On the march

November 12th, 2006

Angelique addresses the rally Maasai farmers singing

There are some days in my job where I have to pinch myself and take a deep breath, because I feel so privileged and lucky. Yesterday was definitely one of them. I joined around 2,500 people marching through the streets of Nairobi, to call for urgent action on climate change. There were children, supporters from environmental groups, two bands – and over 70 Maasai pastoralists that work with Practical Action, who had travelled to Nairobi from their farmland to take part.

It was amazing to see the very people who are being so badly affected by climate change there in Kenya’s capital city to make their voices heard, just a couple of miles down the road from where leaders and politicians are gathered at the UN conference. The farmers sang beautifully as they marched; when I asked one of the ladies what the words in Maasai meant, she told me they were singing “Our weather is changing; all we can do now is hope God helps us”.

When we arrived at Uhuru Park, our final destination, there were a whole batch of speeches and performances, including songs and poems by children, drama and traditional dancing. I had the honour of making a short address to the rally. It was great to have the opportunity to explain that a week ago in London 25,000 people gathered to call for action on climate change; that we are there in solidarity with people in Kenya and that we will continue to build the global campaign.

When I got back to my hotel at the end of the afternoon I was pretty exhausted and over a cold beer I thought about the song the ladies were singing. I understand why they chose the words they did given their strong faith, – but I honestly believe that the politicians gathered here in Nairobi really do have the power and opportunity to make a difference to those farmers’ lives this week – if they make the right choices on climate change.

Maasai farmers on the march - click for larger version Maasai farmers on the march - click for larger version

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