BUNDjugend Berlin meets Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria

1 May 2012

Written by Max Ramezani, BUNDjugend/YFoE Germany

In the end of April Young Friends of the Earth Berlin had the great chance to meet Wale Obayanju from Friends of the Earth Nigeria.

Berlin. When we within our Berlin group consider actions to raise awareness on global environmental issues here in town we are usually confronted with a twofold problem:

It is hard to address issues that people don't see in their everyday life and which are not brought to them by mass media. Secondly, we try to learn about ecological and social injustices on an informational/rational level - often ignoring the emotional component. That's why it was so enriching to have Wale Obayanju from Friends of the Earth Nigeria in our monthly erneuerBAR* (an evening in a bar where everybody is invited to come and to join discussions on a vast variety of social and environmental topics) and at our coordination meeting. We discussed the oil catastrophies in Nigeria and he had very impressive photos and first hand stories to share with us. I have never experienced such a lively discussion after a presentation in erneuerBAR*.

Above I said that we're too focused on the info level. This dosen't mean meeting Wale wasn't informative. But I think in order to really raise the (Berlin group's) commitment to engage for the environment and a just world it is crucial to get to know people who are experiencing the damages or to visit the sites of adverse actions – as we are planning to do for example this summer at the climate camp near to the coal-mining site in Jänschwalde. To conclude I think that building up relationships between different places of the earth at a grass roots level makes one feel more attached to what happens and it makes one more aware of all the consequences and interdependencies. For example, I was personally really surprised when Wale showed us photos of a leaking oil pipeline, where you could read the word "Borsig" casted into the steal. The pipe was made by Borsig! That's a company seated in Berlin, in my neighbourhood!

What happened next: The Saturday after Wale's visit we joined the world wide action day against tar sands and painted in front of the Canadian embassy patches to leave the oil in the soil (...). Like I have indicated we'll join the climate camp (11.-19. August in Jänschwalde near Cottbus) to complete our banners with ... and the coal in the hole. So see you there!