Nothern Kenya Republic, Solar powered Camels and Motor Cycles

Posted on December 23, 2009


This interesting article from IRIN|Africa tells us about this newly discovered country called Another Kenya. Now, who would have imagined that a new country, totally untouched by civilization, could be discovered in this time and age, in East Africa! Excuse my silliness, I totally understand what this writer is getting at. In fact, he seems to have taken the title of the article right out of my mouth. When I traveled to Samburu last summer, I oftnen asked my folks why they kept deluding themselves about them being Kenyans or being in Kenya for that matter. The truth is, when you hit those dry, dusty, rough, god-forsaken roads of North Kenya Republic, you truly know that you have left civilization and entered a place still in Stone Age. For a moment, you forget about stone houses, town/city lights and even modern languages as you become preoccupied with bushes and shrubs; sometimes a herd of zebras and occasionally if you are lucky a herd elephants. All these of course are beautiful things to see in life except you also get concerned that men with dark clothes and AK47s might creep out of the bushes and shoot you or steal your money and phone. Welcome to the North Kenya Republic or simply Another Kenya.

In order to pass time while travelling between Rumuruti and Maralal last summer, I often found myself thinking about creative ways to bring the herders of North Kenya into the WWW also known as the Wide World Web. What am basically getting at is that these guys are missing out. I mean, imagine if a herder had access to Google! when he notices his cow guessing skywards while spinning on its own axis (remember you Form 2 Geography lesson), instead of sitting there and praying for a higher power to intervene, he would simply throw in a few words into Google and probably come up with the correct disease with those particular symptoms and ways to treat it. Did you know that Google can predict the outbreak of Flu in the US two weeks before the Center for Disease Control and Prevention?

So, this was my problem; how do you avail Google to people who have no electricity leave alone internet?! How stupid could I be to think of such a thing! Jeez, did they never tell me that nothing works in North Kenya?  Still I didnt give in to those little devilish voices that were trying to tell me that I was wasting my time. So I had an idea: what if you had Solar Powered lap tops mounted on motorcycles! Eureka! This is it……this is my Einstein moment! Well, it seemed plausible. All you need is solar technology, a few hundred lap tops, motor cycles and hire some guys to follow pastoralists and give them the information they need to survive. What about all those boda boda bikes in Maralal? They could do a pretty good job, wouldn’t they? “Can you afford it?” One of the little voices interrupted. Enough of my Einstein moment, here is the main point…..

Kenya’s Nomadic Communities Trust (Who are these guys?) and some Designers from Art Center of Design and Princeton University have come up with what I will call Solar Powered Camels. Now, why were you telling me shut up when I told you about my solar powered motorcycles? Even camels can be solar powered! Anyways the idea is to come up with solar powered refrigerators that would be mounted on top of a camel and ferried across trecherous districts of North Kenya to deliver medicine to the clinics. This is a great idea. First of all, there are plenty camels in these places. Secondly, there is enough sunshine to light up a small planet like say, Pluto? With a few motivated individuals, it might soon become the transport of choice in the area.

One last thought. If all goes well, in the future, these places that the Real Kenya (whatever that is) is neglecting right now will be the suppliers of energy that will be driving the whole economy of the then Combined Kenya. When they come calling and beg us to supply them with a little bit of electricity, we will stand on top of mountains and shout: Tarmac our freaking roads, connect us to Google and Yahoo and even a little bit of Twitter before we can comply!   

Happy day and please leave a comment….

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