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Why Musangi never benefits from farming

More than 4 billion years since the Big Bang sired Tseikuru soils, her residents have few or nothing to be proud of. With the current famine ravaging the great Kenyan North, my people have not been spared. 

Greengrams and cattle on sale in Tseikuru Market, Kitui County.

An ignorant fellow could argue that even our ancestors used to go hundreds of kilometres to beg for food from Mutindwa, currently Meru County. So, what is the use of technology and other civilization advancement over those 6 or 7 decades since the birth of Kyonze wa Karunga?

According to the Kenyan constitution, every citizen is entitled to reasonable standards of sanitation and clean and safe water in adequate quantities. It further stipulates that every Kenyan has a right to be free from hunger and to have adequate food of reasonable quality. Going by these statements, it is clear that either guys from this sub county are not Kenyans or maybe, just maybe, someone somewhere does not regard them as fully fledged citizens.

In all honesty, Musangi is still struggling. In 21st century, mothers, women, girls and boys have to trek for tens of kilometers in search for water sometimes with malnourished donkeys? Tana river which has over 6 functional dams, meanders along our soils, is there no way to tap this great resource to the benefit of our brothers and sisters?

Search for water

How much does it cost to drill a borehole in at least every region where there is a primary school to help the locals within that locus? Or is it in our DNA that since majority are Akamba we must stay away from water so that, we always have that event of going to fetch water? Why are our people afraid of settling near water bodies or availing this resource for themselves? Is there a deliberate attempt to keep locals under water scarcity so that they do not think of anything else except search for water and food by extension? Could this disaster be a good riddance for some people especially cartels and politicians?

Interesting statistics has it that almost 60% of the Tseikuru population is literate, at least to class 8 or form four. It must be noted also that the main motivation why these guys went to school was not solely to attain education. If anything, if you bring about this question about biggest motivation to attending school, majority will mention that availability of relief food by the government made them attend the school without missing. From Maziwa ya Nyayo, Katongelele, Muteleku, Mbiinzi(minji) and Uji ya Kibaki “muturumbu”. That notwithstanding, it remained hard for the parents who were out of age of being a primary school kid to get the privilege of enjoying late breakfast and lunch for at least the school days when the term is open. Majority of households manage only single or 2 meals a day during hard times.

During hard times the populace survived on Ng’amba and Nzanawa.

Since the rainy seasons are not reliable, many locals always risk planting early so that the crops are sufficiently watered by the rains. This is always a big gamble, bigger than betting on Sportpesa. A parent will invest more than 200 kilograms of seeds that is either borrowed or was conserved for consumption just to try their luck of hitting a jackpot of bumper harvest. Many times, it ends in premium tears. In the event that the rains do not disappoint, parents who are privileged to have various number of children enjoy free labour from their relatives during planting and harvesting.

Myethya are also very valuable during these communal works period. Many households rush to sell their harvests in order to meet all other needs that require financial solutions. Ndakithi (green grams) the most common cash crop which goes for KSh 150 to KSh200 per kilogram during planting seasons drops its value to as low as KSh 25 per Kilogram when harvested.

Obviously, it is not only about supply and demand that determines the prices of poor farmers from my area. Cartels have hijacked our local market to make sure they get the Ndengu at lowest prices, put them in large containers all the way to Mombasa port for export at very fair deal. Most likely above 2 dollars (KSh244) per kg.

Same case applies to livestock.  In Tseikuru, the surest rite of passage especially among children is herding/ndithya. Many locals can show you childhood scars tattooed on their skin during their herding days. It sometimes used to be fun due to company. However, I don’t feel that the farmers from my region get value for their livestock. Kitui County prides of having Tseikuru as the largest market which attracts even Wameru, Watharaka, Borana and Somali for this exchange which contributes a lot during revenue collection. The prices at which goats, sheep, donkey and cattle are purchased there on Thursdays is very ridiculous. Throw away prices. You will hear a brokers chest thumbing on how they easily triple the prices after acquiring them cheaply at Thaisu-Tseikuru market.

It is a shame. I think we can do better as a society. It is more of a policy framework issue. Someone had used Ndengu Revolution big lie as a campaign tool trying to get a gubernatorial post, of which she secured but since then it has remained a hot air balloon. It is also important we conduct civic education to the populace on getting value for our products. Standardization of prices for these hard gotten products could protect Musangi from prey by conmen, cartels and opportunists. If not, the same vicious cycle will keep on appearing we will end up living by this Kyamututa proverb: Tukatindasya kyaa muthiti tuumanza nzooko ya mbeu!


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