MEET MY HEROINE – PAULA KAHUMBU

pDo you have a passion? What boundaries have you crossed? How far have you stretched it? What are your crazy stories? Do your close friends harbour thoughts of you going nuts? Well if not, you are not passionate enough. Passion should make you wake up in the wee hours to jolt down a line or two for your next song, two scribble down an idea for your next book. That’s passion for you. It should make you restless, sleepless and agitated if you have not satisfied it. It drags you out of your comfort zones, to a unique world which only exists in your mind, they call it utopia. Passion should remind you of one Boniface Mwangi who downed his cameras and projects from the likes of Safaricom, to advocate for good governance in this country. Passion should remind you of the the late, Wangari Maathai, who endevoured to preach conservation of our threatened environment even when she was mishandled by police. Passion should make you recall, Timothy Njoya who cheated death along Parliament Road while agitating for the second liberation.

Whenever I think of passion, my mind reminds me of a noble and phenomenal woman, a wildlife conservationist, to be precise, an elephant enthusiast, who will do anything to ensure elephants in this country are safe from poachers. She breathes, eats, drinks and tweets anything conservation. Inspired by another veteran in the field of conservation of fauna, Sir Richard Leakey, Paula has grown through her passion to sensitize communities across Africa on the need to protect the endangered wildlife. People never appreciate wild animals, they take them for granted, in fact they do not understand these animals have feelings. When infernos burn out a forest, wildlife is threatened. When poachers pounce and kill them in numbers, they are reduced to extinction. When human wildlife conflict arise, communities take the law in to their own hands and maim or kill them. All these sad but real stories, make the heart of one Paula bleed in pain and anguish though not helplessly.

In her words she says “conservationists do crucial work on a shoestring, cut off from the rest of the world. They’re in remote, isolated places, some even risking their lives.” Currently working under Wildlife Direct, a charitable organisation founded by Richard Leakey, her job revolves around keeping in touch with conservationists in Africa on the ground who try their best to ensure endangered species are safe from the enemy. Bloggers and photographers in this field, can share articles and videos in real time, on the day to day challenges of wildlife in Africa. Thus it came as no surprise when Paula Kahumbu walked to Kimaiyo’s office and patiently waited for a record, 8 hours to have an audience with him and put an offer on the table of helping the police, in arresting a suspected ivory kingpin Feizal Ali Mohamed. Kimaiyo appeared briefly and casually dismissed her. You can count on me, this is not the last time you you will hear of her, raising her voice to the annoyance of  government busy bodies who can’t match her intelligence in this field.

What Paula is doing is to say the least, exceptional and deserves a standing ovation. She is a rare being, at least in Kenya  where we auction the country at the mere smell of money. And in our peculiar habits, we only celebrate people when they die. They die not knowing they inspired, brought solutions and made us happy. I choose to celebrate her today and encourage her and everybody else who is stepping out to make this world a better place to live in. What is your passion, and how is it helping this world, is it just tearing it apart? If you haven’t figured out one, you better crawl from the conformers and mediocres and may you be inspired by Paula. Be an inspirer.

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