The world often sees government's relationship with Greenpeace Africa as shaky, at best. When Greenpeace isn't chaining themselves to power-station equipment, or dumping coal at Eskom's Megawatt Park, they're being spied on, or being detained by police.
This dangerous dance they carry out in the public's eye is somewhat misleading though. If anything, Greenpeace and our government are on the same team – more or less.
You see, as an outsider, I had slightly romanticised ideas of what my first Greenpeace excursion would be like. I saw myself abseiling down a government building, brandishing a message of sensibility and defiance. I thought I was really going to stick it to the man, you know.
In reality – what I ended up doing was a lot less glamorous, though possibly just as important. We joined the NALA Street sweepers organisation on a community clean-up in Orange Farm. The Nala community has been promised much support in their efforts to improve their community, but to date, very few of these promises have yet to materialise... Enter Greenpeace.
Some hours later, after countless soiled nappies, chip packets and much other rubbish had been removed from this community's landscape, a new picture was starting to emerge in my mind.
I started to see environmental activism in an entirely new light.
We were not only improving the health and appearance of this community; we were empowering them to continue doing so, even we left. Workshops on recycling were being arranged before we had even served lunch. Clearly, education, skills-building and
empowerment are on high on list of things many of these communities need.
In a time when governments around the world are often failing their people – community-driven activism becomes essential.
At the end of the day, I don't care if its elected officials, or a group of selfless people in orange overalls making my country a better place – they will get my support, and deserve your support too.
You can get in touch with Greenpeace Africa and get involved here >> www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/Volunteer