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Village where residents rely on one tree to access mobile phone network

By Joseph Masha | January 20th 2015

Basuba village, whose inhabitants are from the Boni minority community, have for a long time had to contend with mobile phone network issues.

The village, located some 60 kilometres from the Island, has had poor phone reception until recently when a local farmer stumbled on an unlikely breakthrough.

About six months ago Ali Hamza went to his farm to do his usual chores.

He had his mobile phone with him and he decided to hang the handset on a Mfukuku tree within his farm to enable him concentrate on his duties.

"I was busy tilling my land when I heard my phone ring. I was shocked because it is well known that our area has no network," he told The Standard in an interview.

Great discovery

Mr Hamza said he slowly moved toward the ringing phone, received the call and was amazed at the clarity of the handset and the fact that he was able to clearly hear his caller.

He said after the call, he examined his phone and to his amazement discovered that his network reception was extremely strong.

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"I looked at the Mfukuku tree in amazement, suddenly aware that it was a special tree with some kind of special powers to improve network coverage," he said.

The farmer said he rushed from the farm to his village, eager to break the good news to his fellow villagers but many did not believe his claims.

Hamza said he was only able to convince a few people who were willing to bring their mobile phones to the site and they too were shocked and excited about the discovery.

"Word on the tree spread like bush fire across the entire village and soon I had people trooping to my farm to either wait for or make calls," he said.

Since then, Hamza said the tree, located some two kilometres from the village has become a communication hub for locals who visit it all the time.

"There are no set times that one should visit to make or receive calls on  this tree which appears to have 'special powers' that attract network no matter the time," he said.

While this turn of events has been well received by locals, their community leader Awer Tora Ware said it is unfortunate that the community has to rely on a tree in order to get telephony network.

"Boni community is a forgotten group and we do not enjoy services like other Kenyans," he said.

Mr Ware said the area has no shops, neither does it have a health centre and residents have to travel long distances in search of medical care which is especially difficult for expectant mothers.

Visit area

He asked all telephone communication companies to visit the area and install telephone network boosters that will offer a wider reach for the community.

"The Boni are also Kenyans and deserve access to services enjoyed by everyone else. We especially appeal to Safaricom and Airtel for installation of proper communication infrastructure," he said.

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