The colonial history of one tree in Kenya being reclaimed as our own

Photo: Blanchi Costela/Moment Open/Getty Images

When the British left Kenya at the end of their colonial rule of the country, one of the things they left us was the gift of the jacaranda tree. Growing up in Kisumu, a city in the Western part of Kenya, we would see them, these jacarandas, blooming in hues of seismic purple every January, heralding the new year. By Jomo Kenyatta Highway, Oginga Odinga Street, on the streets and avenues of Kisumu, the jacarandas would stand, towering over the vehicular and foot traffic on the roads. Sometimes, these jacarandas were rarely noticeable, but once you ventured to several bastions…

— Short Fiction —

Illustration by Therrious Davis

1. How to talk to a fox

My grandfather was always telling us how he had climbed Kilimanjaro in his twenties. He would stop midway through swirling his ugali through his stew and declare that none of us had ever known real cold. “We got to the base camp, and once there, none of us showered.“ His cheeks would glisten and his eyes would glint. “Let me tell you, me I didn’t even drink the water on Kilimanjaro; it was too cold!” Having said this, he would proceed to regale us with stories of his mountain-climbing exploits, as if we hadn’t heard the stories several times before.

Carey Baraka

Carey Baraka is a writer from Kisumu, Kenya. He sings for a secret choir in Nairobi.

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