Climate organizer and Sauti Project participant, Winnie Asiti, along with 160 other youth embarked on the 15-day African Youth Climate Justice Caravan,  which took them from Nairobi, Kenya across several borders, through rain and shine and all the way to Durban, South Africa. Through these day-by-day diary entries we hope to offer a glimpse of what it was like to go through “an experience of a lifetime,” as Winnie puts it.

Kick off Concert in Nairobi-7th August Memorial Park- 6th Nov 2011

Its early noon when the concert kicks off. The atmosphere is rife with anticipation.The concert goes far beyond expectation, there are so many people and close to 10,000 petitions have been collected by the time the concert come to an end.

The Botswanan trio just blew it away with their performance which was punctuated with wild screams, reminds one of the world renowned’ The gos must be crazy’. Achieng’ Abura is cheered wildly as she explains the relevance of the campaign and why it is everybody’s responsibility to take action and address climate change issues. It starts with individual, she summarizes. Juliani the Youth Climate Ambassador brings down the curtains on the concert with his energetic moves and powerful lyrics. I dance away to the tune of his climate music, its simply irresistible! What a concert……I can’t wait for the Dar es Salaam Concert.

Day One-Nairobi to Arusha-7th Nov 2011

Its early morning and we are all ready to board the buses and leave for Tanzania. We have been waiting for this and finally the day has come, we are here! We leave Nairobi quite late but our spirits are not at all dampened and we look forward to a really fantastic day on the road. We are all happy and expectant aboard our colourfully branded trucks ‘We Have Faith- Act Now for Climate Justice’. The caravan snakes its way along Mombasa Road, then we branch off to Kajiado heading to the Namanga border. At the border we are met by the Tanzania ‘We Have Faith’ Campaign Organizing Team.

We collect a good number of petitions at the border before we head out. It’s been a great start. Across the border we head to Snake Park, Arusha and we are pleasantly surprised to find dinner ready. A pleasant aroma fills the place as we head on to grab something for our stomachs. Later we go for a tour of the snake park taking in all the different varieties of snakes here, for a minute there I wonder what will happen when natural habitats for snakes are all gone due to climate change effects.

Day Two-8th Nov 2011

Its 3am when the camp comes alive with people calling out for everyone to wake up. We are leaving camp at 5am in the morning. Outside there are heavy showers and we are all soaked up as we prepare to leave, breakfast, packed lunch then off we go. It’s a long day on the road with just brief stopovers. We get to camp at 11pm in the night, am on the chase car with the  last truck, we call it Nyota-Mt Gallopiggen.

The rest of the guys have already set up camp and had dinner, they have been to the beach as well, Kipepeo camp is next to the Indian Ocean.We are so tired that we hurriedly have our dinner and head off to sleep, its been one long and tiring day…..there should be better days ahead!

Day Three-9th Nov 2011

Dar Concert: We wake up later today, that’s to say at 6am in the morning. Its the day we’ve been looking forward to since the Nairobi concert. We get into our trucks, go across the ferry and hurray…we are at the Don Bosco, Upanga grounds. There are many people gathered here for the occasion, the MC is really working up the crowd.In the background soft music plays on.


The Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr Mohammed Bilal who is the Chief Guest arrives in a short while and the event is underway. The Vice President lauds the youth and religious leaders for this great initiative and goes ahead to highlight the measures Tanzania has put in place to address climate change isssues.

Then there is the concert where Ten Sing, Juliani, Simki, the Botswana trio as well as Tanzania artistes.

So many petitions collected we head back to our camp then to the beach reflectimg upon the days success and praying that all will go well…..Malawi here we Come…. ‘Tuna Imani-Chukua hatua dhidi ya mabadiliko ya tabia nchi’

Day 4-10th Nov 2011

Dar- Iringa

Thursday blues…..I wake up so late as I had slept even later. Its time to leave and the journey to Iringa starts in earnest. Down the valleys and up the hills…..beautiful place this is and I can’t help but marvel at the abundance of Gods’ creation in this part of the world.

