Annette is from Uganda, an East African country, and she is a climate activist.
“You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great,”
About her activism
Annette started getting involved in climate activism about 5 years ago. This was inspired, not only by her love for nature, but also by news that completely took her by shock. This happened back in 2008, when it was reported that environmental strains had led to crop failure in Maharashtra, India. In reaction to this, farmers committed suicide. The pain of this news aroused her fighting spirit, and she has been on her journey of realization, activism and creating awareness, ever since.
Some of the environmental campaigns that are close to Annette’s heart include:
The domestic use of plastic:
“If you can’t reuse it, don’t use it”
Through her email signatures:
“Do not print unless it is very necessary. Let us protect the environment together.”
“Where possible, we should avoid air conditioning in our cars. It’s better to use natural ventilation”
“Balloons are for decoration, nothing more. We need helium to remain available, in our space.”
“We all know that planting trees helps, but do we know which types of trees help absorb carbon from the atmosphere the most? Species like teak trees are a resounding ‘yes’, because of their high capacity for carbon sequestration”
“Taking action, should not come at a cost. Each one of us can help by using means accessible to us in creative ways, in order to rescue our threatened planet from ‘big-eyed’ abusers”
Her activism in her community
Annette’s parents and family have been supportive of her climate activism. However, she explains that her community has not.
Since she embarked on her journey, Annette has given her time and shared her passion with others. She has accomplished the following on a personal level:
Created awareness by informing or warning
Encouraged others to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ and take action!
Been involved in mentorship
What has she accomplished on a community level? She has created awareness among laywomen, young girls and the youth in her community. Many of them now know about climate change, and the ecological and social challenges it poses to them and their community. They now understand why the problem exists and why they should not endeavor to be part of the problem, but part of the solution to rescue the planet.
In addition, Annette has had NGOs reach out to her for the online/digital support of their activities. Therefore, despite the health crisis, she remains focused on her journey.
Some companies in Uganda have caught Annette’s attention, because they run activities that are destructive to the environment. That is, Coca-cola and Mukwano plastics.
She has engaged her agency as an activist to address their pollutive operations and even though there has been no ‘win’ yet, hope remains.
Level of awareness in her community
With regard to climate awareness, Annette says she would rate Ugandans as a ‘7’ on a scale of 1 to 10. ‘1’ representing zero awareness and ‘10’ representing utmost awareness.
She further pointed out that the level of awareness in her community affects her activism. This is because, some of the initiatives she engages herself in, appear ‘unreal’ to them. Whereas her efforts are worthwhile, there is a sense of lack of appreciation.
When asked whether the level of awareness in urban is more than that in rural areas, Annette said no, it’s not.
She reports that actions taken (or can be taken) by ordinary people in Uganda only centre around planting trees.
Challenges encountered as an activist
Some of the challenges she has encountered as an activist in Africa, include the following:
High expectations from upcoming activists
Limited financial support
Commercialized activism by ‘others’ which interferes with ‘real’ activism that brings about ‘real’ change
When asked if she thought African activists were willing to work with each other for the continent, Annette said ‘no’. However, she pointed out, that funding of strictly networked activism groups would improve the chances of collaboration among African activists.
Q & A
What is your definition of Ubuntu in activism?
Ubuntu in activism, is working together as one in activism. But this is still figurative and does not currently exist in Africa.
Regarding a post-covid ‘just’ recovery (an ongoing topic of discussion) please describe the better new normal Africa that you wish for:
An Africa focused more on technological advancements that solve our problems, that encourage less construction, that limit unnecessary movement and that render the gathering of people in order to execute plans, redundant.
You are part of a community tasked with rebuilding Africa for a better new normal Africa, what skills do you hold that you believe to be useful?
Training the community on computer skills, in order to equip them with knowledge on how to use ICT, at least the basics.
Why is awareness for climate change in Africa important?
With more awareness on climate change, its causes, its impact and how to become resilient, there would be a window of opportunity to rescue what remains of our natural resources
If we fight climate change, with coordinated action everywhere, Africa will:
Will be able to rescue a few of its ‘God-given’ resources, that are currently endangered.
Tame. Resilient. Footprint
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