It was indeed a global day of action with thousands of people that turned up to march together in solidarity for Climate Justice to the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban.
This was ahead of the second week of the COP17 when the Ministers and President will be joining in the negotiations. If people in the march were the decision makers then by today there would be a fair legally and equitable global climate agreement.
“Support Women Farmers”, “Reclaiming our Future”, “Climate Change Kills Me”, “Grow Food Not Emissions”, “Respect the Earth; Stop Pollution”, “Listen to the People, not the Polluters”
...these were just some of the messages that came out clearly from the people that endured a 7km march from Botha’s Gardens/King Dingzulu at 9:35am to ICC at 1:40pm.
I could see the strength of the music in South Africa. There was no need for music systems to accompany the march because all the way men, women and children, young and old, were singing questioning, yet encouraging songs to carry them through a moment of wishing that the world leaders would not only hear but listen and respond to the voices of the people.
One of the women from the Rural Women’s Assembly interpreted a song that seemed extremely popular through all the blocks - “What have we done to deserve this…?”
It was definitely fun listening to the wonderful voices of the women with the reality of the hardship they face clearly expressed in the tone and emotion of the songs. This left me wondering why the struggle for climate justice has to be this hard.
Nevertheless, Dominica Shumbaa, a woman farmer from Zimbabwe, clings onto some thread of hope:
Hope is still alive and that is why I march today.
"I will keep on doing all I can," Dominca continued, "such as manually harvesting water and watering my plants, as I have the responsibility of feeding my children and the rest of the family, while I wait for a response from the people making the decisions in the ICC.”
These women work tirelessly amidst high levels of poverty to try and live positively with the effects of the climate changesthat are not their making. It is only fair that their lives are not made any more difficult than they are now. We need commitment from the industrialized countries to own up to and take responsibility for their extreme levels of pollution over the years. We need them to put money on the table to help the farmers like Shumba and others to access advanced irrigation schemes. Crucially, they must also radically cut their emissions to avoid worsening the situation even further.