June Wanjugu Akembo
13/88 Nelson St.
Auckland Central, Auckland, New Zealand
11 December 2015
Re: East African Politics And Farming of Fruit, Vegetables & Flowers (Horticulture)
To Heads of Organizations:
We've written before about life at my grandparents' farm at Mathira in Kenya. When we were children, we, meaning myself, Uncle Karaba's children and Mrs. Mathenge's children used to get fruits to snack on during the day. The boys would climb the trees. That was while we were herding the cows and sheep, picking coffee, tilling or cultivating land etc. The fruits which grew on the land were grapefruit, orange and lemon trees, gooseberries, sugar cane, tree tomato, passion fruit, avocado pears, custard apples, mangos, yellow berries which I've never seen in the temperate lands, nor have I seen gooseberries etc. The farm at Ihururu had plums which were grown for commercial use, in addition to pyrethrum and coffee etc. Today, we want to further discuss the politics of these agricultural crops and their scientific and economic uses. The yellow berries are important because of their absence from my life since I left Mathira. They had a yellow skin and a white interior and one or two brown seeds inside. One would take a bite of the fruit and then throw away the seeds before consuming the remainder. I'd like to obtain more information about the fruit and resume growing them and consuming them in East Africa. The same goes for gooseberries which were a light yellow to green colour with a white interiour but no seeds. The yellow berries grew on a tree while the gooseberries grew on a vine or runner. Those of you who are familiar with botany should recognize those types of plants. Both fruits are to be reinstated into our diets and economies. Custard apples were sold by Soung Yueen, the Asian shop where I shop, shortly after I arrived. So were tree tomatoes and passion fruit. These fruits are then, part of the diet of Asians, and passion fruit continue to be used in drinks which are manufactured by Thailand and other Asian countries. Our tree tomatoes were red, sweet and juicy. There's a variety here in New Zealand which is green in colour, and which is referred to as feijoa. The red variety which I grew up on is called tamarillo in New Zealand. Both varieties of fruit are to be resumed by East Africa. We are now marketing fruit juices made of feijoa, and we must make economic and culinary use of all of our other fruits. I've also previously mention guava. They too were grown by my grandparents. The guava has a green skin of varying intensity, and all types are to be grown once again all around East Africa. On the subject of flower farming or horticulture, we've recently posted a handwritten letter to East Africa describing pyrethrum farming at Ihururu. That letter was a follow up to two previous letters which were written here in New Zealand. Pyrethrum is a flower, one variety of which is also called chrysanthemum. The flowers are chemically used as insecticides, including a compound known as DDT which Americans criticized for causing environmental damage. In East Africa, the insecticide is used to kill mosquitoes which cause the disease malaria. The pyrethrum flower is therefore economically useful to us. In addition to Ihururu, the plant is grown by the Acholi tribe of northern Uganda. The flower is also used as a beveraged or tea, which we market commercially. We dispute that Pyrethrum is harmful. Also in northern Uganda, the Lango tribe grows a flower which is called morning glory. It's purple in colour, and is used in laxatives etc. One really has to wonder why there's such a terrible attack on my life, centred on faeces and excretion etc. Therefore, the public health responsibilities of our tribes are to be recognized because of the racial attacks which we have to suffer. Morning glory is also used as a pesticide and in foods and drink. Other flowers which are part of my life include roses and carnations, both of which were grown at Tumu Tumu. Roses as you know as used as perfumes, teas, etc. Carnations are more intriguing because there's a commercial trademark of condensed milk which is called Carnation. It's manufactured by Nestle. I'm curious to learn why Nestle chose that name as it's trademark for condensed milk. Carnations also have a pretty or pleasant fragrance, it's obvious that it too is used by the perfume industry if not the insecticide and pesticide industries. Back to fruits, avocado pears were widely used in Mexican food when I lived in the United States of America. Here in New Zealand, it's recently become publicized by Japanese restaurants who use the fruit in sushi at St. Pierre's Sushi. You have to understand that I believe that that's a better use for the fruit from my perspective. St. Pierre's also makes its own trademark of soya sauce from beans etc. By the way, the vegetables which are grown at Tumu Tumu, Masailand and most of East Africa include beans and maize which are used to cook Muthere as the Kikuyu called a stew or soup which is part of our diet. Muthere can be cooked with maize and beans alone, or with the addition of potatoes, cabbage, meat, tomatoes etc. All of these vegetables were present at my grandparents' farm, and so were pumpkins, sweet potatoes, arrowroot in two varieties, carrots etc. They are all products which are also sold at the open-air market of Karatina, Arusha and everywhere else where my people inhabit. It's also not unusual to find roadside vendors who are basically farmers who take some of their crops to sell to drivers who are passing by. We also grew bananas which exist in many varieties everywhere in East Africa. We've also mentioned our coffee cooperative at Karii, as well as our milk cooperatives at Karii and at Kiangoma where I attended nursery school.
June Wanjugu Akembo