Michael Aketch Odula; the Globe Trotter Whose Green Ideas Still Rule the Island.

Posthumously, one find it hard to get the right words, or phrases to describe Japuonj Michael Odula, the intellectual giant with paragon virtue, who was also widely known for his green vision and passion to plant and conserve .The indelible memories of his philanthropic work, kind heart and compassionate giving, is still fresh in the minds of young and old alumni of Tom Mboya high school. Known for his wit, linguistic prowess and love for jargon, Mwalimu, {how he was fondly known amongst his peers and students} was a global think tank when it came to matters regarding brainstorming on global questions. With his common phrase “think globally, act locally and strike deference” Mwalimu majored more on environmental conservation work. Something he did with lucidity and whole heart until he became a globe trotter, winning UNEP Global 500 laureate award jointly with the late Prof. Wangari Mathaai {Green belt Movement} and to reaching various destinations and  parts of the globe all Scandinavian countries, USA, most countries in Europe and Asia .Being a  real REDD + crusader, his discussions were always centered on International development targets like Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs ,Kyoto protocol etc. His favorite was the Local AGENDA 21{Agenda for change}, a product of the RIO Earth Summit, which he was part of in Rio de jeneiro Brazil in the year 1992. From his philanthropic work, the Island boasts of great legal minds and astute scholars who are doing great work for the island and beyond.

Tale tells of the existence of great natural beauty, ambience, replenishing and soothing breeze as one approach the lake shores .The historians also inscribed about Ligongo and other hills as some areas which had great bio diversity, with indigenous trees and a major wildlife habitat. But sadly the rich lake biodiversity dramatically crumbled from being wealthy to seriously impoverished presenting a cocktail of challenges. And it warmed and gladdened Mr. Odula s heart to see the Islands’ past glory retrieved. And even during his sunset days, he could still inspire the young generation to keep going and keep his dreams for the Island alive and well.

As the inscription reads in the sign post mounted inside the small woodlot created in his honor by his former students at Tom Mboya high school, “Global Environmentalist “,Mike was a true green diehard and nature crusader, who had great ideas to bring back the threatened and endangered trees species like Kango {olea Africana} amongst other tree species through assisted natural regeneration and massive restoration work on the degraded hillsides and hotspots .He had great ideas and catholic of interests on Global warming  and more particularly on massive carbon sink and sequestration plans which would see our people benefit from Clean Development Mechanism{CDM} and get paid for tree planting work .He was concerned about the  destruction of buffer zones, aquatic ecosystems and  dramatic loss of the natural aesthetic  and resilience in the Island and also the disappearance of the endemic fish species  .His tenancy and unflinching commitment to conserve and restore can still be seen from the trees he planted in schools and in various conservation sites in the Island. And all the young and old who participated in his work have indelible memories of how he did his work with passion and elegance.

His story attest to the fact that it is always possible to start from a humble beginning and remain humble even after achieving much. Mike rose from a very humble background after being orphaned at the age of two years and he was brought up by his uncles and step mom. He did his teacher training and rose to become the Principal of Tom Mboya high school amongst other schools. The scholarships by the British council, UNEP and the UKs’ Overseas Development Agency {ODA}  he got was an eye opener as  he was also able to join a  training in Ghana, Gambia, and Sierra Leone. He also attended RIO Earth summit in Rio de Jenierio where he gave a powerful presentation on the “dying lake Victoria”, Mike also trained in Israel and visited most of the biblical historic places like ,Bethlehem{Jesus birth place}, Gethsemane, Mount Zion, Jerusalem, Dead sea, Negev desert and other great historical places in Israel. His outstanding and practical work made him also win awards and honors like UNESCO FELLOWSHIP amongst others.

Before his demise last year march,Mwalimu   frequently featured in various publications locally and globally as a correspondent commentator or for his great work. His story is always inspiring and motivating us to aspire to inspire before we expire and also do something before we go from hero to zero. His meteoric rise from a mare village boy to an international icon has made his home to be a perfect destination for nature pilgrims who come from far and wide to see his resting place. But as Jesus said “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own household”, locally Mike was a mare retiree, but globally, he was something more.

By EVANS ODULA

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