Hashtag Jacaranda Propaganda - The Genesis
By Waithera Mbuthia
The Jacaranda Propaganda. You’ve probably heard about it or come across the Hashtag Jacaranda Propaganda (#JacaradaPropaganda) on Social Media. Better yet, you may have spotted the purple Jacaranda flowers shining in the sun and littering the ground in your neighborhood. Yes, the#JacarandaPropaganda is about nature showing off through blooming Jacarandas. In Kenya, they bloom in September through to late September.
Jacarandas are an exotic blessing that was left behind by the British at the end of their colonial rule of the country and by extension, Africa. As such, they are mostly found in areas previously occupied by whites-you will not spot a Jacaranda tree in the wild. You’ll spot Jacaranda’s in Kenya's urban areas of Nairobi, Nakuru, Nanyuki, Nyeri, Kiambu, Limuru, Tigoni, Murang'a, Timau, Eldoret, Kakamega, Naivasha, Kisumu and everywhere else the British settled or administered in the early-mid 1900s.
Jacarandas are attributed to Allan Cunningham, a British explorer and botanist who introduced this ornamental tree into the British psyche. The breed was then exported to Rhodesia, and then spread across the rest of the British colony in Africa. Across the continent, in the former colonies of Britain, #JacarandaPropaganda is something people look forward to.
In South Africa for example, in Pretoria, there are an estimated70,000 jacaranda trees that bloom in spring every year. This has earned the city Jacaranda City moniker. Here, you will even spot the rare white Jacarandas. On Herbert Baker Street in Groenkloof, there are about one hundred rare white Jacarandas. Annually, in October, hundreds of Japanese retirees fly in to see this profusion of purple.
Back home, Jacaranda trees are attributed to one Frank Walter Jameson aka Jim Jameson, aka Jacaranda Jim. Jacaranda Jim was Kenya’s Town Planning Consultant in 1926 with a mandate to supervise town planning. Being a Jacaranda tree lover and given his position, Jim planted as many Jacaranda trees as he possibly could.
In 2016, #JacarandaPropaganda started gaining popularity on social media in Kenya. When Jacaranda trees in Nairobi started to bloom to a seismic hue of purple in, KOT started taking shots of them and posting on Twitter complete with the Hashtag.
The trend has continued gaining popularity among Kenyans. The photos shared are just breathtaking and have even sparked conversations around preserving the environment for future generations. Sadly, most of the Jacaranda trees in the country have been cut down and we may not experience the blooming glory as Jim Jacaranda intended. But seeing that the hashtag is picking fast, there is hope that we can preserve the remaining pieces and even plant more. If not for us, as Jacarandas take 7 to 14 years to grow enough to bloom, for future generations.
In the meantime, go out there, bask in the purple goodness, take photos and join in the #JacarandaPropaganda bandwagon and feel free to tag us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram . Take time to look and enjoy the scenery of purple while it lasts. Then let's wait for next year and do it all over again!