Friday, 23 December 2011

Caravan Chat - A Discussion with the Second Oldest Caravanite

Written on the 10th December,2011

‘The whole idea of going to COP doesn’t make sense if we don’t negotiate with nature.’ ‘So how do we do that?’  l ask after hearing such a sweeping statement. ‘ We negotiate with nature by leaving activities that disturb it and nurturing those that encourage it.’ 
This was a statement that Mzee Charles made when l spoke to him about his experiences as the second oldest caravanite.

Mzee Charles right in the middle of Thundering Drums
I am finalizing this story as we go through seriously winding and somewhat bumpy narrow roads on our way to Morogoro.

‘You know,’ Mzee Charles raises his right hand to emphasize his point. ‘Catastrophes don’t have boundaries. COP has lost its sense that we were trying to arouse as we protested on the streets of Durban.’ He then reminds me of Japan and the catastrophe they went through even though they are an industrialized country. ‘It didn’t matter that these people have industries and a lot of money. When natural catastrophes come, they strike the poor and the rich alike,’ he insists adding, ‘These countries should remember that, when they say no to binding deals.’

Caravan Chat - A Spooky Tale from Our Travels

Written on 10th December 2011

Iringa, Tanzania. Courtesy of
A few minutes ago l was sitted next to the driver and catching up on stuff as he drove us to our lunch spot in Mbeya. I got back to my sit to catch a few winks only to realize sleep had eluded me. I then decided to write this piece.A story is told about the power company in Iringa; a strange story that started last night because someone ‘had to show us’ where the graves were.

As you travel, you might have noticed power lines that run along the road. This is a story about those lines.
Now in Iringa there is a story that a power company tried to run the lines over some graves where some old men had been buried. It is said that the power on those particular poles didn’t work no matter how much the technical people tried. And many of them tried. Get this, the power poles that followed the ones on the graves worked just fine.

Caravan Chat - Where Art Meets Science - Part 2

Written over a period of days starting 2nd December 2011, past midnight at University of Kwa Zulu Natal

A few days later in Zambia as we head back home…

Art at its best
Banda is an award winning well known artist in Zambia. To say that Banda is animated is to seriously underestimate his nature. He is also an all-round artist is one of the most active members who works with Kachere Studio. I met him in Zambia.

My first impression of him was that he was seriously soaked in his art that he almost looked like art himself. I have spoken to him on a number of times but this morning, we are discussing his art over breakfast here in Zambia, a place where l found that people eat caterpillars. We are at a beautiful hotel that we just checked in with the caravanites in the wee hours of the morning. I am privileged to write this in Zambia as we do our trip out of Southern Africa and into Eastern Africa. Only l didn’t meet him in South Africa, l met him in Zambia when they displayed their art during a caravan of hope ceremony.

Caravan Chat - Where Art Meets Science - Part 1

Written over a period of days starting 2nd December 2011, past midnight at University of Kwa Zulu Natal

The first time l saw them, in late November 2011, in Zambia, l thought, what great creativity.

About Kachere Studio and their Environmental Campaigns

Banda, busy at work
Since their inception in 2006, this team of experienced artists has created awareness on the impacts of climate change through their art. Their art is double edged; it presents both fun and learning, especially for younger crowds. Part of their art has seen them create figures of endangered species that they take round to schools and other outlets in their awareness agenda. They also do a lot of painting on clothe.

I find myself chatting to Alexas Phiri who is not only the lead in this team works under Kachere Studio but also an environmental activist. This studio has been running award winning environmental awareness campaigns called “HIGHLIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH ART” – GO GREEN – “Tiyeni Tibiliwile.” According to Alexas, ‘This is an innovative artistic campaign to increase public and political awareness and understanding of the need for environmental protection and sustainable utilization of our environment, and natural resources.’

