It was easy to persecute me without people feeling ashamed. It was easy to vilify me and project me as a woman who was not following the tradition of a 'good African woman' and as a highly educated elitist who was trying to show innocent African women ways of doing things that were not acceptable to African men.
Having studied biology really helped me a lot because I quickly understand how biological systems work, and how they fail, and the tragedy of when they fail, because we are dealing with life systems, and when we hear that a species has become extinct, or is threatened, you realize that this could mean that this species will disappear from the face of the earth forever! So that understanding really gives you energy to do something to save it.
People need open space. People need to bring their children into an area where they can play without restriction." And I was told, "This is development." And I said, "That is not development, definitely not sustainable development, definitely not responsible development. People need fresh air. They can do without buildings. They can do without concrete. But they cannot do without fresh air.
Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don't need a diploma to plant a tree.
When these resources are degraded or polluted, then there are fewer of them for the rest of us, and then we start competing for them and eventually as we compete, there are those of us, who have the capacity, who have the ability to be the controllers, to decide who accesses them, how much they access, and eventually there is a conflict. Those who feel marginalized, those who feel excluded, eventually react in an effort to get their own justice, and we have conflict.
The way in which we can promote peace, is by promoting sustainable management of our resources, equitable distribution of these resources, and that the only way you can actually do that, is that then you have to have a political, economic system that facilitates that. And then you get into the issues of human rights, justice, economic justice, social justice, and good governance or democratic governance. That's how it ties up.
When I went back home, I was constantly being reminded, I'm an African woman, and so there are certain things I shouldn't do, certain ambitions that I should not entertain. That was a problem for me because I had never thought of myself as an African woman, never thought of myself as a woman to begin with. For me the limit was my capacity, my capability.
It is evident that many wars are fought over resources which are now becoming increasingly scarce. If we conserved our resources better, fighting over them would not then occur... so, protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace... those of us who understand the complex concept of the environment have the burden to act. We must not tire, we must not give up, we must persist.
<< previousnext >>