A blank page. The most difficult place to start, but I will do my best.
It’s been a minute! What brings me here after a really
really really long time is to talk about mental well-being, climate anxiety, more action and less of Blah Blah Blah.
Life is fleeting but so is our world, if we are not careful. I have said before that humans have this perception that they are better than any other being that lives on planet Earth. That we are immune to the difficulties that are currently facing our natural world. Yet, here we are, facing a climate crisis with unpredictable weather patterns in this part of the Sahara, a pandemic that has ravaged the world and left us with immense stories of loss, tragedy – but fortunately hope.
Do we realise where we are going with all of this unnecessary regard for the life forms on which the human race is built on to thrive and flourish for generations to come?
We recently marked World Mental Health Day. In the African or Black setting, we are not allowed to say we are depressed, anxious or express the pain that plagues our mind. Yet, we walk through life like zombies not knowing that what we go through at some point in our lives is okay and normal and we can talk about it.
Then there is toxic positivity where words like ‘choose to be happy’ are stamped on your face every time you are sad. It’s like you are not allowed to feel the pain and sadness that you may be going through at the moment. These could be stemmed from a childhood where you were not allowed to cry when you fell or hurt yourself. As you become an adult, you tend to hold on to pain even when your entire being is calling for you to recognise it and maybe it’s as simple as taking a break or a breather or as intricate as seeking help from professionals.
But where would you do this if not in a place where you find comfort? Where you can find healing both physically and mentally. My words may be all over the place at the moment. But one thing I recently realised is that I do find joy in expressing myself through writing and I enjoy creating content on social media – hence my recent fascination with TikTok and Instagram Reels. And sometimes all we need to do is talk to someone or be in a space of calm.
In an effort to try out a place that I have not been to in the green city under the sun but soon to be concrete chaos – Nairobi, I visited Ngong Road Forest through the Miotoni Gate. To be honest, it wasn’t easy getting to this decision. All I wanted to do on that day was just stay in bed the whole day and watch movies and sleep. But then, I realised if I stay at home I might as well go crazy and I knew that sometimes (especially on this day) I let my mind play tricks on me.
I also remembered there is a photography project that I needed to work on and stop with the procrastination.
According to Ngong Road Forest Association, the Forest covers an area of 1,224 Ha and is managed by the Kenya Forest Service and the Ngong Road Forest Association, a Community Forest Association formed under the Forest Act of 2005.
Ngong Road Forest is a gem when you want something simple yet diverse, calming and also affordable. There are numerous sights and sounds in this small section of the forest which is 142 acres of the 1,294 acres. From the forest birds which are less seen and more heard to the cars driving by the Southern By-pass. You may not realise this, but having a green space in the city has plenty of benefits, from cleaning the toxic polluted air, mitigating sound pollution, providing a buffer zone against floods, acting as a carbon sink thus mitigating climate change and also for our mental health and physical well-being – a good hike is bound to get your heart racing for all the right reasons and a breath of fresh air will most definitely calm your mind.
Despite all that has been said about green spaces and urban biodiversity, Nairobi is slowly losing its green life all in the name of putting up billboards, building pathways and car parks and recently the monstrous Nairobi Expressway. What we stand to experience in the coming years is a rise in respiratory diseases, flooding during the long rains season, and unprecedented heatwaves and not forgetting to mention mentally fatigued (burnout) humans working and/or living within the city.
Professor Wangari Maathai did however say “We must not tire, we must not give up, we must persist” and as a point of reference – we must not and cannot lose hope. There is more to look forward to and act upon. We still have green spaces in Nairobi that are free to access or have an entry fee. There are also numerous social justice centres and youth groups working to create or/and restore green spaces in communities and as long as we have social media we can continue to raise awareness and build an understanding of the need to protect green spaces including trees that grace sidewalks.
We also have the opportunity – it is the perfect time to start holding our leaders to account both in politics – as we approach the general election, and in the private sector. We cannot continue to just listen to the voices of leaders when their hands are clean with no speck of mother earth dirt in their fingernails. Green spaces should be accessible to everyone and anyone, whether you live in an affluent area or a low-income area.
If at all you are reading this, know that you too can make a difference. It doesn’t have to be huge like speaking at a global conference. It is the small steps you take to speak up and act for the unrepresented. Telling a child not to litter because they are responsible for their waste and how they dispose of it. Choosing to be a conscious human being every single day. What you do today will have an impact on the planet – both present and future generations.
This is me. Just peeping. Until the next piece. Thank you for reading.