Monday, 19 December 2011


'If you are talking about the African economy you are talking about Agriculture,'  Kevin Kinusu

'We cannot claim to have won, the purpose of UNFCCC COPs is not to emerge any group as a winner and another as a loser, but to facilitate the world to agree, and we had an agreement in Durban. Let’s focus on how the agreement can move as a mile in the struggle against Climate Change and its Impacts on our people'...Kevin Kinusu

Kevin Kinusu addressing a session during the just completed COP17. Courtesy of

Written on the 28th November 2011

Potato Council? That is the first thing l chorused when l first heard about the organization that Kevin Kinusu, the program officer represents. My next question was, ‘what does the Potato Council do?’ It turns out quite a lot. We sat for this interview at around 1am as we had some tea in Durban, South Africa. Yes, The Caravan reoriented our work times so that interviews could take place any time.

Genesis of The National Potato Council of Kenya

Caravan Dispatches - Flashback - Organized Chaos Border - Part 2

Part Two
Written 7th December 2011

Beitbridge Border. Courtesy of
So that stamped we go back to the buses and hear that we will leave as soon as we are done inside. Hope rises. It is now past midnight and we are really tired. We wait while some of us get inside the buses to continue with our naps.

Believe me, 5 hours later we were still waiting to be cleared. Problem? There are some manifesto documents that didn't come in copies from the south African border but are needed as a set by the Zimbabwean officials.

Caravan Dispatches - Flashback - Organized Chaos Border - Part 1

The Beitbridge Border – From South Africa Into Zimbabwe
Written on 6th December 2011 at Night

Photo of Beitbridge Border. Courtesy of
Oh my word! Who has been to this border at night? I am talking of the Beitbridge Border that we got into right from South Africa. I can’t believe it. There must be thousands of people at this border a caravanite says a loud to which l readily agree. As far as my eyes can see, there is a sea of both humanity and some very high tech buses.

These people are all coming through from South Africa to places like  Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia among other places. My friend warned me as we started out, ‘Maria, this is the busiest port within Southern and Central Africa if not all of Africa.’ We kept wondering, how busy can it get? Oh! well we are here and for real l have no idea what time we will clear out. The bus queue is so long that l have no idea if we will be here till next week. No l am not kidding you.

Caravan Dispatches - Flashback -Leaving Durban

Written on 5th December 2011

Durban. Courtesy of
I am writing this as we leave Durban and head into Pretoria. It has been a wonderful week full of activities. I sit here and think  to myself how beautiful to have gotten involved in such a historic moment…a road trip through 10 countries.

 The Trans African Caravan of Hope is indeed first of a kind in this continent. To be part of history, is to know you contributed to something positive in the continent. I have heard people say on several occasions, we wondered if you would ever make it. I guess when we started out we didn’t think how engaging this trip would be. I have seen people at their lowest and their best. I have witnessed kindness from caravanites one to another that was not expected.

One of the most beautiful thing is to witness a melting of the different communities into one African melting pot that is the Caravan of Hope. Last night one of the caravanites told me how they will miss everyone and how going  back by road will give them time to appreciate all that participated. See that is the thing. This morning someone told me, ‘l feel so sorry for you guys and the distance you have to cover.’ ‘Well ,’ l quipped knowingly, ‘it is shorter compared to what we covered on our way in.’

What people don’t get is that we almost are unaware of the distances. We are glad that we did this. The distance is long but we are glad that we were part of history.

By Maria Wanza

Caravan Dispatches - Flashback - Of Big Malls and Well Maintained Roads

Some flashback ....

Written on the 29th November 2011

Hibberdene, South Africa. Photo Courtesy of 
Today it is sunny in Durban. The kind of sun that you wish you had time to go for a deep swim. We are on the road heading into town in what will be a one hour plus journey. Our hosts have  been gracious at Hibberdene, the area we have been putting up.

Today we change places and get nearer to the International Conference Centre, where the Climate Change Conference is taking place. What has not stopped amazing many of the caravanites is the road network here. The roads are so well done. 

