green-gold waves of tea

by Elouise

Kenya Tea Hills

green-gold waves of tea

dwarf laborers in distance–

rain clouds brew overhead

* * *

Kenya tea farm images

In fall 1999 my husband and I enjoyed a day near Embu with friends.  After lunch they took us to see nearby tea farms.  The fields were beautiful.  The work was not.

Working conditions for laborers were substandard and virtually unregulated.  The work itself is back-breaking, usually under hot sun. Large corporations were moving in, cashing in on one of Kenya’s most lucrative resources, sometimes using machines instead of human labor to do much of the work.

Kenya is blessed with unusually rich soil and year-round growing conditions.  In areas just outside Nairobi we saw brand-name farms growing pineapples, and row upon row of green-house shelters for seasonal flowers such as Valentine’s Day roses.  All for shipment out of the country, and profits back into the pockets of corporate agriculture.

In 2007 tea workers in the area we visited went on strike.  How much has changed long-term?  I don’t know.  I do know Kenya’s natural resources are still a gold mine for international corporations, and that this pattern is worldwide, from my back yard to your back yard.

In the end, exploitation feeds the demand that drives human trafficking–labor trafficking, sex trafficking, and child trafficking.  It seems poverty is a very lucrative business.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 February 2015
Photo credit:  DAFraser, Fall 1999
Kenya tea farm, northeast of Nairobi near Embu