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Blimey, we are now naming elephants!

By Ted Malanda | June 21st 2021

Wildlife rangers at Ol Jogi Ranch herd a tamed elephant and its calf named Maisha. [Job Weru, Standard]

I hear the people who manage our jumbos want those who feel like being named after an elephant to fork out Sh500,000 for the honour.

I would be pleasantly surprised if Mzee Mwai Kibaki, who doesn’t have a footpath named after him, writes out a cheque.

Equally, it would be a shocker if their Excellencies Joseph ole Lenku, Samuel Tunai Ole Kuntai, Graham Granton Samboja and Prof Kivutha Kibwana – the respective governors of Kajiado, Narok, Taita Taveta and Makueni, where elephants live, cough a half a million of their cash for the honour.

This naming business is aimed at raising funds for conservation, I know.

Foreign exchange

But have you seen a peasant begging the MCA to pay cash to have a bull or cow named after them? If the cow belongs to you, and you value it, feed it yourself damn it!  

This is the problem of reducing value to “tourism and foreign exchange”.

But try explaining that to a farmer whose crops have been reduced to elephant dung, or some guy whose elderly mum was tossed 100 metres sky-high by what journalists call “rampaging and straying” elephants.

I know wazungu will fall over themselves to be named after elephants because it is them who romanticise and pet jumbos.

Luxury tour van

Yes, it is easy to describe an elephant as “magnificent” when you are watching it on television or the safety of luxury tour van as opposed to when it is scratching a wrinkled butt against your manyatta – or your own butt is stuck on a tusk.

But I wonder how they will feel when elephants named after them are shot dead by rangers because they were raiding crops or they flattened a hut packed with a family of peasants snoring inside on reed mats. Magnificent?   

Look, Kenyans won’t fork out 500K – they would rather buy plots next to parks. Problem is, we also can’t pretend to be independent when elephants with mzungu names are strolling around in our national parks and game reserves.

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