For Kenyans especially it is a culture shock to be driven around on roads that have no potholes. The drive we have is one of the longest l know yet if it were in Kenya it would take us more than 3 hours to maneuver through traffic. The lanes here are also a shocker. They are mostly four to six lanes. No not 3 for each direction but 6 for one direction. And no, it is not just for one road like that of Thika road in Kenya. It is most roads. The minimum lane road is like the one we are on right now. It is two lane. Compared to Kenya cars here move fast. Sometimes it is all the six lanes coming at you.
Courtesy of

I remember wanting to cross the 6 lane road yesterday from the conference centre and asking one of the policemen, ‘how do you cross these lanes?’ He simply answered, ‘ Wait until the robot stops them.’ The traffic light that is.Seriously, well done and maintained.  The country side is beautiful and clean. You should be here to see it.

Then we noticed something yesterday. The traffic police are mostly women, beautiful women in pretty uniforms and white hand gloves. Oh my recipe for accidents in Kenya. No seriously. These women are pretty. Just noticed them especially yesterday when we were leaving the conference centre. Oh and they stop the cars and the motorists stop. 

Can that happen in Kenya seriously? Yesterday we went out to print some documentation we needed at a mall that is near the centre. It was fully packed. I wondered aloud, ‘Don’t people have anywhere to go other than sit around and have coffee?’ To which the local who was taking around said, ‘well this is a popular bus stage hence the big number of people.

This place is big on malls.Oh they are big and splashy. While in Kenya we have just a few and others coming up, South Africa is way ahead. Indeed a culture shock for me. Note to self-Kenya needs to attract more investors.

By Maria Wanza

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Somewhere in Tanzania at a Roadside Cyber Cafe

The bus is hooting.We are in Tanzania just having eaten good fish and ugali for lunch.I have to run.I have so many updates to do but internet has been bad. So l  will keep writing.Expect to do a lot of reading....cheers and thanks for the support

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Caravan Brief - 71 Candles Lit In Honor of Prof Wangari Maathai

Prof Wangari Maathai. Photo courtesy of
A friend of mine said the other day of the Prof Wangari Maathai night that was planned for Kwa Zulu Natal, ‘Wangari Maathai belonged to all of us. This is because to all of us she meant something different to all of us.’
Last night over 500 people gathering from different nationalities gathered to commemorate the life and times of Prof Wangari Maathai. As 71 candles were lit several people gave testimonies of who Prof Maathai was to them. 

Professor Karanja, CEO of the Green Belt Movement was the master of ceremony. During a light moment he said that Prof Maathai was most beautiful at her angriest especially because how she went all out to make sure that things worked. 

High Profile Actress Visits With The Caravanites

When it was announced that an actress from China was going to be part of those people who would visit and have a chat with caravanites, we didn’t know what to make of it. We had not heard her name before. So we waited. I waited. Eagerly. Seeing that l have done some acting back in Kenya. I wanted to meet her. And so she visited with us. Hai Qing is an Oxfam ambassador and travels the world creating awareness on various development issues.

That afternoon, outside the Howard dome at the University of Kwa Zulu Natal, we shared our experiences from across Africa. Hai heard about women in Zambia through Milus a woman farmer who was part of the caravan. She told of how the rural woman suffers because of lack of access of modern facilities. She urged Hai, ‘to send the message to the right people in China that they needed to cut emissions.’ A woman from Lesotho who l will call Mama Anna had a request. She requested Hai to let the leaders at the COP 17 know, ‘that the group knew they were talking on their behalf but could they ask us directly what we think since we can talk for ourselves.’

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Caravan Dispatches - Farmers Wow At COP17

I have been debating for the last few hours or so whether to sit down and write this entry in the midst of drowsiness and fatigue. Don't forget sleepiness. Hmm! that is an English word seeing it didn't go underlined red at the bottom:-) Anyways,l have to tell you this even though it is a few minutes to middnight here in University of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.

Caravan Brief - I Am Not Here For Sympathy But For Justice, Former Ireland President

Her Excellency Mary Robinson
Her Excellency Mary Robinson, former Ireland president met with Trans African Caravan of Hope caravanites yesterday at University of Kwa Zulu Natal. Her Excellency was there as she put it, ' to listen to the caravanites and help them articulate their voices on the floor of negotiations.'


The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, PACJA, will host an African Farmers Kamukunji where farmers from more than 10 countries will be discussing the impacts that climate change has on their livelihoods, and their hopes for the future as African farmers need to adapt to the catastrophic effect that climate change will for future generations.

