As Kenyans, we are losing our culture. Because children nowadays don’t know how lucky they are. They don’t know what it means to go on a long journey, to go to ushago. Nowadays they are either on a 40-minute flight, a quick drive, a shuttle or on they are on the Standard Gauge Railway. They don’t know the joy and pride of travelling with chicken, goats and sheep in one vehicle, and then have them on a plate the next day.
Some of them go to ushago every other weekend. They don’t know that those journeys were mostly taken during Easter, and Christmas Holidays. And that they were planned for years in advance. They can’t comprehend the things our freedom fighters endured so that we can buy airtime without having it deducted.
These young ones, you can drop them in the middle of their village and they can get lost for 13 hours. They probably don’t even know ushago used to be called Reserve. But the biggest place where we are losing our culture is at the meal table. Specifically when it comes to chicken and chapati. In fact chapati has been so much abused, it is being sold on the streets, kiholela holela. My friend, in my first 24 years Chapati was seen only when it was necessary. There would be an announcement and a poster on the notice board saying,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
This is to notify the general offspring in this household that the management has seen it fit to provide a meal of chapatis one week from now, on 13th of April 2019.
This is to further remind you that mealtimes in this household will be at exactly 7:30 PM and everyone is entitled to two and a half chapatis, subject to terms and conditions while stocks last.
Kindly take in under advisement that the management reserves the right of admission to the dinner table if you come dressed inappropriately or if homework has not been finished. In such circumstances, we shall not be held liable in case of loss.
But where we are truly losing our culture, is in the area of eating chicken. There are an estimated 31 million chicken ready to land on a meal table in Kenya, currently. And the need is growing. That is why children of nowadays think chickens grow on trees.
As at the year 2000, there was no more than an estimated 6 million chickens in Kenya. You could easily find hundreds or even thousands of eggs before you could secure one live chicken. People used to book for their December chicken in January. At the turn of the year 2010, the population had grown to about 20 million.
Chicken is probably the most consumed meat on Kenyan tables. Whole restaurant chains find their survival in chicken. Chicken rearing is the hope for many. Chicken, it seems, can be a good sustainable source of income and lifeline for many families, in Kenya.
That it why Baraka Vision Women group thought, and knew, and they wanted to actualize it.
When Baraka Vision Women was started in Marura, Nanyuki, they knew what they wanted was to be able to empower and support the whole 15 of them. And they did not need to look far. The success of women groups saccos in Kenya is an open secret. In Kenya, Saccos hold more than 10 Billion in assets, from meagre resources. And saccos exist for each and every reason. To buy each other plates and cutlery, to furnish houses, to buy plots of land, to take care of ageing parents, to building mansions and to start and build businesses. Baraka Vision women were well on their way to achieve their dreams. Saccos had driven families from abject poverty, into glorious wealth and financial stability that could only be a dream.
As their name suggests, Baraka which is Swahili for blessings, the group sought to not only to bless each other but the entire community at large. And it was telling. The unpredictable climate of the Marura Swamp area, where they mostly come from, is semi-arid. This renders over 65% of families in the area at risk due to lack essential amenities like food and water due to the semi-arid area climate.
The Baraka Women group knew all too well that if they could rear chicken, and train the community to do so, they could possibly eradicate poverty. They could school their children, they could feed them, they could cloth their families, and the community would benefit from it all.
Besides, chicken rearing requires several people working at different levels per farm. And as such, they would be creating much-needed employment. They were willing to take up the challenge. It seemed a daunting task. And it was. Chicken rearing is quite resource intensive, and needs structural organization before the first chick comes home to roost. From their meagre savings and income as individuals, this was in the plan, maybe, but it would be a long time coming.
That was until Salome Ng’ang’a, the chairperson of the Baraka Vision Women applied for the Safaricom Ndoto Zetu Wish Fulfillment, on behalf of the group. Ndoto Zetu responded with an overwhelming community donation of Ksh. 250,000/= to start them out.
They bought 720-day old chicks and 30kgs of chick mash chairs to get them started. Because the women are very determined, when things go according to plan, they are assured of a consistent monthly income for the 15 families and their community at large, bringing an estimated return of close to Ksh. 500,000.00 per family annually. That means school fees paid, home and medical needs sorted, proper sheltering, community development, among other social issues.
Chicken consumption was mostly dependent on the seasonal demand, but not now. But even if it were, when the demand is low, the Baraka Women can comfortably supply the demand for eggs in the community. They can also sell chicken manure to the surrounding fertile counties of Nyeri, Meru and others.
If you ask the Baraka Women what comes first between the Chicken and the Egg, they will definitely tell you it is the community that comes first for them.
In the good old days, chicken was a delicacy that was enjoyed on occasions, but now, more than ever, consumption is a lifeline for many. And the Baraka Women group in Nanyuki will help the community around them deal with needs in their families, and the general community.
Paul Otieno is a Creative Director and Storyteller in Creative Writing, Photography and Film. He and his partner, have 3 girls, a 4-year-old and her two years old twin sisters. He says he is the Father of the Dragons. You can find him on all social media platforms as @Paushinski or find him on his blog, www.paushinski.co.ke