Imagine for decades, putting aside land that your family owns for conservation, in hopes that at some point in future it might also pay dividends? Imagine trying to make that decision jointly with hundreds of other families from your community? Imagine questioning yourself over the years, as speculators next door profited from their own dealings and others converted their land for more tangible short-term gains. Now, imagine doing that all while struggling for things as simple as school fees for your children?
That, in essence, has been the commitment that the 844 landowning families of the Kimana Sanctuary have done — and why last Friday was such a cause for celebration.
I was taught that patience is a virtue. We began discussions in earnest 2.5 years ago, exploring opportunities and trying to gain a deeper understanding of where else in Kenya Angama’s guests might want to go. And despite signing a lease almost a year ago to the day, until now all we’ve had to show for our efforts — and our promises — has been a freshly dug borehole.
Friday the 14th of October 2022 will forever go down as a turning point in the life of Kimana Sanctuary, an oasis at the very heart of the greater Amboseli, Tsavo & Chyulu Hills ecosystem, and the soon-to-be home of Angama Amboseli.
It was the day when we broke ground, together with members of the families, as a haze of mbuzi choma (grilled goat) wafted through the air. A symbolic act, turning soil. It was a moment in time, a cause for celebration. Here was the promised development, the partners that Richard Bonham and his team at Big Life had said were coming. The waiting was over.
There had been so much work to get here: discussions, presentations, planning, drawings, permissions, and commitments to fund. But only from Friday will there really be anything to show for all of it. I was also taught that life is a journey, not a destination.
Here’s to the visionaries (especially the patient ones).
Of course, there is an irony that this pristine wilderness will never quite be the same again: by developing Angama Amboseli, even responsibly, we will change this landscape forever. But by welcoming guests from across the world, we will allow for its protection for generations to come.
Filed under: Stories from Amboseli
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