ICIPE Mbita Point Field Station will always hold a close place in my heart.

Having competitively won an Africa-wide Post-graduate Scholarship, I arrived in Mbita Point on 1st November 1984, the same day as Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India was assassinated.

Visiting this weekend I find my mind full of memories of what it was like then… when there was no power, roads were terrible and when flooded, the Lambwe River was an agonizing nightmare. Frightful run-ins with night runners (they want form an association and later a university???) were rampant as much as snakes and bats. HIV arrived soon after and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But we came, we saw and we conquered.

Nine months after I arrived, later I was sponsored by ICIPE to the University of Auckland, New Zealand where I earned my PhD.

So Mbita will remain my alma mater. For it is here I understood Thomas Risley Odhiambo’s vision of trying to break the perpetual cycle of poverty that insect vectors such as ticks, mosquitos and tsetse flies reign havoc on an already resource-marginalized community. Such was his passion that he fired my imagination, mentored me and became my friend. A real first class human being, TRO was!

I made many friends here such as Francis Omeno Onyango who is my host this weekend. Another first class human being.

But there were lighter moments. Full of mirth, I recall when an ICIPE Land Rover was taken for a wash at the lakeside only to collide with a traditional canoe that was landing fish. The rover suffered one smashed headlight. Much legal debate followed: should marine law or traffic rules be applied?

Much Later, in 2001 this station was to become the sojourn of the ProPerArt Creations team of Conrad and Rosemary who were writing the epic drama `Slow Down My Teacher (ProperArtCreations.co.ke).

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