Thursday, July 5, 2012

Library access transforms pensioner


By Bett Kipsan’g

A visit to Sipili market three years ago is a memorable moment for Mr. Stanley Ndumia Gikonyo. It was while doing his normal rounds in Sipili shopping centre after selling his farm produce that he noticed a sign post written “Ng’arua Maarifa Centre”. He was driven by curiosity and thought it wise to confirm what kind of maarifa (knowledge) is offered in this new facility in their locality. Unknown to him, his curiosity would lead to a long journey in quest for knowledge.

Stanley Ndumia selecting a book at Ng'arua maarifa centre library
Mr. Ndumia 65 is a retired primary school teacher currently engaged in farming. He has learned the art of farming kales, spinach, tomatoes and carrots which he sells in the local market.

 He also farms maize, beans, peas and sweet potatoes popularly known in the area as ngwaci. He is full of praises to Ng’arua Maarifa Centre for providing library services and attributes the success of his farming activities to the Centre. 

 Ndumia has been an occasional visitor who utilizes the library service. 

Some of the books he has come to like in the library include: How to make a kitchen garden, the ‘‘vertical garden’’ and ‘‘double digging’’ and ‘‘how to mitigate the effects of drought’’.

In his Kagaa home of Ndurumo Location, he has built a dam to harvest rain water and is currently planning to construct a greenhouse. He attributes all these new ventures to the skills acquired through the books he read in the library. In crop management, he now knows how to control pests by using locally available material which includes bitter herbs, neem tree, chilies, and tobacco leaves. This new technique which he still uses up to now has enabled him control aphids, caterpillars, and lice in his crops.

His knowledge on other cereals has been broadened. He is proud to be among the leading soya farmers in the area courtesy of the library service. He used to plant maize and beans only as the major cash crops but soya has been added to the list of his economic activities. He discovered how to cultivate this crop from a book borrowed from the Maarifa centre.

Horticultural sector has not been left behind by Ndumia. He can now preserve the otherwise perishable horticultural products using the new knowledge he has acquired. Kales and stinging nestle can stay for longer while awaiting disposal in the right market without any damage since the farmer knows how to preserve them.

In his livestock farm, things have radically transformed because he can comfortably preserve fodder and other legumes for future use by animals. He remembers reading a book on how to continue with productive livestock farming even in dry seasons. This he does very well. He confesses that unlike other farmers he is not a bitter man during drought because he can provide water for his animals from the dam and can replenish feeding troughs using feeds he stored during times of plenty. According to him this has only been possible because of the knowledge gained in Ng’arua Maarifa centre’s library.

When the former primary school teacher reflects on his managerial skills, he only wish that time would be reversed because he now has knowledge on better management. In particular he has learned how to manage time, self and other people. Since he cannot do anything to the past, what he has embarked on is to impart the skills on his children. He also passes the same knowledge to the community.

Mr. Ndumia observes that some people do not utilize this facility to the maximum yet it is readily available free of charge and can transform livelihoods. He advises that more proactive measures like chief’s barazas should be used to sensitize people on the importance of this library service. His parting shot is “knowledge is power; it is available in the Maarifa Centre library. If you need it, go for it, it is free!”


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