Kenyan President Plants an Olive Tree in Jerusalem

Thursday, February 25, 2016 12:15 PM

“I hope and pray that the tree we are planting today shall symbolize the deepening of our relations”, said Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta plants an olive tree in the KKL-JNF Grove of Nations in Jerusalem on Tuesday, February 23, 2016, as a symbol of peace and friendship between Kenya and Israel.

“I hope and pray that the tree we are planting today shall symbolize the deepening of our relations”, Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya, said in a planting ceremony held on February 23, 2016 at the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem. Heads of State from all over the world plant trees in the Grove of Nations while visiting Israel. The grove, established by KKL-JNF in Jerusalem Forest, stands for peace among nations and identification with the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
“Kenya is one of Israel’s best and most important friends”, said KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar. “Like Israel, Kenya is also a young state that has to face many challenges. Young states are capable of innovating and creating something from nothing. This is the secret of their power”.
Avi Dickstein, KKL-JNF Executive Director of Resources, Development and Public Relations, noted that KKL-JNF is active in 45 countries around the world. “We deal with the environment, ecology, agriculture and improving the residents’ quality of life. Trees know no borders”.
Karin Bolton-Laor, the director of the International Relations and Conferences Department at KKL-JNF, presented the Furrows in the Desert project, in which KKL-JNF is a partner. Furrows in the Desert is assisting the Turkana people in Kenya transition from a nomadic grazing society to a more sustainable agrarian economy. Experts from KKL-JNF share their accumulated knowledge about agriculture in desert areas including dealing with tough climatic and soil conditions and lack of water; in this way, they help the Turkana people sustain themselves through farm work and attain nutritional security.
The residents of Turkana undergo agricultural training and receive equipment and professional guidance. Advanced Israeli technology also rises to the task, providing solar water pumps to irrigate the fields. “This is a unique model that we seek to expand”, said Bolton-Laor. “We have a wonderful rapport with the people of Turkana, where both sides learn from each other”.
The President of Kenya has expressed his hopes that the unique project expands to other areas in his country. “We in Kenya can learn a lot from KKL-JNF, which has planted 240 million trees through the years. We are working on a memorandum of understanding between our forestry services and KKL-JNF. We hope to see this partnership grow and evolve”, he said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta was born in 1961 and studied political science and economics in the US. He was elected as President of Kenya in 2013. He is the firstborn son of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s founding father and first President. Diplomatic relations were established between Kenya and Israel during his tenure.
The ceremony was gracefully emceed by KKL-JNF Chief of Protocol Andy Michelson, who invited the ambassadors of both countries to read the planter’s prayer. Yahel Vilan, the Israeli Ambassador to Kenya, read the prayer in Hebrew. His colleague, Augostino Njoroge, the Kenyan Ambassador to Israel, read the prayer in English.
After the prayers and the exchange of greetings, it was time to roll up sleeves and get to work. The eminent guests were not put off by the muddy grounds on this rainy day, and went straight to the planting area. President Kenyatta and KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar proceeded to plant an olive tree together. “When Heads of State touch the soil of the Holy Land with their hands, it connects them to the State of Israel", said Atar at the conclusion of the event. “There is no doubt that the visit of the Kenyan President strengthens his connection to our country”.
On his part, the President of Kenya promised that this would not his last visit in Israel. “I will come back to see how my tree is growing”, he said with a smile.