Monday, June 28, 2010

The Great Green Wall of Africa - african unity in a plant.

Postscript: On 25th September, 2011, Wangari Maathai passed away after battling ovarian cancer for some time. I was deeply hurt by this loss. I loved her, but we had never met or talked. Yet I felt like she was my mother, and in most things I did for the cause of Renewable Energy advocacy, charity, and development in my own little corner here, I subconsciously always looked up to her. It was my "Mecca" to someday go to Kenya, meet her, and work with the Green Belt Movement for just 1 day.

Ma Wangari! The last of a good, great generation is passing away!! Send to us from the spirit-land just one more like you!! And let him/her come to bear more like you! You took on the whole world, and shook it. 

Forgive me if you were expecting my promised update on our national dumpsites-transformation ... but this topic has been tossing my salad for too many days now, and my research on it is not yet done, so I just had to talk about this!

Heard about our very own Great Wall (of Africa) ?
It's green ... and great.

I like to think of it as African unity in a plant. It's gotta be ... it cuts through from Senegal to Djibouti; 15 kilometres wide and over 7,700 km long, passing through countries like Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea ...Djibouti.

If you remember, in my March posting (Constant gas shortage in this age of RE techs (biogas)? What a load of crap!), I took a comic jab at the fact that Lake Chad was now a mud bowl, and that, the Sahara was "coming soon to a garden near you".
Turns out, I wasn't the only one thinking like that, or about those!

Yeeeeees .... Nigeria, Senegal and Chad are only a few of the countries desperately, and ambitiously spear-heading, and somewhat propagating this vision of planting a tree-belt across Sub-sahelian Africa, in a penultimate attempt at stopping the Westward migration of the Sahara, dead in its tracks.

But is this vision another african joke? Is it myth-alized, even before it has been able to grow roots (pun intended)? Or is it just a grand attempt that will drain lots of money, and then follow those notes down that bloody drain itself?
Just asking ...

The Great Green Wall of Africa was first suggested by the ex-Nigerian Prez Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2005, and put before the AU, but could not be developed due to lack of funds (surprise, surprise!)
It's been taken up again, with the full backing of Senegalese Prez Abdoulaye Wade (since Senegal has successfully promulgated a tree-growing, anti-desertification initiative for a number of years), who even made a presentation on it at the 2009 Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change.
It also has the anxious encouragement of Chad (who has seen such high levels of drought, heat, desertification, and the loss of one-third of its cattle-animal life in 2009 alone).

The estimated $100+ million funding was proving a problem, but just this month, the Global Environment Facility has pledged $119 million to the project.
Each country will receive their necessary share for the Green Wall (tree-belt) to be sucessfully planted and sustained in their territory. The focus is to plant indigenous, heat-resistance trees, and initiate green initiatives that will discourage any activities that will negatively affect the project.
I wish them well ... seriously. No joke. It will be a very very big thing to maintain, and they can ONLY do it, if they work together ... if they unite.
It will be amazing, to see these 11 African countries unite to fight the Sahara desert, and send it backwards until it is non-existent once more!

But I can not ... will not ... talk about tree-planting, and use keywords like Green, Tree, Planting ... without mentioning (with much awe and ground-kissing), my personal shero (female hero), Wangari Maathai.

Wangari Maathai is the embodiment of anything of this nature in Africa (and throughout the world).
She single-handedly started a fight to save the trees in Kenya, as far back as the 1980's- the Green Belt Movement, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work!
I would not know where to begin with her story, but it is an inspiring one, and one worth glancing at, so visit her website and read about her ... and visit the Nobel Peace Prize and dig into the archives for their piece on her, to find out why they felt she was worth the Nobel!

If nothing at all, you'll have something clever to talk about at some high-power function, one day!
Wangari's thoughts on what the G20 Summit on Economic Progress should strongly address:
Their blog (with videos and thought-provoking articles) :
Read her books, especially, "Unbowed" when you get the chance!

