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IT IS JUST COLLABORATION

Queenship of Mary Kanyanga Parish is located in the diocese of Chipata; it takes about three hours’ drive from Chipata.  It consists of two religious communities: the Missionary sisters of Immaculate Conception and the Comboni Missionaries, who work hand in hand reaching out to the Christians for first evangelization. There is commitment realized from sisters who have clear pastoral activities; pragmatically Sr Ravaka is the pastoral coordinator, the  Parish secretary and in charge of Holy Childhood.   Sr. Lucy reaches out to the sick with communion and works in the hospital which is run by these sisters, and sister Jackline is in charge. It is clear that the Comboni community plays a key role in evangelization. They are committed in empowering catechists,  animating Christians in outstations and serving all in the spirit of love.  This is seen through cooperation with the Catechists and the sisters.

Community life is unique, simple and easy to learn from the members.   It is a vast, edifying Parish, rich in culture and traditions that makes one feel at home because of the warm heart of the people, hospitality, respect, peace and love which are the easily noticeable values.

It goes without saying that collaboration among people is key purposely to support and treasure each individual as a gift to the community (mostly during funeral/Nyifa). The Parish is run in the spirit of a family, where each member is given a chance to express what he/she feels is good for the contribution and progress of the entire Church. There are, in this respect, groups within the parish that foster the vitality of the Church. These are: St. Ann, Holy Childhood and the youth. The three groups animate the Church, do charity and reach out to fellow Christians within the communities.

Specifically, the youth play a key role in reaching out to fellow youth with the spirit of the Gospel, ‘that all may be one’ (John 17:21). They have clear goals set. Consequently, they evaluate all they do, seeing what they have realized and finally, celebrating their achievements.

In short, like a body that depends on other organs to function well, so are the Kanyanga groups. Their future plans can come to implementation, fulfillment and success when there is genuine support, formation of catechists, pastoral formation, clear and well followed timetable and finally, speaking with one voice enhanced by the priests. While in the Parish, ours was not to entirely capitalize on weaknesses but to learn from the parish. We saw it as progressive in nourishing the faithful.

BY JUSTUS OSEKO MCCJ.

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“YOUNG PEOPLE, THE FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT”.

It has been said, and rightly so, that young people are the future of the Church. But if one contemplates on the existential reality of the world today, one will not end without wondering at how fast materialism is taking hold of the lifestyle of most young people. With the growth in science and technology, without forgetting the largely individualistic tendencies of those who happen to control the world’s resources, it is increasingly becoming easier to meet many needs of life, and much so the material needs, to the extent that the pastoral approach of priests and missionaries working in today’s realities has to change in focus and methodology from building infrastructure, like schools and hospitals as in the past, to teaching people, especially young people, how to use material things, starting with the body, for God’s glory and not for self-glory.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the environment in which a person grows up often has a great impact on a person’s lifestyle, which is an outward expression of what goes on inside a person, that is, what a person thinks, desires, imagines and believes in. In other words, a person who lives in an environment that feeds their thoughts, desires and imaginations with things of God will most likely choose a life that is oriented towards God. Similarly, a person who lives in an environment that feeds their above faculties with nudity, pride, selfishness, greed for money, and anything opposed to godliness will have their life oriented towards just that which shapes their inner person. Put in the language of vocation, this can be best expressed by Pope Benedict XVI’s theme for the World day of Prayer for vocations of 2010: “Witness awakens vocations”, and the opposite is true: “counter witness kills vocations”. However, at the end of the day, whatever lifestyle a person lives, willing or not willing, life itself teaches lessons which are necessarily a reminder that whatever we are and have has a beginning, a source, God, to whom we ought continuously to turn to so as to find the right meaning in all that we are and possess.
It is not therefore by chance that Pope Francis chose the above theme for this year’s reflection by the synod of Bishops in October. Young people, being the future of the Church but at the same time the most vulnerable target of the Church’s enemies, need guidance and direction. In fact, the Pope invites all the Catholic fraternity, and indeed humanity at large, to ‘accompany youth in their existential path towards maturity through a process of discernment so they can discover their life goals and realize them with joy, opening themselves up to an encounter with God’ (National Catholic Reporter).
Good news is that God is always in control and working in us even when we seem not to see it. In every group of people, in a family, school, hospital or whichever workplace we happen to be, there is always an outstanding and special gift that God has given to each person which others do not have, that can always be a tool for discernment and a source of hope and joy for the human family. One person may have a charming smile, another a soul-soothing laughter; one may be a good listener, another a good speaker and so on, and all these are needed for responsible parenthood, priest hood, consecrated life and even the single state. Nevertheless, discernment must be done in order to discover not only in which state of life these gifts may best be made use of together with the other gifts a person has, but also where one may best be helped to grow in one’s weaknesses without ‘breaking down’, so to say.
Thus, rather than focusing on the overwhelmingly discouraging situation of our world, let us focus more on becoming aware of the gifts and talents that God has given to us and ask him to guide
us in using them humbly, joyfully and perseveringly, and help us to be open to learn from others and from life itself so that witnessing to his love for us by word and deed we may in turn help young people to discover the gifts and talents that God has given to them and accompany them in making choices that will bring these treasures to the right and permanent joy-rewarding use, for the service of God, in the married life, priesthood, consecrated life or the single state, according to the movements of the Holy Spirit and each person’s response.

