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Tragedy of Uhuru Park fall from green to dust, filth and worse

Kimathi Mutegi @kimathimutegi

It is a household name. A major landmark. It’s been venue for historic national events, decisive political battles. Its grasses have listened to numerous giggles of young love, witnessed the heartbreaks of many a break-ups.

It is 12.9-hectares of memories, joy, tears, history. It is the nostalgic Uhuru Park –the smaller adjacent Central Park included.

A few years ago, the parks adjacent to the Nairobi central business district had been renovated, rediscovering a beauty they lost in the 80s.

For the first time in a long time, you were not afraid of contracting all manner of illnesses in case your boat-ride on the man-made lake turned into an impromptu  swim.

The waters were sky blue, the fishes visible under the bright, healthy water lilies floating gracefully on the surface.

This street boy identified and secured a prime spot where he put up a residence. Where he probably gets money for supplies, you don’t need to think so hard.

The landscaping in the parks left the manicured lawns of Muthaiga palaces green with envy.

The footpaths were nicely paved, cleanly kept.

There was a dustbin here and another there, leaving littering to the absolute jerk.

Heck, there were upturned taps flowing with clean water in case the thirst struck and you happen to have little faith in those bottled liquid minerals.

And the fountains! They were a sight to behold, spewing pure dazzle through their twisted sprinklers. The parks had once more turned into Nairobi’s espace de respiration or breathing space for the less travelled.

…to the now

Today, well…Uhuru and Central parks are nothing but large neglected plots in a prime area.

It is amazingly sad what a few years of neglect can do. The green grass, gone; the waters, murky; the paving, gone; even the stream that trickled with sparkly water, now flows with sewer.

But the biggest heartbreak is at the monuments. The once mesmerising installations that cost you and I so many millions now lay in utter ruin.

Mosquitoes and plastic bottles have adopted what’s left of the water storage tanks while the sprinklers stand desolate, dry, rotting away. It is devastating, seeing where we have been and where we now are.

Is this who we really are, a society of one step forward and several back? Should we just give up on ourselves and move on? I really don’t know. Do you?               

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