"Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country". It is an infamous quote that we have often been told by many leaders. One man in Kenya seems to have taken this quite literally and gone ahead to dig a road by hand.
Transportation is a big problem in many rural areas in Kenya which tend to be some of the country's major food baskets. With money being siphoned from public coffers into the private accounts of many national and county leaders thus resulting into stalled projects and lack of development, one man has decided to take matters into his own hands, quite literally, and end the suffering of his fellow villagers who had been forced to use a longer 4 kilometre route to get to the shopping centre.
Mr. Nicholas Muchami is the hero of Kaganda village in Muranga County, which is about 80 kilometres north of the capital Nairobi. Mr. Muchami is neither a millionaire nor is he being paid to dig the road. He simply does it because the village needs it. During the day, the soft-spoken man earns his living doing odd jobs and working as a guard at night.
With only a jembe (a hoe), an axe, and a spade, the 45-year-old man has been digging the road through thick bush to nearby shops. So far he has cleared 1.5 km approximately one mile in a shocking six days and only has half a kilometre to go before completing the road.
Speaking to BBC's Peter Mwai, Mr. Muchami stated:
[The road] is on land officially earmarked for it, but attempts to get local leaders to build it have failed. I have a lot of energy in me. I decided to volunteer...When I was working on the road, people would ask me, 'Are you being paid'?"
Mwai notes that villagers were frustrated having to use the longer route to get to the shopping centre. He further says that they were outraged because of the fencing off of a shortcut/footpath which although passing through private land had been used by them for many years to get to the centre.
It is this frustration that drove Mr. Muchami to do something. He knew that he did not have a lot of money to hire people to dig the road but the two things he had were: his hands and workmanship tools. He notes that the only thing one needs to change a seemingly bad situation is a positive mentality and determination.
"Now it has made people happy, and I am happy too. My work has helped people of all kinds," he says.
Mr. Muchami does practice what he preaches. He has been working extra hard since last week. Putting in more than eight hours, he has been working from 7 in the morning to 5 in the evening in the hope of completing the road before the onset of the long rains which are normally due in April/May.
With only half a kilometre left to complete, he shows no signs of slowing down. The road has been a reprieve for school-going children as well as drivers who have been using the completed sections of the road.
Despite other villagers commending him for his impressive work, none is willing to help him without some sort of pay. This has not deterred him in any way shape or form as he plans to finish what he started with or without any assistance.
There is no doubt that Mr. Muchami is a cut above the rest. He is not only a hero in the eyes of many but a true embodiment of hope. In the midst of corruption, poor leadership, wanting governance and desperate people, he is not only making a difference but rekindling people's hope in altruism.
His story was first highlighted on Facebook by Kinyungu Micheke, who praised Mr. Muchami's persistence after the dismissive response of the county government when he had approached them for help to dig the road.
Photo Credit: Peter Mwai/BBC
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