From ISSUE 02
There is an ancient African word which is sometimes translated to mean: I am because we are. It is ubuntu. Interpretations of the concept of ubuntu are as diverse as the many nations of Southern Africa, but the most recent definition from the Africa Journal of Social Work (AJSW) states that ubuntu is the idea that “an authentic individual human being is part of a larger and more significant relational, communal, societal, environmental and spiritual world.”
The philosophy of Ubuntu reminds us that we are all connected. Humans survive on Earth because of the ecosystems that surround us in the air, water and land. Ubuntu also reminds us about the power of our actions and choices and the kind of impact it may have on others and the planet.
The oxygen that fills up our lungs originates from the trees fixed to the Earth and ocean plants. What happens to us in a world where trees no longer exist but have been replaced by buildings? What happens after the glowing corals are all bleached and dead due to climate change?
Over the years, industrialization and capitalization have made humans forget how connected we are to nature; too many of us have forgotten the concept of Ubuntu. We have grown with mindsets that do not prioritize the needs and preservation of the environment, or of each other. We have grown up with ideologies that undermine our oceans and world leaders negotiate for profit over the planet. It is time we make a u-turn and rethink our actions and our choices, starting from the moment we open our eyes each morning until we lay our heads down to sleep at night. It is time we demand restoration to protect our future.
Our planet is in crisis. In early July 2021, a video of the ocean surface on fire in the Gulf of Mexico went viral; an underwater pipeline was leaking gas that caught flame. Record heat waves in Canada that same summer killed hundreds of people and burnt tens of thousands of seashore animals across the Pacific Coast. Wildfires erupt at different corners of the world due to climate change every year. With each passing day, we are reminded about the need to leave fossil fuels in the ground and the need to finance renewable energy instead of drilling oil rigs. We are reminded about the need to protect nature, the fact that we all need to do something about it, no matter who or where we are. It is time we lived out the ethos of #GenerationRestoration to revive our dying planet.
The beautiful fact is that solutions to the climate crisis can be found in nature. WWF defines nature-based solutions as solutions for climate which “harness the power of nature to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also help us adapt to the impacts of climate change.” Ubuntu reminds us that we are nature too and also part of the solution. With our hands, we can plant seeds to help forests grow. We can protect the savannahs and the wetlands; we can restore keystone species to their native habitats and return biodiversity to the wild. We can switch to renewable energy sources like the sun and the wind.
In this issue of OH-Wake, my co-editors and I celebrate the Earth and land-based solutions to climate change. We hope our readers, Ocean Heroes and adult allies alike, will feel inspired and empowered to give their best for the protection of nature through creating and demanding change. Let us embrace the spirit of ubuntu together with the knowledge that solutions to the climate crisis exist right under our feet.