Kunga Kihohia is an African returnee and the founder of Back To Nature farm. This is one of the largest organic farms in Kenya. He decided to take the bold step of returning to his ancestral home against all the negative publicity of the continent by the Western media. Africans in the diaspora and some African Americans dream of one day visiting or returning to Africa. However, the fear of the unknown keeps holding them back.
Many get afraid after watching decrepit scenes and hear people dying from hunger in the continent. When these cases are aired almost always, many think that the entire continent is like that. However, that is not true. There are lots of opportunities and good things that Africa has to offer. Kunga Kihohia discovered that when he visited his ancestral country, Kenya. In this article, we explore his background, life in the US, and reasons for returning to Africa. Also, read on to know more about his organic farm, dreams, and thoughts about Africa.
Kunga Kihohia’s Background
Mr. Kunga was born and raised in South Florida. He was born to Kenyan parents who hailed from Muranga in Central Kenya. His father moved to the US and settled in Northern Carolina. Later on, his father visited South Florida. When he saw the gorgeous beaches in Miami, he could not leave the city. He decided to settle there—and his wife joined him. Afterward, Kihohia and his siblings were born.
Kunga spent a greater part of his early years in Miami, Florida. However, he visited his ancestral country, Kenya, for the first time when he was ten years old. Kihohia recalls that his first trip to Africa was like an adventure. It was probably the greatest experience of his life at that time.
He spent five years in Kenya and learned to speak Kiswahili as well as his mother tongue—Kikuyu. Also, this was the time he got a chance to connect with the African culture and get into the farm for the first time. This young returnee came into contact with cows, farmyard manure, chicken, and farm produce. This first visit played a huge role in proving that Africa has many opportunities that any returnee can exploit.
Journey to the United States
Kihohia returned to the United States at the age of 15 and completed his high school studies. Later on, he joined Florida International University. After completing studies, he started working in the banking industry. He worked with Wells Fargo, one of the largest financial service companies in the US. As years went by, he climbed the corporate ladder and got to a point of earning $50,000 yearly. With such a good job in his late twenties, he was a very contented man and lived a happy life.
But at some point, something crystallized in his mind. Mr. Kunga started thinking that his job was not worth it because of four reasons. Firstly, it used to take the best 8 to 10 hours of his day. Secondly, the employer was not paying what Kihohia really thought his service was worth. Thirdly, he felt that the job was not in line with his God-ordained purpose in life. Lastly, the job was affecting his heath because he gained a lot of weight—nearly 350 pounds.
So, he decided to leave his job, but, he did not have the guts to quit. So, he started giving the employer reasons to fire him. This African returnee began showing up at work two hours late and taking three-hour lunch breaks. This worked for him because, in the end, he got fired.
Homeless in the US
Kihohia got into one of the worst situations in his life, especially financially. At age 29, he had no job, and that meant no income. He tried to start several businesses but none of them succeeded. As a result, Mr. Kunga became homeless in America and began sleeping in his car. He says, “this was the most difficult time in my life because I didn’t understand how, after everything I have done in my life…how did I end up there.”
He decided not to go back to his parents’ home because they did not get him into that situation. Kihohia said to himself, “I got myself in this situation, I have to take responsibility to get myself out.” So, Kunga Kihohia started reading a lot of literature about becoming successful in life. He read books such as Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and How to Win Friends and Influence People.
With this knowledge, he resolved to change his financial situation. He decided to remove money as an issue forever in his life. He found mentorship as well as business partners and together they developed a business model. After about five years, he achieved the financial success he had visualized.
Reasons for his Return to Africa
Even though Kunga Kihohia had become successful once again, he was still struggling with obesity. Also, he was discontented at making a whole lot of money out of something that he didn’t love. These issues triggered the desire to return to what he loved and natural, holistic living.
Along those times, the Africa rising narrative started to gain popularity in the West. Economic experts and popular publications started talking about what was happening in Africa. Kihohia was one of the people in the West who started to read and investigate a lot of developments that were happening in Africa. They read about African companies like Safaricom and digital money services.
Mr. Kunga was moved by all that was happening in Africa. As a result, he decided to abandon the American lifestyle and pursue what he loved—natural, holistic living. This resolution made him a returnee. He made up his mind to return to Africa after being away for 16 years. He thought that returning to his ancestral home would offer the opportunity to see what was happening on the ground and not just reading online. According to him,
“Every human being on this face of this earth has a place they call home. In that regard no matter where you may travel around the world…for me, Kenya, Africa is, was, will always be home.”
Right before journeying to Kenya, he went to Hippocrates Health Institute and enrolled in two programs; the life transformation and health educator program. Afterward, he graduated as a health educator and got certified in raw food preparation. So, Kihohia thought that he could save his life from obesity and pre-diabetes by pursuing organic farming. Likewise, he could motivate others to practice natural, holistic living. This became the genesis of the Back To Nature movement.
Back To Nature Organic Farm
As a returnee to Africa, Kunga Kihohia established his Back To Nature organic farm in Kenya in 2014. This 20-acre farm is located in the Kabati area in Muranga county. It is based on the ideology that the closer we are to nature, the more whole, happy, at peace, and at ease we are.
Mr. Kunga says that the more we move away from organic to inorganic things, the more we become dis-ease or unease. He remarks that dis-ease is the root word of disease. He emphasizes that the natural state of humans is being at ease. Uneasiness comes about when we move away from natural things. So, everything that is grown on this farm is organic. The farm grows a mix of different horticultural fruits and vegetables. These include cabbages, onions, bananas, passion fruits, avocados, maize, and beans.
Healthy bacteria that are grown organically on the farm are used to build up the farm soil. These bacteria make the soil fertile and also help to control pests and diseases. Also, this African returnee makes natural fertilizer on his farm using cow dung, healthy bacteria, and some other natural ingredients. Organic fertilizer is used on the farm to grow crops without spraying inorganic chemicals.
Other than crop farming, there are some goats, chickens, and of course cows on the farm. Their wastes come in handy when it comes to making organic fertilizer. Through farming, Kihohia’s dream is to motivate people across the world to maintain their health. He also wants to help people who have lost their health to regain it. Kihohia states that there is nothing more rewarding than getting your feet dirty and connecting with the soil. This is because we get food from the soil. He says that farming in African soil is a beautiful thing to do.
Kihohia clearly demonstrates that a returnee to Africa can abandon the Western lifestyle and still live a happy life. Africans have a civilizational inheritance that has been disinherited from them. Part of claiming that heritage is returning to the continent mentally and then physically. Kihohia argues that most Africans living outside African are disadvantaged. However, they can realize their fullest potential in Africa. He calls on Africans to reconnect with mother nature. Also, he invites Africans in the diaspora and African Americans to visit the continent and have a real African experience. Watch his interview below.