Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia has warned a contractor paving streets in Ol Kalou town not to dare touch a tree planted by Founding President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta 66 years ago.
On Friday, an attempt to mow down the mununga tree (ekerbergia capensis) by the contractor stirred rare emotions among the residents who formed a ring around it vowing to never let their tree be killed at whatever cost.
And to show solidarity with the residents, Kimemia hugged and kissed the tree before proceeding to hold court under it on Saturday. He asked residents to help defend the tree, which was planted by Mzee Kenyatta in 1952 prior to his arrest and detention.
Speaking during the World Cooperatives Day in Ol Kalou town, the governor said attempt by the contractor to cut the tree had angered residents.
A worker armed with a power saw, had been hired by Nephy Construction Company to cut down the tree was chased away by the residents and told never to go near it again.
One of those with deep emotional attachment to the historic podo tree is Francis Kamau Kambo,74, who said it should be preserved, among other trees that hold a special place in the heart of the residents.
His sentiments were shared by Bernard Njoroge, 84, who said another podo tree planted in the town in honour of the late Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai in October 2011 should be protected. It was planted on the day her body was cremated.
“Wangari Maathai was my hero. We were told to plant a tree in her honour. I did not have land to plant trees and so I decided to plant this podo tree in front of my shop in her honour,” said David Wanjohi, a trader.
Njoroge said after independence, Mzee Kenyatta would always stop and address the residents under the tree whenever he passed through Ol Kalou on his way to and from Nakuru.
Former MCA Wahome Kamoche said the tree is revered by the town residents because most political decisions made in rallies held under it always had binding and positive outcomes.