by wasy tesfa
Sometimes when discussing climate change, or contamination by nuclear waste, my fellow Ethiopians would say to me. “Why are you wasting your time on this when the country is falling apart because of Ethnic strife?” or they would say “Yes I hear you but we can deal with this later”. They would say focus your energy on the political situation of the country, focus on working for a peaceful resolution to what is happening. But what I would like to remind my friends is climate crisis is a global phenomenon, nuclear contamination is a global phenomenon and is happening right now. And Africa is smack in the middle of it all!
The worst effects of the climate crisis is in Africa. The beginning signs of the impending drought and consequently hunger is looming over Africa. The Sahel, East Africa _ Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya will be affected and in some cases already are. Unless we deal parallel with these issues with whatever else we are dealing with, there can be no separate political resolution to whatever it is people think should be on the agenda for progressive minds.
The same goes for the nuclear race which lately has discovered Africa, while it is winding down in Europe, North America and Japan, yes Japan! With the Soviet Union signing nuclear deals with countries all over the continent, including Ethiopia, unless stopped, Africa will be the most contaminated land on this planet! It does not matter how late Africa got into the race, with the infra structure we have and the lack of expertise, and political corruption, corporate greed, it does not bode well. There is no scientific community or a sophisticated monitoring watch dog to protect the environment or life forms of any kind. Some of Ethiopia’s neighbors have become dumping grounds for nuclear waste. In some cases, there are abandoned mines that have stopped smack in the middle of production for one reason or other including because the money ran out and the big European or Soviet partner has no funds to salvage or leave the land rehabilitated. Case in point the gaping uranium holes in Namibia.
I think the struggle to save the planet and our children’s future goes beyond Ethnic and national boundaries. If we could bring that into the fore of our focus, I also see a future of a unified people working towards the same goal. I think it is worth a try. Let us start by educating ourselves. Let us listen to indigenous people all over the world ours included. Let us listen to the monks witht their “tree islands” in the picture here, who are trying to save the forests around their monasteries against big agro-business listen to the people of Gambela whose forests have been destroyed to make way for food production for the Arab world. And through this life afirming activity let us join other forces on the planet for our common destiny.