December 19, 2011

The African Youth Climate Justice Caravan comes Home

I always pride myself in my fluency and ease of writing, but this is one of those occasions where you have to reflect on the moment, look for the right words and savour the moment before setting to write. The ' We Have Faith-Act Now for Climate Justice'  African Youth Climate Justice Caravan, henceforth referred to as the Caravan, made its grand entry into Nairobi, Kenya, on 15th December 2011, after 42 days of road travel to Durban, South Africa, and back, for the COP17 climate change talks. And, as was the norm – defying all odds – the mood of the caravan youth was euphoric and greatly optimistic, despite all the fatigue from the long travel. The reception luncheon on 16th December 2011 was the actual testament of what had just happened.
The Caravan family poses infront of the Caravan trucks
 after the Luncheon in Nairobi
In the history of the African continent, this was undoubtedly the biggest youth mobilization project ever! Going through six countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa), the 161 young environmentalists from 18 countries held concerts and mobilization rallies, which were well  organized and attended. In Tanzania for example, the Vice President graced the Dar-es-Salaam concert, and pledged to build the capacity of young Tanzanians in adapting to and mitigating climate change effects, as well and redrafting the relevant policies to offer an enabling framework for the same.

Time to celebrate............
Now, some people may dismiss the caravan project as just another sensational youth project with no sustainable gains; worry not, for the policy contribution from the young caravan participants was immense. In Durban, the COP17 President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christina Figueres were deeply moved by the massive mobilization effort by passionate youth, and I can bet on the fact that this was a crucial factor in the extension of the negotiation timeframe, simply because the reality of the expectations of the whole world was laid stark by the caravan youth.

Fast forward to the Caravan luncheon on Friday; when the Caravan youth shared their awesome experiences, they were all underscored by the fact that they would get back to their bases and continue carrying out their environmental projects. The Government of Kenya, through the Office of the Prime Minister, was so moved by the success of the project that it expressed its intentions of being a critical component of the next project by these awesome young people; in addition, the government is keen on  building of young people’s capacities in solving the climate change challenges in the country.

In his speech to welcome the caravaners, Dr. Alex Alusa of the Office of the Prime Minister spoke of a passion he has seen in the young caravan participants and of how this passion will transform not only Kenya but the entire world. The energy of the caravaners is and will forever be ingrained in the ‘Shosholoza’  song that none tires of;  a song that participants learnt from their South African counterparts at the National Youth Conference on Climate Change(NYCCC IV) before the caravan started off and one that would later become a signature tune sung by youth in solidarity with the planet and its people’s at the COP 17 talks in Durban.

The sounds and sights of the 6 caravans trucks  may fade away in the distance and eventually die down but the impact and memories will never fade, that’s everybody’s view as we sit still and savour those moments that made the caravan a truly amazing experience! And as we slowly part ways after the luncheon one still wonders if it’s not a dream, and yes it is, a dream come true!

 There is strength in numbers, and the young people have realized this, and taken the onus to change their societies for the better. We are the leaders of today, not tomorrow, and if you can’t beat them, you surely have to join them. We Have Faith, and We Are Acting Now!

By: Kenny Liti and Winnie Asiti  

The tents where caravan participants spent their nights



  1. Wow! Well said Winnie and Kenny. With this... really, I feel like I have hope for the future of Africa as a continent and to hit closer home, I believe that KENYA will soon be in good hands when the young people of today will be taking over offices. Great job guys

  2. Camper vans come with all facilities for bedding, cooking and cleaning, which means you don't have to look for another place for all these. Besides being cost effective, you can park the van at a convenient place and take a rest if you want. And if you are feeling like an overnight drive you could do that as well.
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  3. Well, this is great. In Malawi we are creating what we call the MALAWI INTERFAITH YOUTH FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE, in short MAINY C-JUSTICE.

    I think the caravan shall never stop, and soon with our tree planting period officially opened, despite the eratic rains, we want to challenge our church and other leadership to plant more than 1,000 trees just this period. And we need a lot of support to coordinate this ambition. Again, in the near future, we are planning an IN-COUNTRY 'WE HAVE FAITH' CARAVAN that will travel from the northern to the southern tip of Malawi, bringing awareness in the local languages on issues of climate change and justice.

    I wish you all the best and God bless. KOCKROCHI.