We all collect petitions at each stop and hope that we have left an indelible mark. My Swahili is much polished am so proud of myself. We get to camp in the evening do an assessment of how the day was like and ways to move forward.

Day 5-11th Nov 2011

Iringa – Chitimba

This is one of the special stretches we’ve passed through. Imagine seeing elephants, giraffes, throw in the grand gazelle and zebras , then hurray thats the package….at no cost, in the comfort of the truck all lining the nearby bushes as if standing in solidarity with the campaign and wishing us well…..We have faith Indeed!

And now imagine a world where all this species are threatened because of climate change, when they can no longer be able to survive in an environment extremely altered by humans…….

As we pass the drying rivers which are supposed to flow into Lake Malawi, I can’t help but imagine a dry lake if nothing is not urgently done.

We arrive in camp in the evening and set up then prepare food. Today Ugali is on the Menu and you can see the smiles on the faces of the Kenyans….been long, so I guess!

Day 6-12th Nov 2011

It’s about 5 am when I wake up. It’s already daylight here and you would think its 8am in the morning already. The waters of Lake Malawi are insanely inviting so I go in for a quick swim which ends up being a totally refreshing and invigorating exercise.Lake Malawi has over 500 fish species in it, one of the largest in any of the lakes in the world plus it stretches for hundreds of kilometres……If ever a lake was beautiful.

We then leave and head out, going up the 28corners which make the road up the lake towards Mzuzu.

It’s a 2hour drive to Mzuzu and we stop close to a market where we  collect so many petitions, do the ‘It’s Hot in here’ flash mob song then Ten Sing give a performance, Vuvuzela and his crew entertain the crowd and then it’s time for  the ‘Shosholoza’ song by the South Africans. Then it’s all over after community members are given some Tshirts as a token for answering questions on climate change .The crowd is totally fired as we get back on our trucks to head off.

The communities here are well informed on climate change issues and easily answer questions put to them. Here they talk of long periods of drought, unpredictable rainfall coupled by severe flooding and a multiplicity of other issues that have left them in a web of an almost intractable poverty. What stands out are the efforts communities have put in to address climate change-use of energy saving jikos, planting tress, growing drought resistant varieties etc- it only means our leaders have to do more to match up these efforts.- Tilindichi Kulupililo!

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Day 7-13th Nov-Lilongwe Concert

We head for a drive around Lilongwe early morning, informing everyone that we are headed to Civo Stadium for a climate justice concert in the afternoon. At the various stops many enthusiastic Malawians sign onto our petition and share their experiences on how climate change has affected them. Most talk of intense drought in recent years, of massive crop failures which has wreaked havoc on their communities since it has affected their livelihood and left them really vulnerable. The concert is awesome and the huge stadium has a huge crowd of people who have turned up. The energy Minister is here as well, to support this campaign and encourage youth who have been involved in this to keep on with the good work and energy. Dan Lu the Malawian star does not disappoint, as other perfomers, the Botswana team is charming as usual.Juliani keeps to his element and Simki gets the crowd fired as well. It’s a good day, we have many petitions collected from all over not to mention the ones the Malawi team presents to the campaign.Zikomo

Day 8-14th Nov-Lilongwe-Chipata

Its early morning when we head off to Chipata, it’s a short drive to the Zambia border and an even shorter one to the Campsite in Chipata. It is after crossing the border that we meet with one of the warmest welcoming ceremonies of all…’s unbelievable, a band, traditional dancers and youth from Zambia are here to welcome us. We stop to enjoy the march and dance to the tune of the music as we collect signatures from the now growing crowd of onlookers. It’s a special feeling I get here, it’s happening and we are all so happy. In the afternoon we head on to the Church service and Mini-concert at the Reformed Church of Zambia. The Minister for Eastern Province is there as the chief guest as well as Several religious leaders and youth who have organized this. I am moved to see all these people gathered here in this church, its agreat moment for all of us on the campaign having worked and planned this for many months.

