How Can Environmental Activists Get Beyond the 'Polar Bear Problem' in Africa?
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Despite the emphasis on dialogue, this is still Greenpeace. In the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa last fall, activists chained themselves to the gates of the enormous Kusile coal plant and hung a banner from a crane proclaiming, “Kusile: Climate Killer.” Three were arrested. Musana observed that South Africa’s history of struggle has taught people that if they want something, they need to protest — a spirit the organization hopes to mobilize in years to come.
Greenpeace’s International Director Kumi Naidoo is himself a South African and an early member of the Greenpeace Africa board. At a press conference Saturday on the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, which was visiting Cape Town, he recalled courageous activists like Nelson Mandela, who served prison time on Robben Island not far off the shore where the ship was docked. “We have to challenge the power of those who are benefiting from the current system,” argued Naidoo. “And let’s be very clear: the reason the system is surviving is that there are people in the oil and coal and gas sectors, and their allies in government, that are actually making tons of money from the current system.”
Referring to a new fishing campaign they are launching off the eastern coast of Africa, Naidoo noted, “In the past we probably would have focused on it more from a biodiversity point of view, but actually when we look at the connections between humanity’s survival on this planet and our consumption of resources, they are fundamentally connected.” Helping people to see the connections — their connections to each other and to the threatened earth — is a key part of the work of Greenpeace Africa.