 

 

BY AUGUSTINE EPIERU MCCJ

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

COMMUNICATORS FOR MISSION

The media has a vital role in the prosecution of our mission, especially in promoting missionary animation and justice, peace and integrity of creation – a commitment that emerged only in the last years

In this text, I would like to state that our work in the media is “a precious inheritance,” from our Founder – a media-minded person – who availed himself of the means at his disposal to bring mission farther and reach virtually a greater number of people.

Comboni, a great communicator

St Daniel Comboni was a great communicator. He believed in the power of information and, all his life, he used his eloquent words – spoken and written. Whenever he was in Europe, usually to recover from his infirmities, he would not miss the opportunity to travel and meet as many collaborators, friends and benefactors as he could to inform them about the misfortunes of Africa, his tireless efforts to alleviate its misery, and to stir their faith and generosity. He even had programmed a trip to America in 1871 to ask for aid and for Black missionaries to help him. He was stopped by the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, Cardinal Barnabò, afraid that Comboni would channel, to Africa, funds that were sustaining the Roman offices.

Besides, he would use pen and paper – the means at his disposal in the XIX century, because the telegraph was invented only some years after his death – to promote mission awareness, make known his work in African soil, and raise funds to support his projects. Every day, he would write many and extensive letters in different languages. Let me to give just two examples. In May 1871, he confided to the Bishop of Verona, Msgr. Luigi de Canossa, that he had written 1,347 letters in the previous five months. In another letter, while talking about his multiple commitments, he mentioned that he had “more than 900 letters to write.” During his life, he wrote thousands of letters.

But his “lively and diligent correspondence with Europe” included many papers and magazines which multiplied with the spreading of the printing press after 1820. In a letter to the editor of the paper Libertà Cattolica, he stated: “I have to write all the time as a correspondent for 15 other German, French, English and American journals which send me fine sums of money. In Italy, I have relations with nearly all the Catholic papers … as well as my own Annali del Buon Pastore in Verona, which is a quarterly.” The latter became the prestigious Comboni magazine Nigrizia. Its first issue came out in 1872 and was the first of the Comboni magazines which define also our way of doing mission.

Comboni had an encyclopedic knowledge and was interested in all matters pertaining to Africa – people and their vicissitudes, history, geography, fauna, flora, discoveries, exploratory expeditions, customs and culture, trade, development… He wrote chronicles about his trips, ethnographic, geographic and biographic articles, historical essays and, especially, annual reports about the progress of his mission and asked for prayers and financial aid. It seems he believed in the power of communication as much as in the power of prayer.

