted officials. In our times when we were kids, 
way before 2nd civil war kicked in between South and North Sudan, over 
30 years ago, there were rare cases of sickness and natural death. 

Though we were drinking right direct from the rivers and rain waters, 
we still remained healthy than a kid living on the same today, but 
those days were true in their own style than these days! 

So what happened? What has changed? To answer these questions, you may 
have your own answers but let’s read through here below: 

You heard of the climate change; the religion of the 21st century. 
That everything we use has an effect and limitation, even the sun and 
the waters of the Seas. The air, soil and water are being polluted by 
human activities globally and here is looking through S.S. windows. 

The picture here below, shows trash being incinerated (burnt) in the 
stream that leads into the Nile River and not far away from the main 
river. The stream’s greeny far left has water that is use for 
irrigating crops planted by the River bank. 

The land of South Sudan is not virgin and the loss is being continued. 
Some of the land destructions are natural, whereas most of the impacts 
are man-made. Burning fires and waste dumping are playing a part. 

If the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans could be polluted by a coal 
power plant running in India, China, or elsewhere, then you know, 
River Nile is nothing to escape the change. No land is immune of 
hazardous emissions (the deposit of dangerous waste and exhaust gas). 

Some recent past research by the scientists had shown that people in 
the US State of Alaska have been contaminated by eating fish caught in 
the Pacific Ocean with mercury contaminants in its body. Some heavy 
metal like mercury are found to might have migrated to the US from 
Indian’s coal power plant operated in India; through smoke that is 
containing mercury. 

The smoke mixed in and formed a cloud and the cloud came down in the 
form of rains, falling into the Ocean, where fish live as home and 
feed in. The fish is contaminated and when eaten by a person, then the 
person gets the mercury toxic contaminants known for destroying human 
nervous system, causing major illness or permanent disability in 
humans. 

When pregnant woman eats the fish with a level of toxicity in it, the 
fetus may be harmed, which could lead to death before and after birth 
or a child born with deformities (life disabilities). 

The mercury for example, is found in plastic bags and water bottles. 
The picture here is of the River Nile tributary, not far from Juba 
airport and passers have used it as a dumping ground. See water 
bottles … 

White Nile tributary (Right) by the Juba airport (left) is seen used 
as water bottles’ dumpster. These pictures were taken in summer (Feb. 
2014) when the tributary was dry, when it rains, it washed all these 
trash into the Nile – where they remain as sediments. The black, blue, 
red and green colors you see on the left side are from planes’ tails 
at Juba Airport. 

Juba Trash in Tragedy 
You heard of people disappearing in cities like Juba. There are those 
being taken by crocodile, hippopotamus or other unnamed dangerous 
aquatic life. These are accidents, but there are people who 
disappeared without trace of being attacked by the wild lives in the 
Nile River or elsewhere. 

Other disappearances are blamed on the killers, who kill people and 
throw them into the river. There is nothing good in human eating 
human. Those who drink and bathe from the White Nile River may be 
eating other humans in the form of water usage, because of those dead 
bodies being thrown into the Nile. 

When the body degraded into waters of the White Nile; the water is 
contaminated, making it unclean for human purposes, including domestic 
animals, since they do not feed on human flesh. 

That is pollution. And this is one of the reasons why people are 
getting sick more frequently than in the past. 

Mid-Night Dumping (Illegal Dumping). 
Passing in downtown Juba, you will see piles of trash as high as 5 to 
6 feet high by and above some complex fences in Juba town. The trash 
is not getting dumped to where it is supposed to go. The stagnant 
garbage piled up close to some offices, homes and traffic routes, will 
carry its pollutants around in town and people will catch it and get 
sick later. 

Some midnights dumped garbage is found on the Juba–Nimule Highway, on 
the road side, right before you cross the bridge and this is in 
Kony-Konya area of Juba. Besides, the trash could be seen dumped at 
less than 200 feet from Juba–Nimule Highway in the Nasitu area by the 
road side. 

I had seen some solid waste sitting by the river bank, next to the 
crops planted by the Nile River bank in Juba. Some garbage, by the 
streams that run into the Nile River when the rains fall, during the 
wet season. 

The trash on the road side which many travelers had seen on numerous 
occasions, would get flown onto the neighboring homes and public 
areas, when the wind blow, while the trash by Nile bank goes into the 
river, where fish could be contaminated with hazardous waste (e.g. 
medical waste) deposited into the River. 

When the contaminated fish is consumed by humans, people get sick and 
start seeking medical care. You might have seen people doing the same 
that are done in Juba being carried out all over the country South 
Sudan. 

People are washing cars into the Nile as well as washing their bodies 
and clothes during the bath with soaps. This activity must be 
considered illegal and dangerous to do so. 

The use of soap and other related agents into the Nile River is 
unhealthy because of the nature of toxicity in them. So why wash dirt 
and chemicals into the pure water of the Nile to contaminate it? 

