photography: Mukuhi Wanjohi
Location: Daraja Academy (Laikipia North)
Two weeks ago I attended the Daraja Academy cycling challenge/ gala night followed by camping on one of the coldest nights of my life. I think my brain froze at some point I could no longer feel the cold. It was a magical night. Those girls inspired me, made me laugh and at some point moved me to tears. This school is raising a generation of strong women who have overcome a lot of challenges in their short lives to become young role models. If you ever meet them, trust me they will have the same effect on you…
As much as this event was about raising money for girl education, I had to go looking for some inspiration in nature.. I read in a blog once that if you are a photographer and you are not sure if it is okay for you to take photo or not you just keep snapping until someone stops you. That is exactly what happened in this case… We took a walk just a little outside Daraja academy to take a few photos of the landscape. A few minutes out, there was a herd of camels and my friend and I were more than happy to shoot away. My friends exact words were that this was as close to a wild animal as we would see right before a very angry man came from the bushes shouting at us.
“Usipige ngamia picha! Hio sio mali yako. Ukipiga picha utaniona!” (Don,t take photos of the camels! that is not your property. If you take photos I will deal with you!) We silently backed off but not without a few shots of these beautiful creatures of the dry Laikipia North. I was later informed by a source that the local politicians have told the locals not to allow people to take photos unless they get some money from it. I guess that is a valid point but then again how do you determine the cost?
The flora and fauna at Daraja did not disappoint either. I was treated to some of the scenic views below and one of the most amazing sunsets I have seen in a while. I don’t t think there is a day that goes by that I do not see the blue sterling bird… It never dissapoint and its curiosity is always welcome
Sometimes I wanna lose faith in humanity but I still believe people will have sense enough to do what is right. Allow me to go on a bit of a rant. I have mentioned earlier that the Daraja girls inspired me and I feel like am the one who should be looking up to them and not the other way round. I took the first photo of the camp site when we arrived and the second one on the morning after, after almost everybody had left. We were there to support these girls and set a good example but instead this is what we did. we found a perfectly clean campsite but left our litter for the same girls we went to support to clean up. I have no respect for people who drop litter without even flinching, especially those that say if they don’t litter the county council guys wont have work to do. If you are such a person, shame on you and I hope you change. Remember to always leave a place better than you found it otherwise what example did we set for these girls?
Finally, as you drive into to Laikipia, there is a welcome to Laikipia County the Oasis of opportunities sign which only has wildlife photos and I wonder why because as much as I love elephants, check Ivory to ashes and Falling for Elephants , there is so much more in this vast county; the landscapes, livestock and the communities. This is the place to be. I am yet to explore most of Laikipia but thanks to a little inspiration from The Kenyan Camper and an invitation from Dr. Josephine Kulea (The founder of Samburu Girls Foundation Mukuhi is heading to the north starting with Samburu. I can’t t wait to meet Kulea’s girls, experience the Samburu culture, eat a Samburu goat and meet the Samburu elephants!
This was my last photo on the road from Daraja Academy . The car was moving at 60km/h but the cows were generous enough to let me steal this shot.
Until next time, be a responsible citizen, do not litter & alway set a good example. You never know who is watching. Above all else connect with Nature wherever you go.
Get more information about the school on daraja-academy.org and if you can please send your donation. It will go along way in educating the girl child.