On Sunday, 21st June 2020, we woke up to very sad and disheartening news that Mzee Abubakar Al-Amudy, the Chair of Save Lamu, had passed on. Mzee Al-Amudy had been unwell for most of the year, seeking medical attention in and out of the hospital, but unfortunately succumbed to his illness.
Mzee Al-Amudy was close to many of us at Natural Justice, having worked together through Save Lamu, an organization he helped found and which he led for more than 10 years. Save Lamu focuses on social, environmental and human rights issues in Lamu.
We first worked with Save Lamu providing technical and training support in a successful, inclusive Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) process that the Lamu community was involved in. The BCP was being undertaken in order to strengthen their responses to development decisions and the impacts that had been felt by the communities as a result of the development projects implemented by the government in that region.
We also walked with Save Lamu as they successfully challenged the decision of the environmental regulator in Kenya, the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), to grant an environmental license to Amu Power for the construction of the Lamu Coal Plant. It was during the latter case that he became the silent force behind a unified community that strongly championed against the proposed construction of the coal plant.
He was a giant in his own way: knowledgeable, quiet and a great leader who played a significant role in holding the community group together. One would liken him to a Baobab or Mugumo tree. He was passionate, a fierce advocate for Lamu, who gave his time wholeheartedly and provided firm leadership to his community.
His death is a big blow, and no one can fill his shoes. These words are not enough and are not going to be enough; and it is not because of the limit of time but the limits of language to begin to describe everything that this man was.
My colleague who lives and works in Lamu considers him as a mentor. Mzee Al-Amudy walked with him, introducing him to different community groups in the Lamu Archipelago.
Said Salim had the following to say about him:
“Where can I start? He was loving and caring and more of a father figure. He was a brave man to stand against corporates like Amu Power. He bravely fought to have his community get justice and was instrumental in the cause we were in. He was a mentor and not only the face of Save Lamu, but of the Lamu community at large. His demise is truly a blow. We shall all miss him and we will try and carry his legacy with dignity. I salute him. May he rest in peace.”
We don’t think there is anything nobler than risking your life for your people. He did just that. He loved his family. He loved his community; the people of Lamu. History will always remember that he stood on the right side when it mattered the most.
He now fills an honored grave and we all owe a debt that can never be repaid. As he rests, the torch has been passed to us all. Let us run the race fiercely and guard his legacy with honor.
From all of us at Natural Justice, we mourn with his family and with the people of Lamu but we also celebrate his life and all that he achieved. Rest in eternal peace, Mzee!