Who said Africa doesn’t care about Climate Change?

Published 10 December, 2009 by Kyla

Who said Africa doesn’t care about Climate Change?

So. It’s been a powerful 3 days. To mark the start of the Copenhagen Climate Negotiations, a week of Climate Activism in Jo’burg has also kicked off with a bang and is getting stronger and stronger as preparations mount for our Big Day of Action outside the Gauteng Legislature on Saturday the 12th December.

On Monday, Earthlife Africa Jhb and Well Worn Theatre attended a Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA) meeting in Sebokeng in the Vaal. Phineus from VEJA highlighted the social and economic plight of local residents and tied it very succinctly to the larger Climate Justice struggle and how what is happening in Copenhagen related to local residents.

Later that day, we also attended a community meeting in Kwa Thema in Springs where we discussed Climate Change at length: what it is and what it means for us here in Africa.

Tuesday began with us at the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee showing the film 6 Degrees and Africa Speaks on Climate Change. Makoma and the Earthlife team also visited the ‘Off the Ground’ group in Alexandra later that day for more of the same.

But today. Wow. Today was really something. A small group of us piled in a mini-van headed for Sasolburg, home of Sasol, one of the biggest polluters on the planet, where we joined with VEJA, Groundwork, the Sasolburg Air Quality Monitoring group and concerned residents of Zamdela to march to the Sasol Plant and stage a Die-In. We all lay down on the ground with tombstones above our heads that read things like: ‘RIP Mama Afrika…killed by Eskom, Sasol and Dirty Energy’ and ‘Sasol you killing us!’ and, my favourite ‘Don’t take us to the grave!’

Management tried, unsuccessfully, to move us but we stood our ground and remained by the main gate until an executive came down to receive our memorandum. More can be found here: http://www.news24.com/Content/SouthAfrica/News/1059/c1ae6d740c374554852791622a0e313d/09-12-2009-02-05/Stop%5C_polluting%5C_our%5C_air.

We also made it onto SAfm and SABC news this evening. Hooray!

I was struck speechless by how filthy the air is around the plant. 3 hours in Sasolburg and I felt nauseous and was reminded, in a very real sense, of what we are up against here. Sasol produces 72.68 million tones of Carbon Dioxide annually (17% of SA’s total) and wants to construct a new plant that will add a further 37 million tones annually.

We, as civil society groups, NGO’s and environmental and social justice alliances, cannot allow this to happen. It is unthinkable. When you are right up against the Smoke-Spurting Monster, you realize how unthinkable it is first hand. And it’s because of unthinking, unsustainable and earth-damaging plans like Sasol’s, that Copenhagen should produce a fair and binding treaty that limits such unchecked growth of Fossil Fuel-based industry.

What I was also moved by, was how so many different people, from so many different groups and backgrounds, joined together so wholeheartedly under one banner: Climate Justice Now! It is amazing how the various social/economic and environmental justice movements are married so well to the larger global threat of Climate Change. This ecological crisis that humanity is facing does not see race, class or gender, it affects us all, and there is no escape. No denial.

And, after attending a talk tonight on Eco-Socialism with Joel Kovel, during which we debated, amongst other things, the mingling of Red and Green issues, it was agreed that a new model/system is to be forged. One in which we count ourselves as part of nature and nature as part of us and move forward from there. We also talked about how this challenge facing us now, is to be viewed, however difficult, as an opportunity for new and encouraging possibilities. A different way of living where the emphasis is not ‘To Have’ but rather ‘To Be’.

Joel ended by saying that certainly, during this time of transformation our ‘Souls will be tested’. Which, I have to say, is exactly how I feel this week. Slightly scared. Slightly thrilled. But quite emphatically defiant and hopeful.

But I digress: tomorrow Earthlife will visit Thokoza and I will visit the National Zoo for more discussions and screenings and mobilization for Saturday. Also, there is the Jozi premiere of ‘Age of Stupid’ in Observatory. Then, Friday we will be picketing outside Sasol and Eskom offices in central Jo’burg as well as holding a Candlelight Vigil outside the US Consulate, a symbolic gesture to urge and remind the US to lead the way and not  block the talks any further or give into the very powerful lobbying from the major Fossil Fuel companies.

And Saturday. Oh boy I can’t wait. Singing, Dancing, Theatrics, a Die-In and the most vibrant, potent and heartfelt rally that Mzansi has ever seen on this issue. Oh Yes. Jo’burg is here, in amongst the global cries and civil disobedience actions calling for Climate Justice now!

You need to be there. If you care about your future, the future, ANY future in fact and your children’s, children’s future: you need to be there. Why?

Because now is the time, this is the place, and you are the person.

10am. Meet outside the Gauteng Legislature in Rissik Street.

Wear black and come prepared to lie down and take a stand!

Climate Justice Now!Global Green DealDie-in 3Mama Eskom

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2 Comments

  1. I agree 100% with this quote from the above newsletter

    —– it was agreed that a new model/system is to be forged. One in which we count ourselves as part of nature and nature as part of us and move forward from there. We also talked about how this challenge facing us now, is to be viewed, however difficult, as an opportunity for new and encouraging possibilities. A different way of living where the emphasis is not ‘To Have’ but rather ‘To Be’.

    And this way of living has to do with realising our full humanity as part of nature not its overlord. This has everything to do with being fully human and nothing whatsoever to do with race, culture, sexual orientation or gender.

    Published December 13, 2009 by Rory Short
  2. Hi Rory

    I don’t think I ever replied to your comment on our Sasol update last year. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my article. Stay tuned for more on the subject. The eco-socialist revolution is here!!

    Kyla :)

    Published March 15, 2010 by Kyla

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