In addition to writing, he read and subscribed to a great number of Italian, German, French and English periodicals, especially, Catholic papers. The reason he gave was: “because I want the Institutes and the many establishments I direct to think properly today, and I thank God that they all do.” In his Writings, he mentioned more than 40 papers and magazines. One wonders how, in the middle of his strenuous labors, exhausting trips through sickening swamps and scorching deserts, he could still have time to read and write so much.

The means of transportation then were the camel and the steamer. One can only imagine how the great mission animator, Daniel Comboni, would use modern means of communication, especially phone and Internet, to communicate in real time and how he would put electronic media at the service of mission promotion and evangelization!

An unavoidable challenge

Mission is communication – mainly of our perception and experience of God. Besides, we communicate what we are, the experiences we make, the work we do. There’s no communication without contents – otherwise, that is pure entertainment! The missionary is a communicator. The quality of his communication depends on the quality of his experience. The words may be poor and the technique may be inadequate, but the message would certainly get across.

On the other hand, communication is mission. The media are simply a tool – ever more indispensable and precious. Our mission is a source of beautiful stories – or should be – with which we touch people and help to create a better world. Some involvement in the social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is not enough. Besides, we should remember that our more or less sophisticated gadgets (cell phones, computers and cameras) should not be so much for personal enjoyment but for the service of mission. 

The Congregation’s involvement in the media – “a precious heritage” – is faltering. In the 60s, we were ahead of times in missionary animation (using slides and Super 8 projector machines); today, we are clearly behind the times. The world evolved but we didn’t. More and more, we find it difficult even to keep the existing magazines. Not enough personnel have been prepared for the job, not mentioning the challenges of the new media. The shrinking personnel calls for strategic decisions in key sectors, such as in this multi-faceted areopagus of the mass media.

News – more than any other journalistic genre and in another context, sermons – have the power to change people’s way of thinking and mobilize their will to do good. Therefore, it is not easy to understand the Congregation’s reluctance in committing more people and resources to the media sector. Surely, our mission at the service of the Good News of Jesus deserves much more courage and dedication.

BY FR. JOSEPH REBELO COMBONI MISSIONARY

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

WHAT A JOY TO BE RECEIVED !

Receptivity and hospitality are essential values for a community.  On the 30th of August 2017 six of us {new brothers} were officially received at St. Daniel Comboni Scholasticate Pietermaritzburg. It was a joy filed occasion for all of us, first and foremost to witness the Comboni community as a cenacle of apostles;living together not in isolation. Secondly, to inspire each other with God given gifts as to witness the love of God to each other. Our refectory was filled with music, jokes and jubilation. It was a wonderful and indeed a meaningful day; full of sharing, nourishment and inspiring moments after meals and the Eucharistic celebration.

 

What a joy to be received by others

What a joy to be integrated in the community

What a joy I say!

Again what a joy to be awaited for!

 

It is like a bridegroom waiting his lover

Without knowing where she will come from!

He remains in his room waiting!

Hoping to realize a wonderful visit

 

Everywhere he sees policemen

Walking, walking carefully

To see what happens to others

Fear! For the interruption of the visit

 

At a moment, a boy is ready!

And he is like watchmen

Opening his eyes to see the world

That he may be alert, suddenly he sees full light!

BY SCH. MUMBERE   KAPITULA MUYISA

 

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

A JOURNEY FOUNDED ON GRACE AND GRATITUDE PART II

Important moments in my formative journey

I consider each stage on my formation journey momentous. Each step was a hurdle that came with its baggage of opportunities for self-discovery and more growth.  Particularly, the gift and challenge of having to be formed with students of different cultures, nationalities, some younger than me, right from the pre-postulancy to the Scholasticate. Such an environment afforded me space for continual self-examination and purification of my motivation. In many instances, much was demanded of me due to the age difference, something that helped me to be always vigilant.

