Voices from Africa: Climate activist Vanessa Nakate joins Germany – Panorama – Gesellschaft

Voices from Africa: Climate activist Vanessa Nakate joins Germany - Panorama - Gesellschaft

Vanessa Nakate’s sweater bears the slogan “We can’t eat coal”. Behind him is the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine in the gray haze. The wind carries the monotonous rattle of shovel excavators from the other end of the coal mine to the edge where Ugandan climate activists stand. The sweater is somewhat reminiscent of posters that Nakate put up in front of the Ugandan parliament during his first protest. “Thank you for global warming” was written on it. Irony is an important part of his protest for greater climate justice. “I want people to think about what they read,” Nakate says.

Nakate is currently touring Europe to support the climate movement here as protests resume after the pandemic. In late September, he marched in Milan with Greta Thunberg as the head of the climate protest march. Earlier, he spoke at the Youth Climate Summit, which serves as a preparation for the World Climate Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland, in early October.

She is compared to Greta Thunberg in the media

He is often compared to Thunberg in the media. Nakate finds this comparison strange. Sweden and Uganda share a similar approach to a climate-friendly world. To understand how different the two young women are, it’s worth listening to their speeches at the Youth Climate Summit. It sounds outrageous when Thunberg throws “blah, blah, blah” at state leaders.

Nakate also challenges politicians, but she seems more diplomatic. Nakate describes himself as shy. But it has a clear message. In general, you can tell that she would prefer to talk more about the climate issue than her person. They block against him Less confrontational than its European counterparts, perhaps due to other laws governing protests in Africa. “We can’t flood the streets,” Nakate says. In Uganda, many young people are involved mainly from home. There are no climate strikes. Repeated protests have intensified in the East African Republic. For example, in October 2019, when students of Makerere University went on strike due to an increase in their tuition fees. This is the same university from which Nakate graduated with a degree in economics. During his studies, he also experienced the students’ strike and the militancy with which the police attacked the protesters. The university is located in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, not far from the district in which Nakate lives with his parents.

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sound of continent

In 2018, East Africa experienced what happened to Germany this summer on the Ahr and Erft. As of May 2018, more than 200,000 people were displaced by excessive rainfall in neighboring Uganda, Kenya. Nakate was already playing with the idea of ​​commitment to society. When she saw the pictures on TV, she had found her subject.

Women protesting in Uganda cannot be taken lightly. Clear role models are still prevalent in society. A woman who does not marry soon after graduating from university is viewed with suspicion. However, his parents support Nakate in his activism.

Two years have passed since the first protests, and Nakate is now one of the African continent’s foremost climate activists. He founded the organization Youth for Future Africa. Along with the Rise Up movement, Nakate also wants to provide a platform for youth activists in Africa to protest. In December last year, the BBC listed Nakate as one of the hundred most influential women of 2020. Her name is next to Opal Tomatis, the founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Belarusian civil rights activist Svetlana Tichanovskaya is also on the list. The opposition leader was considered a promising candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

She is the voice of the continent that is suffering the most from the effects of global warming and will continue to do so in the future. highest climate cost Shoulder be given. And this even though Africa contributes only four percent of global CO2 emissions. The percentage is likely to remain even lower. It therefore stands on the edge of sabotage at the Rhenish lignite mining area this Saturday morning. Europe is the third largest CO2 emitter after China and the US.

Vanessa Nakate and Greta Thunberg in Milan.Photo: Reuters / Guglielmo Mangiapane

In a second station, Nakate meets climate activists in a small forest. On the other side of the open pit in the village of Kayenberg. Kayenberg should give way by 2027 at the latest to expand the coal mine. The activists have built tree houses similar to the ones built in the Humbach Forest three years ago. Nakate is wearing black sports sneakers. American manufacturer’s lettering glows golden in the warm autumn sun. An extremely counterproductive shoe option for a muddy forest floor. Leonie Bremer holds her hand as she climbs the “Tower,” the largest tree house in the forest.

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In the afternoon, in Lützerth, a few kilometers to the south, Nakate reads from her book, which will be published at the end of the month. Demolition will start in the village from next month. Late last week the Aachen Administrative Court also allowed the demolition of the field against which the owner had filed a complaint. This clears the way for the extraction of the lignite deposited below. “What happens in Lutzerath has an effect on the whole world.”
Nakate wants to make it clear to industrialized countries that his continent must first bear the consequences of climate change. Africa is already facing 1.2 degree temperature.

Ten years ago, rising temperatures were noticeable in Uganda during the coffee harvest. The harvest of coffee plantations is decreasing. The economy of Uganda is dependent on coffee as the country is Africa’s largest exporter. In general, about 90 percent of the people in Uganda make a living from agriculture. Nakate wants to narrate them to the world. But Africa is often overlooked.

AP agency cuts Nakate from a photo with Greta Thunberg

Nakate first experienced it in January 2020 in Davos. A picture of Nakate became famous precisely because he didn’t show it. Cut Off You can still guess her sleeve and her hand, which she presses into her anarak pocket. The Associated Press, which distributed the photos to the media, said it was a mistake. Since the house in the background was a nuisance, Nakate was cut out of the picture by the photographer. This left Louisa Neubauer, Greta Thunberg and two other European activists.

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On Twitter, Nakate tearfully explained how worthless she felt at that moment. She accused the agency of racism. Thunberg responded to Nakate’s video. The Swede said that Nakate was the last to get something like this. Nakate later told Spiegel that he had received more than 500 emails within hours of the video. He was insulted in some of them. But there were also neutral voices who accused him of using the word racism.

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Now it bothers him to ask about this moment. Nakate, on the other hand, knows how to use Davos’s image for his activism a year and a half later. He believes Africa should never again be ignored when it comes to climate justice.

In a Q&A after reading Nakate, an activist asked what whites could do to address their own racism. Uganda responded that “white people should stop stifling the voices of those most at risk from climate change”. At the same time, he is concerned with freeing his continent. The traces of colonialism can still be felt in Africa. “We’re still learning to emulate the West in school,” Nakate says. Africa makes the same mistakes that industrialized nations do.

Nakate wants a big change

In Uganda, Total Group is planning an oil pipeline that will extend through Tanzania to the shores of the Indian Ocean. It runs along the banks of Lake Victoria. About 30 million people live on its shores. Asked if there were contingency plans in place in the event of an oil spill, he did not get a reply, Nakate says. Now she is standing in front of the country’s gas stations with other workers and is opposing the construction. “The population is seen as the enemy of progress,” Nakate says.
In Uganda, hopes for jobs and rapid economic growth are still tied to oil. “The investment is only worthwhile in the short term and impacts only a small privileged change,” explains Nakate. Many people notice hot and dry weather. However, very few people bridge the climate change gap, Nakate says. That’s why she speaks a lot in the schools of her country.

But Nakate wants more comprehensive change and demands that countries largely responsible for climate change be asked to pay. After all, it is the poor countries that will have to pay dearly for warming first. She wants to advertise it at the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow at the end of the month.

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