This year marks 20 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa, and that fills me with a deep sense of pride in this country and our people, especially as a Born-Free.

As activists, we understand very well that along with this freedom and democracy we have the important responsibility of maintaining the rights and privileges that we have fought for. At Greenpeace, we want to ensure that our right to a clean and healthy environment is not only acknowledged but also maintained and reinvigorated for future generations.

For this reason, the Greenpeace  Africa Johannesburg volunteers, along with the bright and determined members of the Johannesburg Junior Council, joined the Human Rights March held at Constitution Hill in Joburg on Saturday the 26th of April.

This date and this event held a very special significance not only because it celebrated 20 years of democracy, but also because it celebrated the 10th anniversary of Constitution Hill as a symbol of constitutionalism in South Africa. This was the spot where hundreds of people gathered, as individuals and as groups, to represent their rights, and we were there to march for the right to a clean and healthy environment.

The energy displayed by those participating on the day was inspiring; we sang the National Anthem, read the preamble of the constitution and watched the hoisting of the South African flag together before we set off on our five kilometre march. This act of patriotism gave us the energy and motivation needed for completing this march for mother earth.

We all actively helped to clean up the streets by collecting rubbish and waste along our way. This proactive motion created an ideal ripple effect which resulted in many others including children assisting in this spontaneous clean up. We also stopped to explain to many interested individuals what the importance of a clean and healthy environment entails and that it is a very essential part of what we all need to work for in the next twenty years of freedom and democracy to come.

 The right to a clean and healthy environment needs to be defended for the people, the planet and our future generations.

Ricardo Rodrigues is a Greenpeace Africa volunteer in Johannesburg.