Initially I had to struggle with the transition of starting a new way of life, giving up all my independence and projects and submitting to my formators to be formed and helped to grow. I am really indebted to my formators who midwifed this transition, notwithstanding the storms that had to be weathered. For instance, my formator in the postulancy, Fr Daniel Villaverde, always encouraged me that what counts is the quality of service but not the number of years that one has served or ministered. It is in the Scholasticate that our formators, Fr Lelo and Fr Casillas opened vistas for us to experience integral formation and explore leadership and creativity. I will always cherish the many moments our confreres in the different missions joyfully hosted us for mission exposures. It was an opportunity to have a lived experience on the concerns of our different missions in the world and to make our studies useful.

Values based Formation

I am grateful that I have been formed for life; my formators journeyed with me and showed me by examples that it is far much better to be more than to have more.  It has been a formation hinged on values that many education systems in the world do not offer. In the pre postulancy, I encountered for the first time community life and I learnt the joys and struggles of witnessing and evangelizing as a community.  This short experience helped me to live with confreres from other cultures and nations both in the novitiate and the Scholasticate. I remember my formator in the postulancy stressing the need for detachment and always going an extra mile in what we do. He not only said these but we saw him acting on it. I learnt how to make sacrifices and to take studies seriously. Seriousness in studies was coupled with a high sense of time management and discipline. My formator in the postulancy, Fr Jesus Lobato, always reminded us that we are formed in the best ways and taken to good Universities so that we can minister and serve people better. Indeed there was no room for mediocrity with respect to academics.

Prayer life, both personal and communitarian has been at the centre of my formation journey. Along this line other values that were  inculcated included: detachment, service, self-control, moderation, hardwork, perseverance, creativity, stewardship, accountability, spirit of community, solidarity, tolerance, flexibility, continuous reflection and evaluation, self-confrontation, and fraternity. I have never forgotten the spirit of living with intensity and going an extra mile. This was emphasised in the novitiate by my novice master, Fr Pierpaolo, and it is in the missions that I found its fullest expression or lack of it.In the Novitiate, we produced our own crops and stuffed the store with different variety of homemade jam and juice. This was the greatest lesson on self-reliance and healthy feeding. We were formed not to be consumers but producers. Indeed in the spirit of the founder, the little things and the sacrifices we made daily as individuals and as a community helped us to grow in dying to oneself like a grain of wheat (Jn 12:24). In fact the Socius, Fr Moroni, always reminded us missionary life entails slow martyrdom, something that has started making sense now that I am out of the formation house.

In line with St Daniel Comboni

Comboni was a great gift to the people of Africa. This is seen in his conception of Africans in his introduction to the Plan for the Regeneration of Africa.In no uncertain terms his letter on the day he came back to Africa after illness suffices to show how dear Africa was to his heart. Such sentiments were incomparable; he was not just sentimentalizing or romanticizing but speaking from an existential point of view; his writings explodes with what he lived. It is devoid of rhetoric and leads the readers to the envisage a different world for the Africans, a world of justice and equity as envisioned in the book of Revelation.

It is very difficult to see a conflict between what he wrote and what he lived. I find this irresistible in Comboni. His passion for the people of Africa and the Cross is unexampled. His spirit of detachment and sacrifice was exceptional. His resilience and courage in face of difficulties and determination to get what he wanted for the good of the African people challenges any establishment.  Infact his novelty and passion to embrace the cross and to ask for more for the good of the Africans is unprecedented. Most importantly is his open heart to forgive and reconcile with those who presented calumnies against him.

Conclusion

Paraphrasing Fr David Glenday MCCJ, I see myself having been led by gratitude to see how Grace has unlocked the mystery of my existence.  Moreover I have seen also how the same grace has been crystallising in my salvation history as providence. The Comboni formation has increased in me a desire to work for the liberation of the African continent. I believe the best way of doing this is to continue increasing my knowledge about Comboni and share his vision for Africans.  As we prepare to celebrate 150th anniversary of our institute, I am convinced that there is still plenty of untapped heritage from his life that can help in living my vocation today.  I began this journey in 2007 and was ordained a priest on 16th July 2017. Yet I know that my ordination does not complete me; on the contrary, itis,infact, another bold step towards more life, greater growth, service and deep knowledge and love of God and St Daniel Comboni ( Acts 20:24).