Day 9-15th Nov-Chipata-Lusaka-

From Chipata we head off to Lusaka with various stops along the way where we are met by enthusiastic youth and community members some of whom have been involved in the ‘We Have Faith’ Campaign in one way or another.

It’s a long drive and we are quite exhausted by the time we get to the campsite at Lusaka

Day 10-16th Nov-Lusaka Concert

Lusaka, here we are…’s a break from for us most of the morning, then we head to the Barclays Sports Club where the concert is being held, its rained but contrary to our fears that the rain would deter people from coming is actually unfounded as there are so many people at the concert. Its the biggest mobilization of this campaign so fahe place is filled to capacity and is overflowing with masses of humanity. Its almost unconceivable to think of all the numbers of people here. The concert is aired live on TV2 which further adds to our excitement. The concert goes well as the 11 artists from Zambia perfom together with our very own Botswana team, Ten Sing, Simki, and the evergreen Juliani. After the concert we are treated to dinner at the residence of the local NCA representative.

Day 11-17th Nov-LivingStone—Concert & Vic Falls

Livingstone is quite great for all of us, we are received by a band complete with a police outrider into town. The band leads us in a Scottish dance along the streets of Livingstone. It is quite a spectacle and we are all really excited. Later we head out to the church service. Some head on for a visit to the Victoria Falls. The church service is great as the speaker highlights why we must take charge of protecting our habitat as people of faith.

Day 12-18th Nov-Botswana–Elephant sands

Dumela Botswana! We get to the Zambia-Botswana border early morning and have to use a ferry to cross over into Botswana where we are warmly received by representatives from the Botswana Council of Churches, NCA, Youth and other partners in this campaign.

It takes a while to get the trucks to the other side but we are all in high spirits. We can see the Kalahari desert now and use the waiting time to collect signatures for our campaign as well as talk to people about climate change and what there take is in terms of how they think the problem should be addressed. Many of them are emphatic that it is communities which have to take action-Act Now!

We head out to camp at elephant sands and true to the name there are herds of elephants grazing in the vicinity, they indeed rule this sands of the Kalahari!

Day 13-19th Nov-Gaberone

We leave the elephant sands camping site for Gaborone at 3.30am, its the earliest we’ve ever left in the entire caravan. Gaborone is one in a kind, and we are truly in for a surprise, 40 kms before we get to Gaborone there is a team waiting for us complete with a police vehicle to escort us into town. It’s a VIP reception here as all traffic rules are legally broken to let us through, we smile and wave to curious onlookers who have lined the streets as we get into town. Then we head for a brief ceremony at the city monument built for the three founding chiefs of Botswana.

At night we have a concert in town then retire to bed to prepare for another day.

Day 14-20th Nov-Gaborone

It’s a full day in Gaborone today and we have so many activities lined up for the day. We head to church at the Dutch Reformed Church and have a great service. The speaker emphasizes on living in harmony with nature and how important it is for everyone to play a role in all this.

After church we head out for a petition drive at one of the shopping malls then back to camp where caravaners are met with a huge storm complete with thunder and lightning bringing to the fore the fact that such extreme events are already here with us.

During a brief conversation with a Gaborone resident he intimates that indeed climate change is here with us evidenced by recent heatwaves in town in two weeks ago. The temperatures hit a record alarming high of 420C.Most residents remail perplexed by this turn of events and look forward to better days ahead, if only we can carry their messages to world leaders in Durban.


Day 15-21st Nov -Gaborone-Pretoria

We leave Gaborone for the border early morning and are faced with a possibility that some of us won’t be let through but we all get to go across the border. I guess this Campaign has seen many miracles in its time than could have been thought of at the beginning. It’s late evening when we get to Pretoria. It’s a bit chilly but we are really excited to be here and looking forward to what is in store for us.