Friday, October 28, 2011

Youth from Soweto, Cape Town, Durban join “climate caravan” through Africa

Young activists from Soweto, Durban and Cape Town will help to blaze a new trail of awareness about climate change through Africa over the next month, as they travel from Nairobi to Durban in a “climate caravan”.

The caravan of 185 young African activists will arrive in Durban in time for a mass climate change rally hosted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This rally will be the climax of the “We Have Faith – Act Now for Climate Justice” campaign, led by African faith leaders, with support from their constituencies and many non-government organisations.

The rally will take place on November 27 - the day before world leaders start the COP17 climate talks in Durban. The “We Have Faith” campaigners, including the activists on the caravan, are demanding that world governments reach a just, ambitions and legally binding treaty to curb climate change at the talks in Durban.

Eight South African activists, from YMCA branches in Cape Town, Durban, Soweto, will fly to Nairobi on Sunday November 30 for the start of the caravan. The travellers aim to collect “We Have Faith” petitions and raise overwhelming support for the rally, on their journey.

They will also host several free music concerts on the way, including in Nairobi and Soweto, to highlight the danger of climate change and the need for world leaders to take action. In Soweto, rap star HHP will be one of the main artists, together with DJs from YFM radio station in Johannesburg. “This is a wonderful, amazing opportunity,” said caravan participant Davina Dawn of Kuils River, Cape Town. “I’m representing not only South African youth, but young people all over the world, as we speak out against climate change.

“We’re all coming together as one nation to make the world a better, cleaner place. This caravan is going to make us all aware that climate change is real, and if only we stand together and work together, we really can make a difference.”

Said Ayanda Mabanga, who lives in Phoenix, Durban, and works at the Student YMCA in suburb Glenwood: “Youth care about things like music, more than about serious issues like climate change – but they would care, if they really understood how important it is.

“This campaign is going to be fun. We will be using music to get young people really interested. And we really need to get this message out there.”

Nomakhaya Makhoba of Orlando East, Soweto, says local youth are well aware of climate change “because we never know what season it is in South Africa, because the weather is so strange. It’s affecting all of us, every day.

“We are so taking this issue on board, especially in Soweto,” she said. “There’s going to be a big concert here, and I hope to be singing in it, as I am a vocalist.”

“I’m so so happy – just ecstatic - about going on this caravan,” she added.

South African rap star Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP) is among the artists who will perform at the Durban rally in Durban, at which Archbishop Tutu will hand over tens of thousands of campaign petition. The chair of COP17, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has confirmed she will receive the petitions, and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change executive director Christiana Figueres has confirmed her attendance.

For more information about the “We Have Faith” campaign, log on to , follow us on Facebook (the “Have Faith – Act Now” community) and Twitter (“COP17ActNow). Watch the YouTube video of Archbishop Tutu’s call to world leaders after signing the petition on .

For interviews with the youth, phone:

Soweto: Nomakhaya Makhoba - O790407074
Durban: Ayanda Mabanga - O793587862
Cape Town: Davina Dawn - 073 714 0245 / Rufus
For more information about the caravan, phone:
Silje Ander of Norwegian Church Aid on 072 731 7279
For information about the “We Have Faith” campaign, phone
Jo-Anne Smetherham on 082 813 6444 OR
Illa Thompson on 083 326 3234.