BY FR. ROBERT KINENA NDUNG’U MCCJ

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

A JOURNEY FOUNDED ON GRACE AND GRATITUDE PART I

I am the fourth born in the family of the late John Ndung’u and Esther Wanjiru. My three brothers and three sisters are all married. My parents, originally from Kikuyu, settled in Kitale in the 60s and all of us were born there.  My mum instilled in me the desire for priesthood by practical examples; my dad was indifferent and his main concern was academic success. Though she ran a grocery stall in the Municipal Market in the town, she volunteered to teach catechism and decorate the altar with flowers. Her desire to see one of her child join the seminary materialised when I accepted to apply and was admitted to join the minor seminary after my KCPE Exam.

I knew very little about Comboni Missionaries despite having studied in the Mother of Apostles minor seminary in Eldoret for four years. It was in Lokori Mission that I personally met the first Comboni, Fr Simon from Mexico. Later, for the second time, I met more Comboni Missionaries in Korogocho in the year 2007. This was the time I was still discerning with the Jesuits and had been assigned to work with the Comboni Missionaries in Korogocho, serving the community and tutoring in St Johns Primary School. I was fortunate to live in this robustic community of three priests (Fr Moschetti, Fr Paolo, Fr Webootsa), a brother (now Fr James), and two lay missionaries from Italy (Gino (RIP) and Luka). With time I came to appreciate and be initiated informally into the life of the Combonis. I admired their energy and passion to work and make present the kingdom of God among the poor. It was my first time to see priests inserted into the harsh reality of the people.  Though crime was rife in the area, especially dagger- totting boys, I found people friendly and joyful. There were plenty of youths who were always available to take us around to celebrate the Eucharist for the sick each evening. With time I got another family in Korogocho; the Comboni Community and the people. It is interesting that the Combonis treated me as one of their own from the beginning to the end of my experience there. I lived this experience fully and joyfully.

What struck me most is the experience we had immediately after the contested 2007 elections and the post-election violence in 2008.  Korogocho was a war zone between the supporters of PNU and ODM.  Our community became a point of reference in terms of fighting for justice and broking peace between the two warring groups. Acts of injustice had to called by names and condemned, notwithstanding the consequences to our non-aligned community.

I remember vividly the fateful night when some hooligans, supporters of one of the party busted into our community accusing us of supporting and defending the other group that was allegedly terrorising and victimising them. I admire the courage of the confreres to confront the heavily armed gangsters who were more interested in robbing than addressing the allegations. They made away with some items and threatened us to stop meddling in their affairs. With time the political situation became volatile and violence escalated. More young people joined gangs and robbed innocent passers-by in the name of contesting the elections. I will never forget the day that the then Provincial Superior, Fr Mariano, came to visit and suggested we vacate the place due to insecurity and threats. The confreres were categorical that this was the time people needed us most and to vacate would be a betrayal of our vocation and mission. It was indeed a dire moment of evangelical witnessing than flight; and one could sense that martyrdom was beckoning. Yet the community was convinced that it was most importantly a moment of credible witness and energising presence following Jesus’ words “I am with you to the end of time’ (Mt 28:20). So we stayed put, breathing confidence in these consoling words and working for peace with the people while praying forthe situation to normalise.

 

BY FR ROBERT KINENA NDUNG’U

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

VISIT OF THE VICAR GENERAL TO ST. DANIEL COMBONI INTERNATIONAL SCHOLASTICATE, PMB.

From the 26th – 30th September 2017, the above community was privileged to host the Visit of the Vicar General of the Comboni Missionary Institute, Fr. Jeremias dos Santos Martins who was accompanied by the provincial superior of South Africa, Fr. Burgers Jude Eugene.

