Thursday, 1 December 2011

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.'

Paul Okong'o during an interview
During the participatory session she met and listened to a round of speakers who included farmers, women and policy people. One such farmer is 66 year old Paul Okong'o who has come to be fondly known to caravanites as Grand Pa Paul. He urged Her Excellency  to use her position and urge polluters to reduce carbon emissions and not to kill the Kyoto Protocol.

Milus, a woman farmer from Zambia urged world leaders to work with farmers from their level in order to tackle their problems effectively.'If you come to me and keep asking for audited books from a small scale farmer like me, where am l meant to get them?'She asked as the participants cheered on.

AugustineNjiamnishi, the Central Africa PACJA coordinator asked the audience not to seek sympathy from Her Excellency or any other leader. He encouraged Africans to demand justice since the culprits are known. He discredited those that thought climate change was an invention instead he urged leaders to avoid false solutions which Africa didn't need. In her wind up speech, Her Excellency Mary Robinson picked the baton from Augustine saying she didn't come for sympathy but to fight for human rights and justice. 'If your voice is heard directly there would be urgency,' she said of the limited involvement space for the civil society during this COP meeting.

She encouraged the caravanites when she said that world over the caravan of hope had received recognition especially because of how it brought so many people by road to Durban, South Africa for COP17.
Her Excellency also noted that farmers needed affordable renewable energy. This, she urged, would help farmers to farm and fish better.

The interactive session was wound up by Robert Chimambo, who is part of the PACJA steering committee. He warned that climate change was a 'titanic situation.' 'That even though Africa is sinking first, all other countries would soon follow suit.' He urged  her excellency to send the message to world leaders that in dealing with climate change, the people on the ground needed to be consulted if there was to be any success.'

By Maria Wanza

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