Tree planting is definitely a wise investment for the future

There are days when I wake up and tune into one of the 24 hours news channels so I can get a glimpse of what is happening around the world. To know how bad the situation is in Aleppo, whether South Africa’s Jacob Zuma is surviving another scandal or how the rest of the world will adjust to a world where Donald Trump is president.

However there are days when something major happens and literally casts a shadow over the rest of the world. Like when I woke up and all that was available as news was the announcement that the leader of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro had passed away at the age of 90. Cuba may look very small when you zoom into the world map to see the small nations that make up the Caribbean but its global significance is hard to miss.

This is a country on whose turf the third world war was almost sparked off. Cuba is that country whose revolutionary support to African countries is well documented. Cuba is well known for the immense medical support it extended to many countries especially in Africa without having to brag so much about it like our other donor friends.

Fidel Castro goes down in history as the only leader who outlived who for over five decades, outlived all the American presidents who tried to depose him. He survived numerous assassination attempts in the process. Obviously not everyone loved him and many especially those who fled to US, only saw him as a ruthless dictator. We certainly do live in interesting times when the man who sent doctors around the world to save lives is vilified by those who leaders send soldiers and drones around the world to end lives.

Outside of Africa Fidel Alejandro Castro is the arguably the last of the iconic figures that many looked up to, read about, heard about and even idolised alongside his long time friend and comrade, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. As one with a deep interest in education, I will remember Castro more for his determination to create an education system that produced the amazing doctors that saved so many lives on our continent. Adios Comandante!

Speaking of education I am still saddened by the closure of the region’s oldest university, Makerere especially now that this closure has really started to bite with reports of about 20 babies dying every day due to the unforeseen shortage of medical staff at Uganda’s main referral facility, Mulago hospital where many medical students work as interns. Makerere’s are a pain not because it is my alma mater but because we still take education so lightly and yet we spend a lot of time romanticising about development.

On a rather promising note, Rwanda has continued with its annual practice of planting more and more trees with more than 23 million trees expected to be planted during the 2016/17 Forest Planting Season that was launched in Kigali. The seedlings are to be planted in the most degraded lands and forests so as to improve on the country’s forest cover and tree population as a whole.

When you drive across the country it is easy to notice that most of the uninhabited areas are covered with trees. Many of these trees were planted in the recent years and have helped the country to deal with the ever growing demand for wood fuel since many cannot afford gas or electricity especially for cooking purposes.

These trees also provide a lot of the timber that is used in the construction of houses around the country. The harvesting of the same trees is very well regulated unlike in many other countries in the region where forest cover keeps declining by the day. Indeed tree planting is a wise investment for the Rwanda of tomorrow as far as conserving and preserving nature is concerned.

By the way I have always admired the respect that trees in this country have. Even before the City Council of Kigali decided to bring down billboards, I loved how trees were never cut so as to make billboards visible. Many could hardly be seen as the trees close by grow and hogged more visibility something that probably made the investors tilt their necks in despair. With the ongoing climate change fears, tree planting is a move in the right direction and echoes Darrell Putman’s famous quote, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time in now.”