Saturday, December 3, 2011
Long walk to climate justice
"At last, something real," I heard one activist say. 'Something real' was the Global Day of Action, which drew, what, 8,000 protestors? (The police told me 5,000, an activist leader said 8,000 - you pays yer money and you takes yer choice.)
It took more than two and half hours to march from an area known as the Warwick Triangle to the International Convention Centre - with a pause en route outside the USA Consulate. At the ICC, the crowd met Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, and the COP17 president, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (who graciously acknowledged that civil society was an 'important component' of the COP - and advised the activists to support the local economy by visiting the beachfront and the shopping malls). Veteran activist Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network) joined African leaders like trade unionist Zwelinzima Vavi in making speeches.
Some colourful characters had flown in long-haul, including a trio of women whom I'm sure every camera snapped - they marched bare-breasted (but painted) against nuclear power. Every kind of local activist was present, from the subsistence fisherfolk of Durban to rural women to an LBGT contingent and many unionists.
I found the two key songs of the march rather amusing in counterpoint: a favourite of march leader Virginia Magwaza-Setshediwas a song which runs: "My mother was a kitchen girl/my father was a garden boy/That's why I'm a socialist, I'm a socialist, I'm a socialist..." A male march leader whom I never managed to identify, on the other hand, opted for Umshini wami (Bring me my machine gun), SA President Jacob Zuma's theme song.
I'm going to post three times today, to get enough pics in!