There are ways for people to designate areas for washing and bathing. 
Cars have aerosols – some hazardous chemicals from car’s parts and 
fuel apparatus are considered contaminants. Garbage should be dumped 
at a faraway landfill from homes, low laying grounds and away from 
waterways. 

Water Bottles and Cans 
Water bottles, plastic bags and soda cans are being thrown anywhere, 
anyhow in Juba and other towns. Water bottles and soda cans look like 
cattle egrets behind fences and in open spaces in Juba town. This is 
not a good start for modernization or industrialization. 

And you do not tell me “baby nation is still waiting to crawl. “A day 
is more than a month” according to South Sudanese saying and the 
country existed as Free State for more than 10 years!! 

Can we control our waste to protect our environment? Konyo-konyo’s 
town ground is covered with water bottles and soda cans deposited over 
the past years. Could this be cleaned? 

The danger of mismanaging bottles and cans is that they don’t 
biodegrade, per an organization known as “Water Project”. According 
this same report, water bottles and soda cans do not break down and if 
they do decay, it took 1000 years for bottles and cans to break down 
and mix with soil. 

Long time indeed, no one would want to wait that long, but the right 
waste disposal and management would do. 

What are the ministry of environmental services, health and other 
educated South Sudanese residing in Juba, Nimule, Wau, Malakal, Bor, 
and other localities, doing to protect their natural resources, their 
environment (the water, land and people) from being polluted from 
imported goods?? 

All kinds of batteries from Automobile and electronics equipments 
carry toxic chemicals like mercury and cadmium among other toxicity 
ingredients. 

Forest Combustion during the Dry Season 
Burning the forest or few bushes is welcome by many cultures as forest 
“renewal and change” – with fire considered as “nature’s housekeeper” 
but this practice could be disastrous. 

The fire can clear the forest for passage; get rid of old parts and 
plants, but it takes away the most fertile part of the land – the top 
soil is burnt to ashes: Fires killed humus and other nutritional top 
soil ingredients. 

When the top soil that is rich with dead plants and animals is gone; 
the land is not productive for agriculture, grass growth for cattle 
grazing and this could make the burned land or forest incapable of 
replenishing itself. 

Fires destroy wild animal’s homes and lives – no country with 
responsible leaders and scholars would want to see their wildlife gone 
forever. This could lead to wildlife extirpation, or extinction. 

No one would be willing to see the wild animals in his/her home areas 
getting all killed or displaced to neighboring countries, where they 
will never return when they find peace there. 

Most of the South Sudanese burn their regions’ forests and grassland 
down, during the spring and summer seasons. The smoke from fires 
carries exhausted gases, hindering oxygen flow to all kinds of people 
and blocking sun light from hitting the earth. 

In this case, people with asthma and children have their breathing 
airways made so hard for them to breathe well, due to forests fires’ 
smoke, and fine particles floating in the air. 

The way to prevent this harmful practice is to make forest combustion 
illegal, unless it is absolutely necessary to burn the forest. South 
Sudan forest management must act now in regard nature integrity and 
protection. 

The few details expressed here are not the only impacts to South Sudan 
environment, but a few of enormous environmental issues of concern. 
Healthy environment means healthy people. This picture shows how the 
Nile is utilized as well as abusing it. 

Please, Keep Nile River Safe and Clean. If the Nile waters are 
polluted, the fish, land and the crops would too be polluted, among 
other natural resources, since it is the same Nile waters that serve 
the land and its production, either by the rain, irrigation, or flood. 

By GMT 
Author contact: maku...@yahoo.com 
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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania, forebearers of an ancient East Africa Empire

The Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania, forebearers of an ancient East African Empire…?

Vast areas of Kenya and Tanzania bear Maasai related names, a sign that the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania were once the dominant community in East Africa. For instance, Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is drawn from “Enkare Nairob”, which means “Place of cool waters” in Maasai. Mt. Kenya is “Eru Kenya”, meaning “Snow from Laikipia”. Nakuru, Kenya’s third largest city, is also a Maasai name.

Then across a vast length and breadth of about 1,000 kilometres and 800 kilometres respectively, transcending both Tanzania and Kenya, are numerous locations that have either Maasai names or Samburu names. The Samburu of Kenya are close kin of the Maasai, and the Maasai and Samburu converse with each other without much difficulty.

The Maasai/Samburu names of key locations that spread across both Tanzania and Kenya include Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa’s highest mountain, Mt. Oldonyo Lengai also in Tanzania (“Oldonyo Lengai” incidentally means “Mountain of God”, meaning that there are two “Mountains of God” in Tanzania, because the Maasai also alternately refer to Mt. Kilimanjaro as “Oldonyo Lengai”), Uasin Gishu, Olduvai Gorge, Narok, Kajiado, Nanyuki, Nyeri, Namanga, Magadi, Kiserian, Rongai in Nakuru, Rongai in Nairobi, Laikipia, Ol Moran, Transmara, Oldonyo Sabuk and Amboseli.