Uncoincidentally occurring at a time when the scholastics were having their traditional ‘Michaelmas break’, a seven-day period of rest from studies that closes the first term of the second semester of the academic year and is a preparation for the second term, it was an opportune moment to share life with the bigger community of the Institute represented by the Vicar General.

Both Fr. Jeremias and Fr. Jude celebrated the Eucharist with us, during which they shared central aspects of the Institute’s charism, particularly in relation to the purpose of the visit. Sharing the table of the Eucharist also gave us an opportunity to enter a deeper communion with our confreres working in various places around the world, especially in difficult missions. Being a house of formation, it was certainly a moment to consciously pray for more committed and faithful ‘personnel’ (vocations), people who have personally and deeply experienced the love of God in their lives and are ready to embrace the cross as ‘a bride’ and source of joy and consolation in answering to Jesus’ demanding call to journey with the poorest and most abandoned of our day.

During the five days, each of the fifteen present members of the community (three are out to learn the English language) had a moment to share in person with Fr. Jeremias. The visit ended with a community sharing in which Fr Jeremias presented to the community the existential situation of the Institute and the six-year plan.

As a community, we thank God for this time of grace and as we celebrate the 150 years of our Institute, we pray through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, St Joseph her spouse, St Peter Claver, patron of our Institute and St Daniel Comboni, for guidance for each one of us and our leaders in particular, that we may remain faithful as persons and as an Institute to the missionary mandate of Christ in the footsteps of St Daniel Comboni.

BY AUGUSTINE EPIERU MCCJ 

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

ACKNOWLEDGING GOD AS THE PROTAGONIST ALONG THE JOURNEY

Our Christian journey demands a constant renewal and reflection of our commitments. This is imperative to those who long to be radically rooted in Christ; first, as  Christians and second as religious. The journey is not easy humanly speaking but with the help of God the impossible is made possible. We are reminded always to attach ourselves to God the protagonist of our life.

On 6th of August during the feast of the transfiguration eight of us, scholastics of St. Daniel Comboni Scholasticate in Pietermaritzburg made a step to express our gratitude to God for his abundance graces animating us to continue witnessing Him to all, especially to the poor people of our time; spiritually and physically.  On this day two ministries were conferred to us; ministry of acolyte and readers by His Lordship Bishop Sandri Giuseppe of Wit bank diocese. The ministries conferred to us reminded us that we have to ask God to help make this services part of our lives and to exercise these ministries to the poor people and to love as God wills.

In his homily Bishop Sandri Giuseppe, a Comboni missionary of the aforementioned diocese urged us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; terming this the primordial call to all of us, not only as Christians but also as missionaries. He was pragmatic in his homily citing many examples to learn from; one of them being of a woman who had been bedridden for ten years.

Whom he visited, while interacting with her, she said, ‘I am happy for being here (bedridden)’, reasons being she had good caregivers ensuring he had all that she needed, this is  true love for her. ‘What about you who have all you need?”  He challenged us.

 

It was not entirely a way to show  or to fulfill the  rules of installation into these services as stipulated by the church but it was a moment to ask ourselves, what is it that God call us to? To our knowledge it is a service to all centred on love.

In addition to the above mentioned we were reminded that; first, it is the duty of all of us especially readers to ponder the word of God each day letting God speak here and now to us and then nourish God’s people with the same word. Secondly, for the acolyte to know that it is a God given chance to help the priest to reach out to the spiritually poor people and revitalize them with the God who has become and continues to become part of them in their reflections and contemplation of the word.

As acolytes, we are called to carry the light of Christ for all to see, to lead the procession as we come together to worship and give thanks to our Lord and God. To direct people in worship since we have learnt the names and items of our worship {Catholic Church}, the symbols and sacraments, the messages of color and themes of our worship life.