The kamukunji will be divided into two sections. First farmers will share experiences and reflect on the topics that are being discussed at the UNFCCC. Farmers will review a new publication by PACJA with Oxfam Interational and Kulima Overcoming the Barriers How to ensure future food production under climate change in southern Africa. Farmers who have read the report state that it has important recommendations for the entire continent for African leaders to build on in their country adaptation plans. The report presents interviews with over 200 farmers in five countries (Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and their knowledge about the climate change they are experiencing which is largely backed up by scientific data. 

The kamukunji will be made up of 60 farmers from across Africa. Many are travellers on the Trans African Caravan of Hope, organized by PACJA, a historic campaign trail from Bujumbura, Burundi to Durban, South Africa passing through Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
The meeting will be attended by other Caravanites, farmers, civil society, policy makers and leaders from around the world.  

The Trans African Caravan of Hope is an awareness road trip that went through 10 countries covering over 7000 kilometres to get to Durban, South Africa for UNFCCC COP17 meeting. This Caravan started from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and into South Africa. Other countries that have joined the caravan include Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Nigeria.  
Media will also get interview opportunities with farmers who will participate in this event.

Date – 1st December 2011   Venue – University of Kwa Zulu Natal   Time – 5pm – 7pm
For more information please contact
Maria Wanza @ +277 3910 9263 / Or Katy Mcdermott @ 0027796965332

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Caravan Chat - Where Marriages and Climate Change Come Into Play

Grace and Ronica during the Interview
Every time l thought of writing this story, a sly grin would cross my face. These two women farmers from Zambia literally connected climate change and the waning of marriages in their rural villages. I will come back to that in a minute.

Meet Grace Tepula who is small scale Zambian Dairy Farmer and a mother of five and who has 5 grandchildren. She also grows maize and groundnuts. And adds, ‘Maize is the staple food of Zambia you know.’ I nod.

We are standing outside the International Conference Centre in Durban, South Africa while having this interview. She is excited to be talking to me but has this expression on her face that says, we had better get it right in Durban.
Climate change has affected the community she finds herself in. ‘Climate change has reduced our milk from 50 to 60 liters a day to 30 to 40 liters a day, ‘ she says. Adding that the hot weather makes it difficult to grow fodder for the animals which are zero grazed for purposes of reducing diseases.’ 

Of the rains and expected harvest she says, ‘There has been a drop in harvest because of wells that are drying up.’ Maria, she calls my name. I gesture knowingly. ‘There has been reduction of water levels. The hot season that starts in August and ends in October has had an extension,’ Grace adds. This has been to their detriment. It has simply meant that they didn’t have fodder for their animals. 

Another farmer standing next to her quips in, ‘ It has also meant that we are buying the fodder at expensive rates.’ That is Ronica Mona who is a mother of 5 children and 5 grandchildren and who lives in Luanshya. Their faces defy their ages. I guess it is the jovialness they have as they do this interview or is it because they just had a demonstration where they demanded their rights in front of international media? I can’t put a finger on which. I am glad they are doing this in the first place. Back to the interview.
Grace tells me that commercial farmers are making a killing from selling them expensive fodder for their animals. ‘I would rather grow my own fodder to avoid the expense, ‘she says. Adding that, the big scale farmers are privileged because they are able to irrigate their farms.'

Ronica brings in the twister that l mentioned above. ‘Our men failed to dig copper because our mines were closed. The women through Heifer International got empowered and started digging white gold, milk,’ she says with what seems like a sly grin on her face. ‘ Our marriages are now stable and we are looking after our men,’ she adds. 

Grace who is standing next to her jumps in quickly, ‘ Men who don’t work in Zambia are called Loafers. These men experience inferiority complex when they are idle but because of the white gold they no longer are idle and broke.’ 

Adding proudly, ‘We take care of the animals, milk them and sell the products. After we are done, we bring the money back to the family and all is well.’ I grin. It is just the way they light up when they discuss this subject.

The white gold is however getting threatened by climate change. 

