Yesterday I spent half a day in the Kwazulu Natal university of Durban. I walked around, had food (Curry and rice, sold by an Indian couple. I would have much rather preferred local food, but there wasn't any!) in a small stall and looked for people I could have a conversation with.
I didn't have to try too hard. Scattered in groups small and big, there were over 2 hundred young people. Some of them were from South Africa, while some came from other countries. Some were students, others had a job. But in Durban, they were all for the COP17 - talking, shouting slogans, rapping, crooning, dancing about Climate Change.
|Students putting up posters at the bus stand. 'Climate Change is eating our jobs,' they say. |
It reminded me of our own India Against Corruption movement in August, when the youth of India took to the street, in support of the Jan Lokpal bill/anti-corruption legislation.
One of them was Misi - an energetic young man who had just graduated in journalism.With him was his nephew - another young journalism graduate. Both are here to demand action on climate change.
I want to know what Misi meant by action.
"People here are bored with the big words. We want Zuma (president Zecob Zuma) to be a true leader and make sure COP17 is a success. We want South Africa to set an example in taking positive action."
|Voice of the Africa Youth has logic and passion. But does it have the force to make others stop and listen?|
Emotional enough, but not quite clear yet. So I move on and meet Clement - a young man who traveled all the way to Durban from Malawi and Maria, who came from Guinea Bissau. They tell me that climate change is effecting African youth like never before; dead farms and dried water bodies mean loss of resources, lack of jobs which are turning the youth into climate refugees.But, as the host country, South Africa must make some extra effort to make sure that this summit took a decisive step toward cutting carbon emission. At this point, South Africa is acting more like a BASIC member and less like a member of African organization.
"It hurts people because we feel South Africa doesn't care for its poor brothers.This is a golden chance for Zacob Zuma to go ahead, make a strong commitment and be a hero among all"- says Clement.
As we talk, a few feet away, a big group breaks into loud singing and then into a march. There is so much passion and goodwill and logic, I think,.This is the real raw youth power, talking real sense, highlighting real issues. But is anyone listening to these voices? If not, can they be like the youths of the Arab world and force others to listen?
That's a question I am yet to find an answer for.