Grand Ma, what has changed?

By Monica Mbugua, Kenya

I asked my grand ma to tell me about her life as she grew up and how different it was from the way she see’s life now. Her face lite up because for her it was a nostalgic feeling that brought up a happy memory.

Some of the things she remembers is that the weather back then was a lot cooler and more pleasant than it is now. She enjoyed every changing season because with it would come lots of excitement for the period it lasted. It was either planting time in the farms or harvest time or a time to wait for certain type of fruits both wild or in home compound. Sadly things are no longer the same. First she noted she can hardly predict if the rains it will be enough to help the crops or if it will be too much to destroy them.

Heavy reliance on agriculture

Sadly for many farmers in Kenya both small scale and many large scale farmer; really heavily on Mother Nature to take care of their crops in terms of the rain. Majority have not yet learnt to harvest water and use it for farming. Hence my grandma reference to unpredictable rainfall patterns. She is a retired teacher who now does small scale farming to keep busy and also to get some of the traditional vegetables. Her parents relied heavily on farming so they could educate some of her siblings and feed them too. During weekends and school holidays they would help out in the farm at home.

She added too that she went to British colonial school where part of the school curriculum was basic agricultural skills and they would each have small vegetable gardens to tend to during the school term.

Higher food prices, medicine herbs extinct, new diseases

Unfortunately she told me in recent years it has become rampant to watch on news and also experiences prolonged drought in many parts of the country and continent or heavy down pour that sweeps away all her crops or homes of other people. Leading to food prices shooting off the roof leaving many hungry and unable to fend for themselves.

They got their medicine from the forests. She would go to her grandmother or mother when she would fall ill and they would boil some dried up leaves and dry barks of some trees to get herbs and medicine that was quiet effective in treating normal day illnesses and infections.  Some of those trees are now extinct because most of them were cut down for human settlement or for commercial farming.

The rivers and streams were so clean in her time they used them for their daily consumption they did not have tapped water. It was unheard of in her time to hear of water borne diseases. Some of those streams and rivers no longer exist and the few remaining ones are very highly polluted.

Gifts from the planet as things of the past?

She thought out loud and wondered how life will be for the next three to four generations because she fore sees a life where we are self distracting. As much as life is easier and much smoother for us now due to lots of technology she does not see how our planet will survive in the next 100 years to come. Some of the gifts we get from our planet will become things of the past.

I was left to ponder on that and to ask myself how we can make a difference before it is too late.