Grace tells me that every animal needs 40 to 80 liters of water on a daily basis. Something that is no longer viable because of the hot weather and drying up of wells. 

They have a message to leaders attending COP17. ‘Help us financially to cope with droughts and famines because you are the main emitters and therefore cause that greatest mess,’ says Grace.

Ronica winds it up by saying, ‘We want a fair deal. ‘ The interview is over but the women start to laugh in unison. I know they know. Ronica says as if reading my mind, ‘What we have told you about our marriages is true.’

By Maria Wanza

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Caravan Brief - Trans African Caravan of Hope Opening Ceremony Held in Kwa Zulu Natal University

We shall shout it loud. We must be heard
I am writing this piece from Kwa Zulu Natal University where we are meeting with all the caravanites who have travelled over 7000 kilometers to be here.I am sitted right at the back observing the whole room. It is electric with ululating women accompanied by chanting crowds. Watch the video

Crunch Time As Caravan of Hope Arrives in Pretoria, South Africa

This Piece is being written on our way to Durban at around 9.30pm on the 25th November, 2011. It has been a relaxed day today. As we drive for the next 6 hours, we realize we are about to descend on Durban and crescendo what has been a spirited campaign. This morning over 100 caravanites from the Trans African Caravan of Hope chanted demands outlined in the Africa People’s Petition as they waved placards and patriotically held their country flags high. This was outside the Union Building in Pretoria. 

During the meeting the continental coordinator Mithika Mwenda urged South Africa ‘not to let Africa down during this COP17.’ The group then picked on that and chanted it out with the realization that COP17 is just a few hours to kick off. The Caravan of Hope is travelling over 7000 kms by road to Durban, South Africa. The caravanites have witnessed what climate change has done in the continent including increase of temperatures in all the countries we visited like Kenya which also played a hand in the drought and famine that the country experienced early in the year, heard about Zimbabwe’s Veld fires, Uganda’s mudslides, Zambia’s late harvest due to delay of rains among others. The list is endless. 

This group presents a cocktail of the true reflection of Africa. Here we have farmers, youth, scouts, womens groups, religious representation, civil society, government delegations. These people come from both rural and urban area representation. 

Africa is diverse. For her to be heard during this COP17, diversity must be her strength. 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Caravan Picture Speak - Uganda Speaks

Setting Up
Vice President Ssekandi Signs Petition
Government Officials Meet Up with Activista Youth of Action Aid who organized the flag off event
Our gracious host in Uganda. She was lovely. You can see the smiles on the Caravanites' faces.

Caravan Picture Speak - Zimbabwe - Drums of Climate Justice Thunder in Zimbabwe

Drums of Peace Group Lead in Rhythm

The Drums of Peace is a group that communicates its messages through drums. They helped lead the caravanites in what turned out to be a rhyth thundering Zimbabwe.

Age Didn't Matter

Everyone Joined in
Hear Us
The participants held a procession on the streets of Zimbabwe before gathering for addresses by their leaders
And The Streets Thundered

We As Women Take the Brunt of Climate Change. We Shall Be Heard.

We shall fight for our future

Caravan Picture Speak - Bulawayo, Zimbabwe...A Spirited Dramatization of the Petition

This is Us

Here's How we Send Our Message

Here we go

Her Song, Their Song, Our Song
The above team is an award winning group that dramatizes messages. This time the group dramatized the Trans African Caravan of Hope Petition that is being presented to the incoming COP17 president, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in South Africa.

The song they did stirred a number of emotions. At first, it was anger of what Africa is being subjected to and a little while later, eyes across the hall were getting teary and hands were reaching for handkerchiefs or Kleenex, It was moving.

Caravan Picture Speak - Zimbabwe - Lest You Forget Our Petition

Here's What

We will Keep Repeating this Until We Are Heard
We are fighting for our future

Food Security Must Be Addressed

The Disease Burden Because of Climatic Changes is Wearing Africa Down

Caravan Dispatches - Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe What A Pleasant Aroma

Drums of Peace, An Entertainment Group That Engaged the Caravanites,Much to their Delight
So as it turns out Zimbabwe turned out to be one of the most hospitable countries in this whole trip. Only it caught us by surprise. The people were very helpful and friendly. 

