I first saw these massive creatures back in 2003 during my first ever visit to Maasai Mara National Reserve. My sister Nashibe was working in a luxury lodge back then, and she invited me to go there for a complementary visit with my Egyptian friend Laila. I had invited her for from Cairo to Nairobi for the UNEP validation workshop of the Africa Network of Environmental Journalists. The goal of the workshop was to validate the Environmental Reporting for African Journalists Handbook. For several months, I had been working on this Handbook under the supervision of the great Akpezi Ogbuigwe and the incomparable Angele Luh, two amazing African women from Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire respectively (You can download that Handbook here).
When the rhino-like running man with a red hood reached within a metre of me, he shouted out one word - strong!
I only registered it fully after we had already gone our separate ways. I realized that he had been urging me on. He must have seen my weary steps. If his imagination tends to run wild like mine, he must have felt that I was running like a warthog, yet I could run like with the speed and grace of a leopard. No wonder he felt the need to send one word of encouragement my way - strong! Or maybe he just felt a sense of solidarity with this fellow runner who was out jogging at 5AM in the morning. Strong!
I smiled in recollection of this singular, powerful word. I actually felt stronger and ran on into Tena estate happy with the knowledge that my house was now only less than fifteen minutes away. I could already see myself opening my blue gate, climbing the narrow staircase and spilling into my living room where I would find my L-shaped handcrafted cane couch waiting for me with open arms.
But before I could reach the warm of my house, I had to cover Tena Estate’s longest road. As I ran along it, I counted twelve bumps scattered across it. This road doesn’t turn left or right, but just keeps going. Since am not sure if this estate road even has a name, let’s just call it rhino road, in honor of that guy with a red hood who defies his massive size to go running and shouts singular words of encouragement to warthog runners to release the leopards within them. Strong!
Be strong today in whatever you do. You can do it. Release that champion inside you. Strong!