Written by Emilly Chelagat
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Nandi County: Unemployment has been a problem to many Kenyans and is in fact the main source of poverty as people don’t have income to enable them afford their basic needs as well as luxury to fit in the modern world.
The problem of unemployment and poverty has been overcome by a 45 year old Peter Keroya from Kapsabet, Nandi County after becoming successful in life through tree planting despite the fact that he did not complete school.
Peter Keronye Muindi, 6, alias “makarate” born in Chavakali of Vihiga County in 1967.
His parent divorced and together with his mother and siblings they migrated to Nandi and dwelt in Koibarak Nandi South where her mother bought land after divorcing his father.
In 1974 he joined school for the first time and he was enrolled to standard one in Musasa I.P.A primary school in Aldai. He was of 8 years old then. He attended school up to standard three then quit school due to hard life and mistreatment by his step father.
He narrates that he engaged in alcohol and drug abuse at that little age being rejected by both of his parents despite the fact that his step father was working at Nakuru police station while her mother was a peasant farmer and was doing well.
He further narrates that it reached a time he was totally chased away forcefully by the two parents after getting addicted to drugs and engaging in theft.
He went back to his uncles at Lusengeli and decided to quit drugs at the age of 14. He was employed as a herdsman in South Kabras where he did the job for three years and left it after stealing one thousand shillings from his employee and fled back to Chavakali.
He was traced by the police and was arrested and taken to Kakamega Juvenile Remand home, later was charged, found guilty and was imprisoned for six months.
On his release he went back again to Chavakali and stole a one gallon of maize from his grandma and boarded a vehicle he remembers was called “roadways Nyanza” that brought him to Kapsabet town.
Here he was employed also as a herdsman by one of the teacher, shortly then a Kikuyu took him to Nyandarua South Kinango Jebini for the same work.
In 1991 he came back to Kapsabet when he had realized himself and employed as a house boy for 2 years by the late Joseph Kuto who was the richest man in Nandi by that time.
Mr. Keronye says that he only worked for 2 years at that family and left after the death of his employer. He then opened his own car wash entitled Testai car wash and before that he was working at Testai garage motor vehicle in Kapsabet in the year 1994.
In that year, he was jailed for 2 years at mix block Eldoret prisons by the owner of the garage when some gadgets were reported lost while he was in charge, and in the course of his imprisonment he managed to train in the field of mechanics at the same time he was preparing food for his bosses and also ironing their clothes.
He further adds he was released in the year 1996 where he came back to Kapsabet and in 2006 he made up his minds and started a tree nursery planting at Kapsabet town near Kapsile supermarket where he is operating up to date to earn a living.
He operates his nursery at Kapsabet his highness the Aghakhan mosque being the caretaker of the mosque and is paid Sh 7,000 per month.
“I am well off and I can afford to educate my children and care for my family without any problem as what I get in the sales of seedlings is even more double than what I get as a care taker,” he said.
Makarate is married to one wife Melisa Afandi with six children who assist to take care of the tree nursery during holidays. His nickname “makarate” came about as a result of his high tempers when disturbed and about his painful experience in life all through his youth age.
His Nursery “Kapsabet evergreen tree and flower” consists of all kinds of exotic and indigenous trees, fruits and flowers and clients from various regions of this Country including Nairobi,Mombasa,Eldoret,Nakuru and Kisumu come for his products.
He says the price depends on the kind of a tree specie and its uses and is running at a profit and earning a well living like educated people despite the fact that he is a standard three drop out.
“I have learnt more names of trees in nearly all the languages spoken by the 42 tribes of Kenya like Nandi Flame tree is called Muzuna in Luhya, Saratayiat in Nandi and podo tree is Biribiriet in Nandi and Septet in kipsigis,” He exclaimed.
He called upon the young youths who have no jobs to look for appropriate ways of earning a living and like through what he is doing.
Apart from doing well in his business, he says he undergoes some challenges like tribalism whereby he adds majority of people in Nandi tells him he is very expensive in terms of selling his trees and mocking him to go and do that in his homeland Kakamega claiming he can’t do that in Nandi.
He says this has made him sale his seedlings to people outside the environs of Kapsabet town.
Above all he also does some bit of poultry rearing in his home and rears chicken like white leghorns from Delamare Naivasha and Kenbrew which are for meat and eggs and has found its market in Chavakali and some of the hotels in Kapsabet town.
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