The fig tree is considered sacred among Kenya’s most populous ethnic group, the Kikuyu. That’s why it was no surprise to see the Kikuyu people and other environmentalists stage protests when the country’s roads agency announced plans to uproot a giant fig tree in order to make way for a Chinese-funded highway in the capital Nairobi.
Cutting down a century-old fig tree that is four-stories tall would obviously be a tragedy. The good news, however, is that those plans will not go ahead after Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a decree to save the much-loved tree.
The presidential decree describes the fig tree as a “beacon of Kenya’s cultural and ecological heritage,” and places the tree in the care of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) on behalf of the city’s residents.
“This particular fig tree is just a symbol of the bigger picture of what we are asking for,” said Elizabeth Wathuti, a prominent Kenyan environmental activist. “We want a green and clean city and clean Kenya.”
Both the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and the Kenya National Highways Authority have now agreed to reroute the proposed highway, ensuring that the towering fig tree remains exactly where it is today.
Image Source: Khadija Farah