Take our courtesy call to Davis Dumezweni Luthe, Town Secretary of Plum Tree, which is a border town between Zimbabwe and Botswana. This visit that came in last minute turned out to be the best ever decision we made. The town secretary of Plum Tree, which is 9kilometers from Botswana, is apparently a comedian. It was indeed a relief to have someone crack us up on this trip seeing that we had a long journey ahead of us.
At a meeting in his office, he noted in his speech that, ‘Every level of government must appreciate climate change and do that by mainstreaming it.’ He added that not only did Zimbabwe draw up mechanisms. The 7th MDG which speaks of Environmental Sustainability is a serious issue for them. He wound up the speech with teaching us what Plum Tree stands for Peace, Love, Unity, Manpower, Trust, Resources, Enter , Exit. To which he got a huge applause.  

Caravan Dispatches - Botswana, What A Let Down!

I started to write this blog when we were leaving the border of Botswana and driving down to Gaberone. But as fate would have it, my computer blacked out because it needed to be powered. 

So here l am about 5am the very next morning writing as we drive along some very clean and organized Botswana streets. I almost didn’t want to do this entry. The caravanites were and are not a happy people. A group of the caravanites, specifically Burundians and Rwandese were turned back and asked to go to the high commissioner to get visas for entry. Believe it we were so angry. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Caravan Chat - Remembering Late Prof Wangari Maathai on the Way to Durban

Prof Wangari Maathai
 PACJA will on 28th November 2011 hold a Waangari Maathai solidarity night in Durban, South Africa. It is expected that song, dance, tribute speeches will render the air as the Trans African Caravan of Hope caravanites remember and honor the late Prof Wangari Maathai who gave so much to the community she found herself in. 

 ‘If Prof Wangari Maathai was here she would reinforce messages that we have heard throughout from the leaders we have met so far. She wouldn’t be talking about Africa being compensated but rather that we as Africans need to look for homegrown solutions,’ Says Joseph Kabiru. He had the opportunity of interviewing the late Prof Wangari Maathai during his stints at both BBC and Nation Media Group. Joseph Kabiru is also a caravanite from Kenya.

I am talking to him whose article on Prof Wangari Maathai got published by the Guardian. He also had interesting perspectives hence my talking to him. His article can be found at
As a young man, his first impression of Prof Maathai was that, ‘she was the toughest woman in Kenya.’ She stood by her values and ideals. She was consistent in both her political and environmental battles.

 ‘This woman started to discuss climate change in the 70s way before the world had picked up on it,’ says Kabiru who grew up in surrounding area of MAU forest. His community benefited from what the government called the ‘shamba’ system where landless people were allowed to cultivate in forest areas They would then be urged to replace the trees. It was confusing for the community.  ‘The trees are growing, the crops are growing.  what is the farce about  forests?, ‘ The rural folk had wondered when in the early 70s the Late Prof Wangari Maathai started urging communities around the MAU to move away. 

‘The community didn’t quite understand the connection. It was confusing. The logic of the ecosystem didn’t make sense at all,’ says Kabiru. It also didn’t help much because the political elite painted her negatively every chance they got. But she fought on. She began working with women’s groups where she taught them not only the importance of trees but also how to plant and take care of them. So far the Green Belt Movement has planted over 40 million trees across Kenya since the 1970s.

Based in Eastern Africa, The MAU is the largest water tower in the region and its existence has been threatened on several occasions because of human encroachment. ‘All major rivers in East Africa are fed by the MAU, ‘ Say Kabiru adding that rivers like Sundu and Molo rivers are now dried up.’  Adding that if one went deep into the MAU one can’t help but notice that there has been destruction because of heavy logging.
‘Now looking back, she knew what she was talking about,’Kabiru adds.

By Maria Wanza

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Caravan Chat - Global Warming, Nothing But Destruction

                 The poem below was recited at the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe by 11year old
             Samuel Tembo from Sir Roy Welensky School during a brief welcome ceremony.
  This poem  was written by his father who urged him to recite it with a lot of feeling in it.