 

But most importantly we will be bearers of the light for the assembly, the ones who remind us of the light of Christ, the light we follow: The ultimate service is an invitation to follow our Lord’s example of humble service to others in this world. I hope that our yes will be inspired by God, since for us nothing matters than to acknowledge God as the protagonist in this noble ministry

BY JUSTUS  OSEKO MCCJ 

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

THE GODS OF PLASTIC

 

 

THE GODS OF PLASTIC:  Part two

Over the years, the government of Kenya has been trying to find ways to manage waste disposal, especially plastic/polythene bags.  According to Ondieki (2017:10)[1] there has been three attempts to ban or control the manufacture of plastics. In 2005 Mr Kibaki’s government came up with a 10-point plan aimed at addressing the plastic menace, wherein plastics under 30 microns thick were banned.  However, a plastic recycling firm that was created soon ran into headwinds. Then in 2007, Finance minister Amos Kimunya banned manufacture of polythene bags below 30 microns and introduced a 120% excise duty on them.  Consequently, traders protested and Parliamentary Committee on Trade and Finance introduced a green tax instead.  Again in 2011, National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA) slapped a ban on polythene bags below 60 microns and tasked the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to execute it. This move also flopped.

It is clear that there has been no goodwill from the manufacturers in alleviating and controlling the massive production of plastics with no clear ways of disposing them. Nonetheless the fight has been revived once again. On February 28 2017, in a notice published in the Kenya Gazzete, Prof Wakhungu ordered polythene bags, both carrier bags and flat bags, commonly used to wrap foodstuff and shopping, done away with by August 28. She banned ‘the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags used for commercial and household packaging’. This announcement commended by UN came three weeks after the launching of UN Environment “Clean Seas Initiative”.  It is also in tandem with the intention of The East African Legislative Assembly in banning the use of polythene bags across the region.  The Executive director of UN Environment, Mr Erik Solheim, was convinced that this step will help Kenya ‘to remove an ugly stain on its outstanding natural beauty’.

However, The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), as usual sees the ban as affecting the country more negatively than positively, arguing that over 176 plastic manufacturers in Kenya directly employ 2.89% of all Kenyans and indirectly employs over 60,000 people.  They further argue that the six months’ notice is not enough to clear stock and to find alternative packaging. These are the two formidable arguments they have been using all these years to continue manufacturing plastics. It appears that it is a lesser evil to destroy the environment in order to create jobs.

This is absurd and if it worked before, we just have to look at our surroundings from the Suburbs of Langata-Karen to the slums of Kibera, from Upper Hill to Mathare Valley to conclude that it is time to do away with plastic bags. In fact, the famous Nairobi River has become ‘Plastics River’ thanks to the youths who collect garbage from residents’ doorsteps at a fee and dump them in the river.Note that the current Nairobi Governor, Dr Kidero argues that the city produces 1,700 tonnes of solid waste daily, much of which is plastic. According to Kanyiha MP 86, 000 plastic bags are handed out in Nairobi daily. Internationally, in one day there is 3200 km of trucks carrying plastics. Monetary wise, it costs US$4000 to recycle 1 tonne of plastic bags.  Given the quantity of plastics manufactured, disposed, and possibly recycled daily, it is not imprudent to conclude that we can do much better without plastic bags.

 

From the above few facts, it has become expedient to again ban plastics. However, since the manufacturers are not showing goodwill, people are looking for alternative ways of fighting this menace. For example, Kanyiha MP has created a site called Avaaz.org wherein people sign up to push for diverse causes. His intention is to collect 100,000 signatures to petition the Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary (CS), Adan Mohamed and the KAM to stop the manufacturing of plastics.

Time will tell whether this ban will be effected successfully. Certainly, the gods of plastics will not sit down and watch their creation destroyed. Meanwhile, Kenyans will have to contend with the recent shocking revelations that the air in Nairobi city has cancer causing elements of 105 microgrammes per cubic metre, a figure that is 10 times more than the WHO threshold of 20 microgrammes per cubic metre.[2]This is greatly attributed to the fumes that come from plastic bags that are burned in the dumping site and in people’s home.

