TALES OF HOPE: My wheelchair doesn’t stop me from farming

Dominic Muya is no stranger to adversity. He was detained at Mwea Irrigation Scheme in 1950s, has lived with diabetes for the last 26 years and is a double amputee.

“One of my legs was amputated in 2010 and the other one in 2012,” he says.

He also underwent a heart surgery in 1995.

The 84-year-old father of six uses a wheelchair to get by and has beaten odds to become an award-winning farmer.

Although he has to hire people to work in his farm due to his disability, he is able to closely monitor and plan for all seasons. In 2015, he won the Best Farmer prize in the handicapped category, Nakuru County at the Nairobi International Trade Fair.

The wheelchair user is wheeled to his farm every day, save on Sundays, to instruct his employees.

Dominic acquired most of his skills while he was in detention.

“We had been detained by the colonialists because they believed that all Kikuyu youth had taken an oath under Mau Mau movement which was against their administration. When we were captured, I was living in Kisii with my parents where they had bought a piece of land. We were taken Mwea where we worked in the rice farms.”

Dominic receives an award from President Uhuru Kenyatta. During the 2015 Nairobi international trade fair, he was among farmers honoured by the President after coming top in a competition organised by Ministry of Agriculture and Elgon Kenya. PHOTO| AYUB MUIYURO

From 1953 to 1955, Dominic recalls they worked in the farms for long hours without breaking for meals.

“Most of the time we fed on stale food which included beans, bananas and ugali. During the night, we were not given any bedding, we used grass to cover ourselves in a single room that accommodated more than 50 men.”

He says one of the hardest lessons he learnt while in detention is how expensive freedom can be. He also got to learn lessons on perseverance.

“No one was allowed to walk freely as you would be escorted by a guard even while vising the latrine.”

He acquired skills on how to take care of a farm especially on irrigation.

This is in addition to cooking skills that he acquired because he also got to prepare meals for the masters.

One of the memories that remain fresh at the back of his mind is how five of his colleagues were shot dead for trying to escape from the camp.

“They were shot in the forest while they were trying to run away and their bodies were brought for display as warning on what would happen to anyone who attempted the same.”

He transferred the farming skills to his land later in life.

In his two and a half-acre farm, he practices mixed farming that comprises of bananas, maize, beans, avocados and tomatoes which he grows on a quarter of an acre space.

He also keeps dairy cattle and rears broilers and layers.

For his dairy cattle and commercial purpose, he grows Napier grass, Boma grass and Lucern.

“Currently I have 150 banana stalks which am planning to increase as the rains continue.”

He has worked with various farmers’ organisations among the Farming Systems and Nakuru Farmers Marketing Federation where he was a member from 2004 to 2006.

He says that his effort to increase produce in the farm has been hard-hit by lack of water.

“I depend on rain water which is not reliable because of the climate change.”

PLEA FOR BOREHOLE

During the 2015 Nairobi international trade fair, he was among farmers honoured by President Uhuru Kenyatta after coming top in a competition organised by Ministry of Agriculture and Elgon Kenya.

The President also promised the farmer a borehole.

On two occasions, a determined Dominic pushed through a mammoth crowd to catch the President’s eye just to remind him of his promise but this has not borne any fruits so far.

                                                 Dominic Muya’s farm. PHOTO| AYUB MUIYURO

 

In mid-2017, during the campaign period, president Uhuru coming from Nyahururu to Nakuru, he passed through Subukia and Mr Muya’s effort to access him were futile because of the huge crowds.

For the second time in 2017, while the president visited the Subukia shrine in October, Mr Muya hired a car to ease the access but he did not manage to see him.

Having pursued all avenues, he decided to implement the project oh his own but this did not bear any fruit either.

“I spent Sh 150,000 in drilling a borehole but it did not produce any water and I could not go ahead with the project because of financial challenges. I would like to see other members of the community get water.”

His wife Jacinta Wambui said most of the times during the dry seasons, they have to buy water for their livestock and irrigation.

“Young people nowadays do not like working hard because most of them “fear” getting tired. This is one of the factors that have contributed to increase in number of street beggars. Most of the people living with disabilities have resorted to begging and yet they still have the right state of mind. One requires brains and commitment and things just work out.”

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