Dry and Forbidding

The gate to his castle reads “Garden of Hope”. Here, Simon Lekita rules. His level of knowledge and confidence stretches out across the acres of the lush farm he tends to. A rich variety of no less than twenty types of vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and farm animals thrive under his master-gardener skills.

Without an iota of vanity, Lekita states- I am an international gardener. He has taken time to learn about the vegetables majority of the hotel’s guests love – from Europeans, Asians, Australians and fellow Africans – and he has been growing them with great success.

I catch myself spitting out the shameless froth of my uppity prejudice- because a man of his intelligence shouldn’t look this.. simple, a tad beat-up, the scars of lived life evident in his missing teeth.

He walks us the length and breadth of his kingdom as he recites easy knowing from years of learning and doing. He knows that the shamba is a feast for the eyes and an inspiration to anyone who comes visiting. We pick up a harvest of ideas should we ever entertain the thought of masquerading as farmers.

Lekita spills out his story and I’m sufficiently chastised.

“I used to work here, then I left for Nyeri where I lived for fifteen years. There, I picked up a wealth of knowledge on farming. In that time I also raised my young children through college and graduation. When the cold of that land no longer agreed with my health, I made my way back to the Coast. When I enquired about my old job, they said- Come!”

The hotel management gave him a few acres of wilderness, dry and forbidding, to clear and do whatever he wanted with it. Now Tsavo Safari Resort and its twin facility, Tsavo Salt Licks feed their guests fresh food grown right outside the kitchen, thanks to Lekita.

We have been coming here religiously over the years, and the quality of food is amazingly different. It was great before; it’s a sublime song of the senses now. Every bit of it. Ask Preston.

Get this: Lekita has also ventured into aquaculture. Guests go to his pond, fish fresh tilapia, and sit around a tree to have it made right there under the Taita night sky. What! This place has certainly set a standard far above 5* with its culinary approach.

Sometimes it’s those at the top of the chain of power who others’ ignite visions in the wilderness. There’s Mr. Wilmot Mwadilo, the Manager who could have said no to Lekita. That’s the same guy who built a museum inside this very same hotel.

That museum has now become a place of pilgrimage drawing guests from Australia to Europe who regularly come to pay homage to their people who died here fighting in the 1st globally expanded war of European tribes.

More heartfelt for me, this ground where Lekita’s garden of hope thrives was home to thousands of local Dawida people, my kin, who died fighting in a foreign war on their own soil. They knew no difference between Germans and English people, but as war goes, they were forced as pawns to take up arms against one group, a period that devastatingly depleted the local population.

We refuse to weave the stories of our past with bitterness because we know this- In that wilderness dry and forbidding, there lies a garden of hope just waiting to come alive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *