I am a South African citizen – a very proud South African citizen. My existence through my childhood, teenage and adult years shaped the kind of person I am today. I may not be physically the strongest but I think my ideals and values are pretty razor-sharp.

A few years ago back in Durban, my first interaction in developing my core set of values was through the injustices I witnessed while working for a regional community based organisation. Residents living on the fence-line of climate polluting industries brought my attention to the atrocities we as a society have to deal and live with.

But, should we simply accept our fate being dished out to us or can we as people stand up and change our destiny?

This question really made me grapple with my values, beliefs and myself. I quickly found solace in working with people — people on the ground who are passionate, brave, humble and  hungry enough to make change happen. By constantly challenging the laws on poor air quality, we ensured our voices were heard loud and clear and that citizens’ concerns were taken into consideration.

After this local experience, I felt the need to continue with what I was most passionate about – the need to advocate for people’s lives. Climate change knows no boundaries. It does not take into consideration your wealth, status, education or economic standing. When it strikes, the strike is sudden and deadly like that of a black mamba. And as citizens of Africa, across all borders we will be impacted the most because of statuses like ‘developing countries.’  

Burning fossil fuels like coal is pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at an alarming rate. In South Africa, our primary energy comes from burning coal. Some might even call South Africa a coal addict. And this addiction is definitely a hard one to beat.

The production of electricity from coal requires an abundance of water and with South Africa already being a water-scarce country, the growing coal addiction could have devastating impacts in the near future.

As I go about my daily chores and the routine of life, it’s sometimes easy to forget the fate that we are sealing in for the future generations of our people. I keep thinking about my family and wondering about the kind and quality of life they will experience if we don’t stand up and fight the fiery dragon called climate change.

Climate change and its effects are not the only concern. The mines where most of our coal resources are found are a problem in itself. Acid mine drainage causes destruction and pollution of water resources affecting not only families whose livelihoods are based on fishing and farming practices, but water being as a primary source of life.

This is who I am and this is why I am standing up to make a difference.

If you would like to do the same and be a part of the movement, then get involved with 350Africa.org today!