A farmer’s diary


By Fred Gori

I have little mugunda near Got Kalafwari. If it may interest you, Got Kalafwari is the global headquarters of the Legio Maria sect. It proudly sits on a beautiful hill so that its light is neither hidden nor dimmed. This is where Melkio Ondeto, the one who called himself Messiah and founded the Legio Maria sect, is interred. I am not sure if, he, too, is waiting for the resurrection.

But give it to him, founding a whole denomination and leading it to a point where it is a well-known brand with thousands of followers is not a joke. From Got Kalafwari, one can survey the entire land, from the sugarcane plantations of Bondo Nyironge, to the rolling hills of Kuria country, which stretches all the way into Tanganyika.

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A few years ago, I planted some sugarcane on my little Mugunda and was expecting to get rich and retire early to a little house on the shores of the river with cool waters, roasting yams and green maize in the evening as I regale villagers with stories of my many years in Tanganyika, Uganda, Rwanda and Nairobi. 

The first harvest went well, although it came a year and a half late. The opportunity cost was huge. That is when I began to question the practicability of my get rich dream.

The second harvest did come in time. Well, almost. But there was a problem. The maturity of the crop coincided with a major famine, one of the worst since Moluor Mogik, Ker Daniel Arap Moi, left the State House grounds aboard a helicopter. The locals in Homa Bay named it ‘Awiti Miel Kisumu’ after their University of Manchester educated Governor who was rumoured to be dancing in Kisumo hotels as his subjects starved.

As Awiti Miel Kisumo ravaged the land, my Kuria brothers, known for fighting on the side of my Kisii in-laws whenever the Kipsigis or the Luo attack them, discovered a new career. It had everything to do with my Mugunda. Every evening, they crossed our River Jordan to harvest cane, my cane, which they sold in the markets in the agriculturally rich Kehancha and Isebania neighborhoods.

 The Mugunda was not fenced. Too bad. But even worse, no one told me a crisis was loading. When the harvest finally happened, I got less than half of what I had anticipated. That is how I got out of sugarcane farming. And I am still here being roasted in the Kajiado sun instead of roasting green maize in the duol outside my Got Kalafwari home.


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