After meticulous planning for the first Park visit under the theme #CityParkMemories, Saturday 28th November turned out to be a true test of character for the Friends of City Park. The weather was anything but friendly; cold, windy and no sight of sunshine. We had planned to start at 0900hrs, we were to walk to the maze then make our way back up to the fish ponds. By 0840hrs we postponed the walk to 1000hrs to give time, hopefully, for the rain to stop, but that was not to be.
However, with the rain still pouring and winds still blowing at 1000hrs Friends made their way to the Coca Cola Kiosk, the FoCP’s usual meeting point. We sought shelter from the weather at the fish pond, with the gazebo there giving us brief shelter. But the rain intensified and pushed us to move to the Band Stand.
This visit was no doubt a special one, as with us was Fleur Ng’weno, one of FoCP’s Founding Members and Legendary Birder. After spotting a few wet birds taking shelter on tree tops and in branches, with nothing else to do Fleur begun to share some of her #CityParkMemories.
She recalls afternoons back in the 70s when she would organize pupils of the Hospital Hill Primary School, Nature Club to go to the Park from 1 to 3 pm. The pupils were given different tasks that involved identifying and collecting different living organisms. “We only had one rule,” says Fleur, “Nobody fall in the river! But someone would always fall in the water. Back then the river was clean, right now I don’t think anyone would find it funny to fall in the river.”
The rain subsided and we decided to walk around as Friends continued to share different experiences. Among people present were Bettina Ng’weno and Amolo Ng’weno, Fleur Ng’weno’s daughters. They too happily remembered the memories when their mother would take them to the Park and they would actually play in the Kibagare River. Bettina recalls how in 2013 it was challenging but fulfilling for her to be the founding organizer of the Treasure Hunt at the Park with two primary schools from the area.
“The children were excited and full of energy running from one part of the Park to the other looking for the different clues and completing tasks, the adults could barely keep up with them,” remembers Bettina, “we had reached out to 6 primary schools but on the day only two schools showed up. This was probably a good thing because by the end of the day all the adults were winded.”
As the skies began to open up, we saw the Park come to life. The Sykes monkeys began to swing through the trees and birds began to sing. We were then treated to beautiful view of Globetrotter Dragonfly (Pantala flavescens), they danced over the green lawn located between the Band Stand and the Fish pond. A Fun Fact: a natural pest controller, an adult dragonfly is capable of feeding on over 1,000 mosquitoes a day.
by: Karimi Kimathi