On June 29th our dear comrade passed away. “Macharia” was a not just my friend, he was my colleague, teacher and role model. He was also my neighbour. During walks I would pass by during the blazing noon sun to get some shade and catch up with who I knew as the “it guy” for recycling. Situated smack dab in the middle of the chaotic Eastlands of Nairobi is a little Shangri-La Macharia started back in the 1970s. A piece of fenced off land dedicated purely to the research and advancement of waste recycling. As soon as I sat under the tin roof, next to the massive boiling pot of rabbit stew, a strong sense of relief took over. “Who has to worry about garbage? The answers are all here” I used to think. There you could learn about almost every way to recycle waste. From plastic bags to goat shit you name it they were making money off of it. Rows and rows of huts filled with chickens, rabbits and goats processing all the organic waste from the locality. Young men busy getting dirty, working with one of the machines processing plastic, women outside looking after the growing vegetables. It was harmonious, and everything I want to be doing.
Macharia spent a lot of time gathering support for these types of programs. He was completely transparent with his business so others could replicate it, specifically youth. Together we trained hundreds of them on how to make money from abundant local resources surrounding them. Him and I attended tons of waste management meetings with city council, steering committees and international organizations.
I forget sometimes that Macharia had been doing it for 40 years. It’s not easy and I get frustrated at all the emerging obstacles, but then I remember the stories that Macharia had to go through to get where he did. He was an irreplaceable asset to society. Dedicated towards community growth and environmental conservation. Every neighborhood in the world needs a Macharia. Now with one less it is truly a tragedy.
Mungu aweke roho yake mahali pema peponi