My name is Mitchell McTough. I am originally from Kenya, having schooled and grown up in the lakeside city of Kisumu until the age of 13. Whilst in Kenya I studied at an English boarding school at a place called St. Andrews Turi. My mother, siblings and I eventually moved to North Yorkshire, UK, during the summer of my 13th birthday. All three of us attended a school called Ampleforth College. After completing my GCSEs and A Levels I went on to spend a year working and volunteering in the ecotourism sector in Kenya from 2007-2008. It was here that I carved my passion. After completing this, I then went on to study at Sussex University, in Biomedical Science. However this did not last long (2 months). In love and recklessly for love I moved north and began at Bradford University, in Geography and Environmental Management (From 2008-2014 with a 2 year leave). Whilst working and completing my 2nd year, I founded (along with 3 other Leeds East African Students), the Tribal Instinct fashion show and movement at Leeds University. Several months on in 2011, I launched Tribal Instinct Volunteers. From 2011-2013 I ran the programmes, however addressing the many issues on the ground was difficult without truly understanding the causes. In January 2014 I decided to formerly launch Wild Instincts www.wildinstincts.co.uk a non-profit ecotourism organisation. This, alongside entering into a Masters in African Peace and Conflict was what I believed would strengthen my understanding on how to tackle the problems facing particular nations in East Africa.
My current hobbies include sailing (summer), running/trail running/fell running, gym, and art.
Imagining a peace and Kenya as I know it:
To imagine Kenya, is to believe that I can create an image in my mind so vivid and evoking that it conjures the green pastures of the Western and Central provinces, starkly contrasted by the rugged mountains and plains of the North, the sand and palm swept scenes of the coastline, to the savannah grasslands of the South. The intertwining of diverse cultures, communities, and urbanised areas with nature. I see a myriad of harmonious settings, smiles, eyes looking to the future and hands held together across a strong and peaceful nation. Though my imagination is mangled and distorted by the fears that peer into it, the knowledge of environmental degradation, the political agendas and corruption, the societal failures, it can only be expressed in poetry:
The ‘Eighth’ deadly sin? Mans foot print:
I walk along this meandering path,
Marked with a footprint of wrath,
Nestled in, nobody hears, nobody sees, nobody speaks,
Like Gaia’s vein pierced the pain creeps,
To you and I alike a needle to the thumb,
To her a feeling that will never numb,
I walk on mighty and tall.
Within this jungle, a gloomy haze mirrors a gaze,
The past is catching the present,
This I will not just call a phase,
The sky is vast, but a deformed crescent,
I walk on mighty and tall.
I shall wonder then in the thieving breeze,
For where I stand, a distance from the shivering trees,
Like a great and wondrous tease,
They sway and wave those dotted leaves,
And like the bird resting pert and who believes…
“You merchants of deadly disease,
I too shall wheeze in this time of despair.”
Life empty now and so bare, I ask myself:
“Oh why did I even dare”?
Goodbye today, goodbye tomorrow,
Stealing from you is not to borrow,
Oh no, it really is not fair,
Gaia’s tree I leave you be,
I set you free.
Kenya is a beautiful nation with a beautiful future, but to accept and address the fact that we are capable of both bringing peace in all areas of life and also destruction is the most important two facets of humanity. Our imagination can only stretch so far, and the responsibility to reality brings us back again to seek out this utopian image.
We get to a point where our imagination is better expressed in Poetry. Goodbye today, goodbye tomorrow, stealing from you is not to borrow.