Nairobi's patch of green

Nairobi's patch of green

Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is blessed with two ‘green lungs’ right in the heart of the bustling city with a view of the skyline dominated by tall skyscrapers in the Central Business District.

These are the Central Public Park and the nearby Uhuru (Freedom) Park. It is interesting to note that there would have been no park but for the efforts of Prof Wangari Muta Maathai (1940-2011), who started the ‘greenbelt’ movement to plant more trees across the continent. She fought to save the park from the bulldozers of the former Moi Government. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

The first thing that grabbed my attention when I stepped into the park were gardeners wearing green dresses, busy watering the plants with hoses and cleaning up the park. The concern for environment came loud and clear when I asked for a straw for my soft drink.

“Sir, no straws are allowed in the park.” There are warning notices like, “Littering in this park will lead to outright prosecution — order by Town Clerk.” I could see a public-private partnership in the provision of garbage bins and benches, from the Nakumatt retail chain, carrying messages on recycling such as “Think green,” “Go Blue,” and “Re-use, Re-duce, Re-cycle”. A few vendors of soft drinks and snacks were allowed to function in the park.

Both the Central Public Park and the Uhuru Park, separated by a street, have a variety of trees, some flowering. There are play areas for children including paddle boating. An artificial lake with its shimmering waters enhances the beauty of the park. A few water fountains dot the park.

The chief attraction, however, is the concrete monument dedicated to (Uhuru) freedom. This structure has embedded decorations on all the four sides Water fountains add to the beauty of the otherwise drab concrete structure. I was surprised to see many vultures sitting quietly in an open field at the end of the park.

There is no entry fee for the parks. However, a word of caution is in order — do not enter the park after dark due to nefarious activities of a few unsocial elements that deal in mugging, drugs, sex and alcohol. I did not see many security personnel keeping an eye on the activities of the park visitors. The park, being in the central business district of Nairobi, is easily accessible.

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