EYAKUZE: From the mouth of babes: How dare you?

Thursday October 3 2019

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes to the podium to address young activists and their supporters during the rally for action on climate change on September 27, 2019 in Montreal, Canada. PHOTO | MINAS PANAGIOTAKIS | AFP 

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The young Swedish girl Greta Thunberg, has been getting a lot of press lately, and with good reason. She literally sailed across the Atlantic on a zero-emissions boat—what even is that?—and marched into the United Nations and basically gave world leaders a dressing down on their failures on climate change prevention goals.

She is frightfully intelligent, as are so many people of her generation and I could barely believe how much she knew about the topic as I watched her being interviewed.

She is also differently-abled as someone living with Aspergers. As with all greats, she has turned a challenge into a triumph, somehow, exploiting what abilities she has to do something worthwhile. Only 16-years old, she has a refreshing directness and dusty dry sense of humour.

So imagine my delight and complete lack of surprise when President Donald Trump tweeted something vitriolic about her.

She’s everything that he doesn't understands and fears about the world: Intelligent, boss in a subject he knows nothing about, unafraid, she has merited her own accolades and she is contemptuous of him. All while being female, and a minor at that. Can you imagine his horror?

His response to her garnered him pushback. When he is mean to his fellow Americans—frankly Caucasian—it is one thing. But when he starts going after a member of any other group, uh oh.


My favourite is still Mexican ex-president Vincente Fox’s response to the US border wall and Trump’s insistence that Mexico pays for it. Fox broke protocol and told Trump to do something colourful but physically impossible. It is nice when politicians can have clear and concise opinions.

The cherry on the cake has been finding out that the US might begin impeachment proceedings against Trump. Nobody thinks this will succeed—the formal political institutions favour him right now—but it is the principle that counts.

To which the rest of the world, still reeling in shock at how everything has managed to go to south in only three years of Twitter barrages and unprecedented horrors on the world stage is asking: What took you so long?

And yet, somewhere in my shrivelling heart, a little beacon of light has been lit. It’s the children, you see. I am not at all prepared to believe that “change” can come without a significant conflict. We went wrong when we forgot that we belong to this planet and not vice-versa. Big Capital is not going to let that social “change” movement without a fight no matter how dewy-eyed and hopeful our mobilised youth are.

Which is why I like Greta. She flipped the script on the UN and lectured powerful adults about their failure and dared them to own it. She was not about to be grateful to be given this dubious called honour, so she punched convention right in the face...and it is kind of working. A few more gritty warriors like her in various sectors and maybe, maybe we can finally shame world leaders into something approximating reason.

Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report. E-mail: [email protected]