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Shrinking public spaces sign of our lack of ambitions

By XN Iraki | May 11th 2022 | 2 min read
By XN Iraki | May 11th 2022
An aerial view of Nairobi's skyline [David Njaaga, Standard]

Where would you land a helicopter in Githurai or Mlolongo, or even in Muthaiga or Loresho?

The simple answer is school playgrounds as was demonstrated during former President Mwai Kibaki’s funeral. We have seen the same during political rallies.

Why don't we leave open spaces for such landings during emergencies?  

Why do we assume that we will never get rich enough to have helicopters? That we will remain hustlers forever?  

In my village, Patrick Clark Turner and Tony Dyer left two functional airstrips from the colonial era.

They became people’s shambas during the one million acres scheme. Why didn’t we spare the airstrips?

I don't want to believe that no one in my neighbourhood will fly a plane in my lifetime. Why didn’t we pick up from where the colonialists left?

Even Nairobi, which is touted as affluent, is averse to open spaces. Nairobi is even worse because its schools have fewer open spaces.

The primary schools are now "giving birth" to secondary schools, reducing the number of open spaces available. 

In Kisumu, they don't want to see schools in the city. Yet, schools are an integral part of our socio-economic system.

They enrich their environment with open spaces. Children are helpless, and we must defend them.  

The failure to spare open spaces not just for helicopters but other public facilities is a sign of dreaming small.

For Central region, residents can blame colonial displacement. But after independence, they never rectified that when the population was low.

Counties should spare open spaces. It will be needed for public facilities from schools, parks,  stadiums and arboretums as well as golf courses.

This country will one day become affluent and hustlers too will play golf. But it seems we are allergic to open spaces; they must be sold or built-up. 

Helicopter and plane landing sites might appear outlandish, but what will come after building enough highways and standard gauge railways? Why do we still think that helicopters and planes are for the rich, yet they have been with us for over a century? We need to demystify flying.

We must think big and positively. Kenya's golden age should come sooner. I am personally disappointed that we still ride bicycles and boda boda long after independence.

We need to upgrade our dreams. We should have done better. What is our excuse?

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