 

 

[1] Ondieki E 2017. Plastic bag ban gets support. Daily Nation, Thursday March 16. p 10.

[2]Kilonzo, E 2017. Air pollution reduces effectiveness of antibiotics. Healthy Nation.  No. 019 March 14, 2017. p8.

 

By Robert Kinena Ndung’u, MCCJ

 

 

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home

THE GODS OF PLASTIC

The Green Corner article (Networking Cedara Vol. 28 No. 2, 20-26 Feb 2017) could not have come at a better time. Though this survey was done in the USA, it speaks volumes and resonates well with what is happening here in Kenya.  It is now about three months since I came back to Kenya from South Africa. Many things have changed and I noted that the population in my town, Kitale, has rapidly increased. The once small agricultural town has become a boiling pot of so many activities.  Businesses have grown, and unlike the past, the narrow streets are congested with people and tall buildings all over the place. Moreover, motorbikes have invested the town causing chaos and gridlocks.  While some, especially the old timers romanticise and want back their old little peaceful town, others feel that it is catching up with the rest of the cities like Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. Yet this has come with its own nemesis.

I have seen that the once little peaceful beautiful green agricultural town has been denuded of its heritage and beauty. The level of deforestation and encroachment on water reserves is going on unabated. Forests and farm land have been taken over by real estates to cater for the rapid population growth. Most of the fertile lands previously used for production of maize on large scale are being sold in small portions to property developers. In place of maize and beans, now we have ‘plots for sale and houses to let.’ No wonder the precious commodity, maize, has become scarce and unaffordable to the majority poor.  In the 90’s we had plenty of water catchment areas and streams. These helped us a lot when the municipality could not provide residents with water for months. It is sad that most of the streams have dried and the catchment areas encroached.

There is filth all over the place from the market to the townships/estates. Solid waste, especially plastic bags have become an eye sore. It is all over the place and it appears that the authorities have no waste management policy or structures. Residents dispose garbage all over since there are no designated collection points. The environment is inundated with plastics bags that have taken the place of green grass and flowers.  The level of air pollution is high as people burn plastics in their backyards and on the roadsides. It appears that people have become inured to this pollution.

The narrative is the same in other towns and cities in Kenya. Here in Nairobi where I am currently, the rate of plastic pollution is very high. There are plenty of illegal small garbage collection points beside narrow roads in the townships. People dump daily, and sometimes roads become unpassable due to the mountain of garbage, ninety percent of which are plastics. Drainage systems are full of plastic bags and bottles. It is very irritating that each time there is a road construction or maintenance, much of what comes underneath are plastic bags and bottles that show no sign of decomposition.

For some time, I have tried to understand this phenomenon on plastic waste. I have come to a conclusion that it will not be an easy way to win. It is a fact that most Kenyans find plastics indispensable. They carry them from home to work and work to home. They get them easily from the stores and the streets. Indeed, notwithstanding their effects to the environment,   plastics appear a friend more than a foe to Kenyans from all walks of life.

Consider the lifestyle of most households in slums or townships.  They buy items packed in plastic bags daily. For instance, small quantities of sugar, tea leaves, milk, chapati, mandazi, cooked beans or githeri, rice, chopped cabbages or Sukuma wiki, fruits, cooking fat, meat, chips ( French Fries), samosas, roasted/boiled maize, roasted/boiled sweet potatoes or yams, etc . On average we can estimate that each household receives about 10 plastic bags per day.In a month is 300 and in a year it is about 3600. All these waste either end up being dumped besides roads, walls, under trees, in nearby rivers or streams or drainage systems that serve the residential areas. For areas that garbage is collected once in a while, in case of delays, fire becomes the best option. A physical visit to one of the slums is enough evidence of this.

By Robert Kinena Ndung’u, MCCJ

By combonischolasticatesa Posted in Home