Wahuria had survived the relentless heat, thirst, hunger and despair in the month and a half that she had wandered across a seemingly endless plain.
Now, as she hoped to get closer to Th When she reached her destination, she found herself crouching, half buried under the roots of an old baobab tree, when a cruel-looking gang of men searched the surrounding bushland for her.
They did not yet know what they were looking for except that their scout, a large hawk now lying dead on a bush, had spotted something here and they were determined to find out what it was. It hadn’t rained in seven years, not a drop, and everyone was as desperate as the earth was deserted.
Wahuria watched them approach, poking around in the dry undergrowth, her eyes sparkling with hunger. Her attention was focused on the man closest to her, kicking vigorously against a sparse bush, a gruff-looking, scarred man who appeared to be her leader when suddenly someone shouted from behind her and pushed her under the roots of the Baobab.
“Look here!” the man triumphed, holding a kicking and writhing Wahuria by her left ankle.
Immediately they all swarmed around her and Wahuria was in the middle of a dense circle that cast them in the shadows as faces down looked at her.
“Move!” commanded a deep, hoarse voice, and Wahuria basked in the bright, scorching sunlight as the circle parted and the excited men fell silent in unison: “Who are you? What are you doing here? ”
Wahuria shaded her eyes with her hand and swallowed dryly. She was too downcast from her trip to lie. She was done fighting and it was kind of a relief to know that the end was near, so she sighed, lowered her arm, peered into the curious faces in front of her, and spoke calmly.
“Me come from the east, “she mumbled, but her leader lifted a finger to silence her. Men interrupted her, and now her intimidating leader crouched down so that he was eye to eye with her, and she stuttered in fear: “I … I have a message for your boss … my uncle.”
The gruff-looking man Sila, leader of the few remaining warriors of the Kata tribe, cocked his head as he did the wild-looking woman stared at it, trying to find a resemblance between her and her old chief, but all he could see was the tired eyes in front of which he did not appear to be a lie. And so he gave a sudden, sharp scream and his men all climbed onto their horses, one of them heaving Wahuria uncomfortably over his back and they galloped off in a cloud of choking dust.
All in that Dorf had gathered under a large umbrella made of lightly woven sisal and lined up on four tall poles to form a makeshift structure that was easy to move. These days, they always had to move, follow the course of a dying river, and camp where it was deepest. They had come to hear and see the chief’s apparent niece deliver a message from her people in the mountains; which they could see as dark purple shadows on the eastern horizon, most clearly in the pale light of dawn.
“… you have to banish the loggers from your land,” said Wahuria, devastation from further up and the green earth turns brown “, mumbled and nodded in agreement, after all they had noticed it themselves.
” But you assure us that you plant a seedling for every felled tree “, her uncle began in a clear voice, despite its fragile ones Gestalt, “I’ve seen them planted myself! I made sure that… “
” Yes, uncle, “interrupted Wahuria hesitantly, her uncle’s temperament was as legendary as that of her fathers and she didn’t want it to be aroused,” But a seedling can’t do what a tree does, ”she raised her voice as he opened his mouth to intervene. “Who can guarantee these seedlings will mature into trees for the next 20 years or so?” She paused, noting that she seemed to have won over everyone except the stubborn old man. “Uncle”, a smile played on her lips. Laughter accompanied her as she continued: “A seedling is not a tree yet, stop trading what you have for what could be.”
There was silence when she was finished. A hot wind swirled dust around their feet and rustled over dry tufts of grass that were almost baked on by the sun.
Who could deny that life has only gotten tougher since they turned their trees to wood was, the plains a rougher place to live. The river was also dry. Once it could swallow a big man on its shoulders and now small children waded in its depths.
The murmur of the villagers slowly turns into a yell to heed Wahuria’s message. Breaking all protocols to show his support, Sila went to her and stood behind her, and the rest of the village followed suit. If they had something to say, and now they realized they were doing it, things would be different. If they were protecting the same nature that supported them, they might have a chance.