In line with 350.org’s new strategy to shift our focus away from purely anti-fossil fuel campaigning towards solutions-based activism, 350Africa.org, in collaboration with local partners, held artivism actions continent-wide to celebrate Africa Day, 2023. Local partners used art, performance, and music to showcase Africa’s vision for a future powered by clean energy.
Nu Climate Vision held one action in Klerksdorp, South Africa. Klerksdorp, historically a mining and industry town, was founded in 1837. In recent years, many mines and power plants have shut down. The residents have since dealt with the harmful environmental effects of these extractive industries. From unrehabilitated toxic mine dumps to dirty air and polluted water systems, the people of Klerksdorp endure health hazards whilst those who destroyed their community enjoy the profits.
To draw attention to this and imagine what a Just Transition in Klerksdorp would look like, Nu Climate Vision rallied their community for a two-day festival of art-making, theatre performances and music. Local artists painted a mural depicting Africa as a lush green paradise where the children of Klerksdorp and countless other African communities can live abundantly and breathe clean air.
When speaking about the Africa Day event, Brighton Phiri of Nu Climate Vision said,
“So many of our communities’ stories contain suffering and negativity about the future. The mines and fossil fuel industries have left our town with very little. Our hope is to use art to portray the possibilities and potential of our community if we adopt renewable energy and restore our hope in the future.”
The artivism event helped revitalise the community’s push for a just transition towards renewable energy and illustrated ways to use creativity and fun to build a stronger climate justice movement.
Klerksdorp is an example that illustrates how South Africa’s climate and energy crisis is an intersectional problem that spawns unemployment, poverty, and inequality. To address these pressing concerns effectively, it is imperative that the South African government embraces the tenets of a Just Transition. This transition must encompass principles such as equity, fairness, participation, and transparency. A Just Transition holds the promise of not only fostering economic growth and development but also generating employment opportunities while simultaneously combatting poverty and inequality.