Her recent article to the G20 summit, especially, made me realise that climate really, truly does tie into everything that holds the world up, or brings it crashing down ... I mean, look at what happened in Jos, Nigeria and the Northern part of same Nigeria - when Christians and Muslims clashed in bloody fights, and people were shot to death in broad daylight (in the early months of this year), and when the Fulani herdsmen attacked a town and killed people in a most brutal manner, the reason being that people of that town, had allegedly, earlier killed some of their Fulani people.

Na true ... say de whole tin be about Muslim people for Jos, forcin' Sharia law for place where dem have Christian neighbours for 40% - 50%.
(trans: It's true that the Muslim percentage residing in Jos, forcibly declared Sharia law over the entire region, although they had a fairly large number of Christians in said area as well).

Na true ... say de whole country be ruled by government, and e-be secular state, so nobody go fit jos gerrup say e-dey declare any particular religious law for der, by force!
(trans: It's true that being a secular state, and a federal government, no party/entity has the right to enforce any binding law of their own largess, or authority, without legal government passage, nor the backing of all the religions and persons of that community).

Na true too ... say the Fulani cow-boys no have right come disturb in sombody e-territory like dat, and expect that dem go throw nice party give dem, with big-big cow meat, and fine-fine women. Abi dem roam ... so make dem roam through the town, and go!
(trans: It's true that the Fulani herdsmen who brutally chopped up people in said Northern Nigeria community, were an uncharactersitically permanent nuisance for the people of the community they accused of killing their fellow nomads - logic declares that you not expect them to welcome you with a big party, bountiful feast, and gorgeous babes. Further logic states that nomads roam, and do not make themselves a familiar part of the local landscape).

But if you bother to take a closer look at the geo-environmental set-up (I just love it when they clump words like these together, damnit!!) of Jos, or Northern Nigeria, you will notice 2 things:

1. Jos has a fantastically temperate climate, that makes it a fave for tourists, wealthy persons, and any other John. The environment holds appeal, and makes it a territory worth fighting for ... a.k.a. kill your neighbours or line them up and shoot them in the heads.
2. Northern Nigeria has got some shares in the prestigious Saharan Stock Exchange ... with some of the dry, arid, sandy characteristics which caused the Fulani herdsmen to start moving further inland Nigeria, for food for their cattle, being established more and more each year.
And due to the steady progression of the Saharan conditions further into Nigeria, these nomads have had no choice but to stay a few steps ahead ... unfortunately, cattle-odour, the large horrific clumps of dung they leave in their wake, the strong smelly musk and droves of flies wafting about the nomads and their cattle, are usually not what you'd call 'affable'; nor are they exactly the kind of pheromones that would make drooling, lovey-eyed fools of the the people of said settlement.

The message was clear ... we are already struggling to survive in this environment, we don't need more people, especially people with hordes of cattle that will eat up all our greens! And in the case of Jos and the Muslims ... we too we like this place; you cannot use 'takashi' to just make it yours, you know!
(trans of takashi: cunning/sly means of acquiring the upper-hand in a situation - physically or conceptually).

What can I say? Really ... at the center of all these horrible, bloody conflicts, is territory. Yes, really!
The increased possessiveness of space, due to the shifting and worsening situations of our environments and plant-life - affecting food, water, land, and resources ... those things which always lead to war and civil unrests. And we all know that without the stability of these, all economies begin to crumble. And if/when all economies crumble, the world caves in.

Damn! Climate does dictate the economy after all!
Someone please dial Toronto, and tell the G20 ... they've gotten their heads up the wrong hole!


  1. Golda! Good stuff.

    The issue about Jos and territory certainly merits a separate post! You can find more info about the Great Green Wall on the website, which you can find on the AU page on Facebook:

    It is compelling reading: I like the fact about "african unity in a plant". I think I will post this on the AU Facebook page. Check it out now!

  2. Hahaha! Maybe you oughta take it up, other than that, I'll be talking geography for far too long ... this is a green blog, no? ;D
    Thank you soooooo much for passing it on, and posting it on the AU pafe for FB ... I've been checking on the project, and will keep doing that on the websites you pointed me to as well.
    Thanks bunches, EK. xxxxx