The distance between Olduvai Gorge in Kenya and the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is about 1,000 kilometres, in between which are several locations with Maasai and Samburu names. The distance between Nairobi and Nakuru is 200 kilometres, while the diagonal distance between Transmara and Laikipia is about 800 kilometres. One interpretation of this can be that the Maasai reigned supreme in East Africa from about AD 1,000 to about AD 1,500, when their power, clout and influence began to gradually wane, as has indeed happened with all other Empires in history.

Indeed, it must have been the Maasai who put a stop to the epic northwards 19th century Ngoni migration from South Africa, that proceeded unhindered through Botswana, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, a distance of about 3,000 kilometres, before the Ngoni migration came to an abrupt halt in Tanzania.

The Maasai, like the Greece and the Greeks, are not seemingly the mighty ancient Empire that they used to be, but they still feature prominently e.g. the first Kenyan Medical Doctor was a Maasai i.e. Dr. Jason Likimani, while the first Kenyan Veterinary Doctor, Dr. Joseph ole Tameno, was also a Maasai.

Interestingly also, independent Kenya’s founding Premier and President, Jomo Kenyatta, from Kenya’s Kikuyu tribe, also dropped his initial surname Ngengi, in favour of the name Kenyatta. “Kinyatta” is a beaded Maasai belt, which for some reason, greatly fascinated Jomo Kenyatta to the point of inspiring a change of his surname. Even Jomo Kenyatta was sufficiently awed by the heritage, legacy & legend of the Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania

Saturday, 17 January 2015

MT.KENYA MOUNTAIN UNDER MERCY OF MULTINATIONAL LOGGERS.





The 2010 Kenya constitution, chapter five stipulates the foundation of human rights is anchored on clean and healthy environment. Unfortunately in Tharaka- Nithi County bordering Embu County lies the snow capped Mt.Kenya Mountain second highest in Africa,located along the equator, Chuka town lies in a section of the larger Mt. Kenya forest which is known for its birds sanctuary, wildlife, splendid flora and fauna, streams of river and the century old trees, around the center of the mountain in 1997 was designated as a national park and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since time immemorial conservation efforts have been embraced by the indigenous forest community, on the other hand government Forest Officers in charge of national park and the larger forest have been plagued by widespread corruption activities, inefficiency, political servitude, low  standards of professionalism, mass production of "bhangi"(cannabis), massive charcoal production within the forest and logging of indigenous trees has flourishing unhindered over the years.



An urgent outcry by Chuka community is last year licensing/ harvesting of about 40 acres of indigenous forest by the Kenya Forest Service to well connected cooperate entity, hundreds of  community members have severally objected to such anticipated massive forest destruction  Ironically, a  court case filed by community failed to grant sound precautionary measures against such injustice and on 18th December the court orders which had barred the giant saw milers from harvesting the trees were waived and or vacated. This left the community with only one constitutional option, physical protection of their resources. They have been camping in the forest ever since last week when 15 of the 50 people patrol night shifts were arrested. The 3000 member group has been keeping watch in turns to prevent the loggers from accessing the forest.

Provoked.
By Friday 9th, January the community had prior knowledge that the forest officers had embarked to their old corrupt habits of liaising with loggers at a huge pay. A section known as Gituabugi is currently being destroyed under the supervision of senior forest officers based in Chuka station.
In Mitheru forest location logging is back to normal after the orders were vacated. And now we are sure that the 5 saw millers are ready to harvest the entire region as we have information that they have purchased enough man power and equipments.

Notification.
The community has vowed to do all it takes to prevent such rudimentary and barbaric actions that lead to a degradation of ancestral resources. Where does the future of our environment lie? We are calling upon well wishers, friends and those that can and care for our environment to join the Chuka community in this struggle against corrupt government agencies that care less about our environment.

By yesterday all the eighteen arrested forest defenders were released on a surety bond of  Ksh 50.000 and the 15th one took plea yesterday past 24 hrs constitutional  requirement period, this was through the intervention and efforts of area Mp Muthomi Njuki and civil society members.
They were charged with being in forest without a license.

An impromptu meeting by the entire community after their release resolved that after their release they will return back to the forest for the same purpose, filing a constitutional interpretation on the charge at a higher court , filling an appeal for the earlier matter that lifted orders of preventing loggers from cutting down forest trees in the 35 acre plot. On Sunday all members resolved to pray at Mugumo wa Nyenje(religious site) deep inside the forest and continue on hunger strike until the government will listen to them. On19th Jan 2015 afternoon friends of Atiriri Bururi and East Africa Climate Change Network will be visiting them at Magundu for solidarity.







Photos:                                     

These are some of the arrested defenders in prison and after being released on bond. Am requesting your team to accompany us to Meru for a audit public forum in the morning and in the afternoon a visit to these gallant worriers and defenders of forest.

Report by.
-Kenneth Kirimi
-Patrick Kamotho
@EaccNet