People across South Africa and the world are organizing activities promoting volunteerism and activism, which the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) has asked to be associated with the theme “Climate, Food and Solidarity”. NMF has advocated for tree planting and support for community food gardens around the world.
We welcome all of these activities and encourage you to participate. But did Mandela consider it sufficient when compared to the scale of the climate crisis and the intransigence of governments and fossil fuel companies to take measures to mitigate it?
Mandela should not turn into something “safe” and forthright, especially at a time of tough decisions and leadership.
Nelson Mandela was more than a kind and generous man. He was a revolutionary, willing to make difficult and unpopular decisions, and to make great sacrifices – including his own life – to advance equality and human rights in South Africa and the world.
As stated in Johnny Steinberg’s latest book, Winnie and Nelson: Marriage PortraitIn 1960 it was Mandela who led the ANC – against the initial resistance of his comrades – in turn to armed struggle, after the ANC rejected all efforts at reform and negotiations and turned its weapons on peaceful demonstrators.
Likewise, it was Mandela who led the march for peace, again against the initial resistance of his comrades. By then, peace had become the radical alternative to fight for.
For this reason, for the sake of truth, the A crucial aspect of Mandela’s legacy that must be preserved and cherished is his radicalism. Mandela should not turn into something “safe” and forthright, especially at a time when he needs tough decisions and leadership. Not only was Mandela short of 67 minutes, but he was talking about life moving towards justice on all fronts as injustice raises its head.
This is one reason why linking the NMF to Mandela Day 2023 with the explosive climate crisis should not be overlooked or greenwashed.
The world is burning
It is important because this year’s Mandela Day falls at a time of deepening climate catastrophe. For a combination of natural and man-made causes, global warming is now accelerating at a frightening rate and is already taking a heavy human cost. Over the course of several days last week, the world recorded its hottest temperatures so far.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: Maps: extreme weather and climate phenomena around the world
Terms like ‘Heat storm’ (sweeping through southern Europe today)And ‘Rain bombs’ (killed 14 drivers yesterday in a highway tunnel in South Korea) It quickly entered our lexicon and became the new “normal”.
This is not normal!
On the contrary, in this context, the oil companies that have contributed the most to the climate crisis, the fossil fuel industries and the men who own them – Shell, Total and BP – have never been so good. While millions suffer displacement, homelessness and ill health, they reap absurd, illegal and immoral profits – More than two billion dollars in 2022.
And As described in this article in the United Kingdom guardianAnd This is made worse by the fact that they are relying on the behaviors and business models that are causing this crisis, rather than following scientific evidence and quickly moving to alternatives.
according to Watchman:
BP lowered its previous target of cutting its emissions by 35% by 2030, saying it would aim for 20-30% cuts instead. ExxonMobil Quietly withdraw financing for a massive publicity effort to use algae to produce low-carbon fuels. paralyzed announce It will not significantly increase its investment in renewable energy this year, despite previous promises scale down its emissions.”
In addition, they use their undue influence and power over governments to make sure that governments do the same, and Backing off the very weak pledges they made as part of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
King Coal and Big Oil threaten millions of lives and livelihoods and, as in Mandela’s time, it is the weakest who will suffer the most. For example, it is now The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are 44 million displaced people in sub-Saharan Africamany of which are due to the climate crisis and food insecurity.
So, what would Mandela do and say at this moment?
This weekend I participated in a discussion I organized Extinction Rebellion (XR) in Gauteng. Activists have been debating when civil disobedience is justified and how to carry it out effectively. It followed a recent protest organized by XR against Standard Bank at its Rosebank, Johannesburg headquarters, which made international news when veteran activist Kumi Naidoo was manhandled from the lobby.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: Kumi Naidu was forcibly removed from the Standard Bank headquarters after protesting against the crude oil pipeline project
xr, Green areaThe Climate Justice Coalition and other organizations are advocating for it Standard Bank ends its financing of the East African crude oil pipeline project.
Despite what governments may say, it has been nonviolent acts of civil disobedience that have so far drawn most attention to the climate crisis.
So far their protest has fallen on deaf ears. As a result, XR plans to ramp up its campaign of civil disobedience targeting the bank, as well as fossil fuel companies and government gridlock.
What would Mandela say?
Where action within the law fails to effect change, nonviolent civil disobedience has a long tradition of action calling attention to injustice and calling for action. As Kumi Naidu says in an article in a recent book, The Revolution Will Not Be Litigated: People Power and Legal Power in the Twenty-First CenturyShe has communicative power. He quotes the American historian Howard Zinn as saying that in moments of existential crisis “the problem is not civil disobedience. The problem is civil obedience.”
Despite what governments might say, it was security The acts of civil disobedience that have so far drawn the most attention to the climate crisis, be it The school strike was started by Greta Thunbergthe protests organized by Extinction Rebellion and more recently the vandalist protest in several European countries by pro-individuals Just stop the oil.
Is this civil disobedience justified? of course it is. A small amount of civil nuisance at a sporting event or art fair doesn’t weigh much against the planetary issues now at stake. An even greater inconvenience will arise when outdoor sporting events cannot be held during the summer months. The fact of the matter is that fossil fuel companies are the epitome of what is abhorrent in the world: unbridled greed, selfishness, corruption, collusion, oppression, and authoritarianism.
Their companies are oblivious to human rights and planetary interests.
Three decades of appeals to reason, scientific evidence and appeals to their humanity do not move them. As a result, we are on the eve of destruction.
On Mandela Day 2023, each of us needs to reflect on the climate crisis and what we can do individually and collectively to address it. I think Mandela would have encouraged protests and called on people all over the world to join a mass rally against fossil fuel companies and those in their pockets. He would have been at the forefront of promoting safe alternatives to fossil fuels.
Even if you didn’t act on Mandela Day, think deeply about these issues. After all, nothing less than the future of humanity is at stake right now. DM