Samuel Tembo
Global Warming, Nothing but Destruction

By Samuel Tembo

Global warming, global warming, global warming
What global warming to talk about
What good is in global warming?
What beauty is in global warming?
Nothing but destruction

The protective ozone layer have been destroyed
The sun’s rays falls directly on us
Climatic conditions have been affected
What beauty is in global warming?
Nothing but determination

Global warming who created you?
You have opened the floodgates of hell
You have killed thousands of people
Millions have been displaced
Chickens and goats have been drowned
Worms and bridges have been swept away in floods
Lizards, chameleons and insects engulfed in flames
Yes, l see nothing but destruction

We have seen EL Nino in Zimbabwe, cyclones in Asia
Tonados in the USA, Veld fires in South America, Heat waves across Africa
What beauty is in global warming?
Nothing but destruction
 Let us come together as a community
Let us come together nation
Let us come together as one world
And stop  global warming
Because it is nothing but destruction

Fighting for Climate Justice for the Marginalized

 He fights for the marginalized with a clear focus

Joseph Mururu from Kenya is a caravanite with a mission. He is going to Durban, South Africa to fight for climate Justice especially for the marginalized communities he is working with. Joseph who works with the Shape the Child Charity Foundation tells me passionately that for years now they have continued empower marginalized communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, ASAL, areas by capacity building them on issues of food security. Shape the Child Charity Foundation also works with orphans and Other Vulnerable Children. They also have education and health projects. 

The Marginalized

Their description of marginalized also includes empowering communities leaving in the slum areas. He tells me, ‘The slum areas are also marginalized. They lack social amenities that a lot of people take for granted.’ Shape the Child Charity Foundation works in Kibera the largest slum in Eastern and Southern Africa whose education levels are low compared to their counterparts in other parts  of the country. They also work in Turkana, Isiolo and Kajiado district. He tells me in no uncertain terms, ‘we are growing the list because the need is great.

A Child Who Got Help

Singing About Collective Responsibility

This is our land This is our world what we do today determines our future.
Achieng Abura, Musician from Kenya

I am writing this enroute Bulawayo from Victoria Falls which is about 171 kilometers away. Yes, we are in Zimbabwe. The falls were beautiful. Pause. I will tell you about that in my next blog.

 Right in the heart of Zimbabwe achieng abura is belting out a song on collective responsibility in as far as climate change is concerned. If you don’t know, Achieng is one of the most prolific singers in Africa and who is based in Nairobi, Kenya. This mother of one is also an environmental scientist who understands the whole climate change issue.
I have heard her music  but the first time l heard her play live  was during a tribute to the Late Prof Wangari Maathai that was held in Nairobi Kenya. I was so tongue tied at her performance. Achieng has a voice that is so strong that l remember thinking during her performance it sounded more like a Bob Geldof concert, It was thunderous.

‘Matching your act after that was a nightmare,’ l told her the very next week as we sat in her cozy house discussing the possibility of working together. I was with my colleague, Ann, at the time. We were humbled that a musician of her caliber would even let us come into her home to discuss our project. Something that never happens with musicians at her level. The project? The Trans African Caravan of Hope, where she got to perform during the flag off in Kenya.  

So now  we listen to her. Her music is Trans African because right at the back of our bus, a Zambian 50 plus year old caravanite is dancing away. She is so carried by the music that she adds a rhythmic stump as she sways back and forth. I smile knowingly as all the attention goes back to her. 

‘I worked on this album for about a year,’ Achieng had told us when we met her. ‘It takes time to come up with songs that stay with the people, ‘ she had added. It is true. Her music is timeless and authentically African. The meticulous work included bringing in a musician from the Borana community to sing along in one of what has become our favorite song. Of that she says, ‘we had to get it right especially in terms of accent.’ 

She has two complete environmental albums and she is still doing more. ‘What is your drive?’ l remember asking her. ‘I do music to change lives. My music is about people remembering the message,’ she had said. I sit back and think as we get closer to Bulawayo, isn’t this what we need as we head to COP17? That the world remembers Climate Justice is NOW. 

By Maria Wanza