Man Sculpts Souvenirs From Discarded Wood To Conserve Nature

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To escape from the tedium of joblessness Paul Ndung'u Chege, 53, accidentally stumbled onto sculpturing where he uses tree stumps and discarded pieces of wood, something that has become to him a whole new experience.

With Kenya's natural forest cover standing at less than three percent today Chege, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Nairobi University (UoN), knows too well that deforestation and the indiscriminate clearing of vegetative cover in our country has over time gradually mutated into an inevitable cul-de-sac that stares every Kenyan in the face and which has naggingly refused to leave us.

Like corruption, he says, it is so evident and has spread, almost by necessity through all levels of society, becoming inherent and is, therefore, deeply entrenched in our psyche.

Freshly Covered Charcoal Oven
Freshly Covered Charcoal Oven

"For a fact, all those that engage in this evil are intrepid, sanguinary and cruel. Clearing all vegetative cover is a heinous crime," he says with a tinge of regret, as he wipes clean one of his sculptures with a rag, adding that this is going to turn into the worst disaster and the largest capitulation in our country's history and that it is enough to throw a scare into the government because it has been unprecedented in its swiftness and scope.

"As a country, we don't know where the rain began to beat us. We have sunk into a very deep ditch of defeatism and this has put us in that ugly environmental mood."

According to him, this crisis has come in many different cloaks, waxing on with black and dismal hopes of ever reversing. He believes that though many environmentalists have predicted with no great exercise of sagacity that this would come to pass, the most potent interventionist pressures have been exerted more by words than by actions.

He says, "It has been nothing but empty rhetoric. Nobody seems to realise the predicament we have landed ourselves into. We must do what we can because this is not a laughing matter. It is now time for vocal and visible lamentation because this problem has become even more basic than the others. The damage is irrevocable and getting back to where our environment was is a dreamy goal."

Though parting with this kind of attitude for many is an anathema, it did spark and actually triggered Chege's fire of trying his hand on sculpturing. He wanted to spread the simple message of how to improve the environment and make it better, not by causing more destruction but by using what has already been destroyed.

Inside a resting shed outside his house
Inside a resting shed outside his house

Since the art of sculpting came along to him as a pleasant surprise, he was very skeptical at first but he, nevertheless, gave it a trial.

"Everything goes with some prior experience. I had none in sculpting but now I'm slowly fulfilling my ego of being a conservationist through it," he says.

And true, he is able to transform discarded pieces of wood and tree stumps into beautiful, almost bizarre recognizable sculptures.

"My creative eye is able to pick up something interesting even from worthless pieces of wood. Using these I curve aesthetic sculptures, ornaments, souvenirs, wooden castles and even beaded leadership batons."

Asked what he intends to do in future, Chege says that he now wants to hit the curio market with his sculptures so as to hammer home the need for everyone to conserve nature for the current generation and for posterity.

Chege posing with a sculptured seat
Chege posing with a sculptured seat

 

Some of his creative works
Some of his creative works

 

Picture in the house with some of the sculptures
Picture in the house with some of the sculptures

 

Posing next to a scaled down rock formation of Mt.Kenya
Posing next to a scaled down rock formation of Mt.Kenya

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