How I was bitterly locked out of Obama historic Nairobi Summit

By: JOSEPH MACHARIA

I am disappointed. Very disappointed because President Obama left before I could pitch my grand innovations in Agriculture to him.

I am angry because I was well prepared to meet Obama and show him what we have been doing at ‘Innovative’ Mkulima mixed farm. We had a lot to showcase. First, we have embraced smart climate agriculture.

We also have the revolutionary Mkulima Young App which helps farmers to market their produce using mobile phones. I believe this idea has a big potential, yet I couldn’t showcase it.

The invitation to Mashambani Cooperative Chairman came when campaigns for the chairmanship were in top gear. Mzee Jeremiah decided to ignore it because he did not understand it and did not also want anyone to attend. He never mentioned it during the hand over.

As an entrepreneur, I thought I deserved a place in the Obama Summit. I ensured my solar panel powered pump was working with the elaborate drip irrigation system.

I also confirmed the bio gas plant was in perfect condition — I needed an investor who can now put in money to enable us put the gas in cylinders for sale.

I have often been told this project is a good example of clean energy. And I hear these kind of matters make Americans happy. So I also assumed Obama will be happy to hear my ideas.

I first heard of this Obama thing from Adenya, my city friend and former classmate. This is before Wandia, my techno-savvy Vice Chairman, started sending some information on twitter about the Obama Summit.

GREATEST MEETING

Adenya twitted how big the event would be. “It is the greatest meeting for young entrepreneurs. It is the best thing that can happen to youth who want to make it big in business,” wrote Adenya.

The more I read about the summit, the more I realized I was qualified to attend. So I took very nice pictures using my Nokia Lumia phone.

I also shot a ten-minute video to explain some things about my farm. But many things conspired in this village to deny me a chance with Obama.

On the eve of the journey, just a day before Obama arrived, my favourite dairy cows calved. It had retained its placenta and I had to wait till late evening.

Muchiri, my farm boy, is on sick leave due to alcohol withdrawal syndrome – after all the bars closed at Mashambani village due to the ongoing campaign against illicit brew. I have taken up some of his duties. I couldn’t travel.

Obama was to attend the summit the following day. So my only option was to leave Mashambani before break of dawn, after milking the cows.

Makanya’s rattling lorry woke me up at 3 am. The previous evening, he had offered me a lift as he took an order of cabbages to the city. I turned it down because he’s a slow driver.

My only option was Maendeleo. This is the bus that plies Mashambani – City route. I called Cyrus, the driver, popularly known as ‘‘Pilot’’. He departs at 5am.

The bus is a sort of a lorry. It is very important in Mashambani since it carries cabbages, sukuma wiki and milk to the City every morning. You have to book a seat earlier by contacting ‘‘pilot’’ or his conductor.

On my way, I met Njamba, Mashambani Primary School head teacher, who was also heading to Nairobi. His company helped to kill my loneliness and quelled my fears of the unknown in the summit, where I was hopeful of pitching my idea to the investors.

As we walked some village dogs thought we were gangsters. They started barking and chased us. We had to use our boys’ skills of stone throwing! That delayed us.

We arrived at Mashambani shopping centre and Maendeleo bus had just left! Mr Njamba and I hopped into one of the early boda bodas and went after the bus. We caught up with it at the next shopping centre.

“We called you but you were mteja,” Pilot said. “I think we were down the valley where the network is poor,” added Njamba trying to clean some mud on his suit.

FRONT SEAT

Njamba had already booked himself the front seat which is a privilege in the village. I was sandwiched between two hefty women in the back seat.

The bus left. It swerved a number of times to avoid hitting potholes, dogs crossing the road and people delivering milk.

We arrived at country bus station at 11 am. I looked miserable with mud all over my clothes. I couldn’t tell where the venue for the summit was but after inquiries, a taxi driver directed me.

Soon I was at the gate where I found mean looking armed soldiers. “Exhibitors were supposed to be inside before 7.30 am,” one of soldiers said.

A beautiful lady in US military gear came and politely told me, ‘Invitations were sent three months ago. Sorry, you can’t go beyond this point,” she added.

I realised rural agri-entreprenuers were not on Obama’s list. Next time, I will strive to force a direct invitation to such a summit.