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Our beloved country will be celebrating 52 years of independence from British Colonialism on Saturday. I would never have known what the Mau Mau, and the other fighters went through had it not be for the history lessons and the story-telling tales I heard when I was growing up. Today, I want to thank them for their sacrifice. So, THANK YOU!

Just as we needed to be independent from the colonial masters then, so do we need to be independent of littering and every negative behaviour associated with it. Yesterday on my way to town, I saw a man drop a tropical sweet wrapper on the floor of the bus. Due to how alert I usually am about all matters litter and waste, I tapped gently on his shoulder and requested him to pick it up. He nodded his head showing that he would. Three minutes later, the wrapper was still on the floor. I reminded him. 10 minutes later, it was still there. At this point, even the book I had been reading could not distract me enough from what was happening. Not able to take it anymore, I told him once again to pick it up. Five seconds later, I took the wrapper, shoved it in his pocket and told him to put the trash in his bag, or look for a bin and bin his trash. The people in the matatus were so shocked, they said nothing. The woman seated next to me asked me if I was an environmentalist to which I responded, I was. Looking at the culprit, I realized he had a ring on his finger, which could mean he had children. I wondered what he was teaching his children if he was capable of doing such an action.

When I told this story to my friends, one of them said, “You like doing things that will one day make you be beaten up by people.” I replied to him, “If you don’t want to take risks, I will because I will not stand by and watch people destroy the environment!”

What exactly is my point? When the Mau Mau decided enough was enough, they took up whatever tools they had for weapons, risked their lives and their families for us to be free. They had seen that how they were being treated was not right and decided to do something about it.

Just as Kenya needed its independence so do Kenyans need independence from such environmental degrading practices like littering. Most people forget that littering is a personal choice with public consequences. Just in case you are the type of person who in this scenario will say “But the trash in the bus will be removed when the bus is washed.” Let me ask you, do you know where it goes? I do. Let me tell you where it goes. Once YOU drop that bottle or paper or whatever trash in the bus, the next day in the morning the bus will be washed at some dingy place in Nairobi, with no street sweepers or even decent bins. The bus crew will sweep and wash YOUR TRASH right on to the ground and will leave it there until God knows when. As if that is not enough, should the bus crew see YOUR TRASH during the day, he will take YOUR TRASH and throw it outside the bus as it is driving and YOUR TRASH will end up on the street! A few days later, YOU will be complaining how dirty Nairobi is! Let us cut the crap and be real. Only human beings generate litter. Not animals. Not plants. Not the sky, moon and stars. Litter is from YOU.

Therefore, as you celebrate independence this weekend, ask yourself if you need independence from such horrible behaviours. What are you teaching your children? And, just in case you think that no one is watching or will do anything about this, you are wrong. At MAZINGIRA SAFI INITIATIVE, we are not afraid to take risks to do good for the environment. We ask you to do the same. When you see someone litter, confront them. That way, we change such attitudes one person at a time, removing trash from Nairobi one piece of trash at a time. Wangari Maathai did it. So can you. Being a hero for the environment starts with the little things, you do. If this article offends you, stop littering! If it made your day, share it!

From Mazingira Safi Initiative, HAPPY INDEPENDENCE WEEKEND!

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