The current global pandemic is a clear depiction of our broken relationship with nature. Disparities that for so long were hidden under the hustle and bustle of our daily lives are right in the open for us to see.
For the longest time, the conservation story has been told through an external perspective. But even then, mostly through the lens of science and animals. With less of the African people, cultures, heritage, use, knowledge, aspirations — all as part of conservation. And this is a role we need to reclaim.
But there is still room to change the narrative in African households.
It is no secret that the content we consume on our TV, print and digital forms the conversation in our local eateries, workplaces and public transport. We are, what we watch and read.
It is high time the fourth estate steps up to its role of setting the agenda because you wield the power to shift this narrative of ensuring wildlife thrives in a modern Africa.
When Africans begin to see more content on nature and wildlife, the conversation will definitely begin to change immensely.
Especially if they see Africans telling Africans why conservation is important.
It is time that we realise that being African is not a monopoly of human species. It is arrogant if humans think we are the only Africans or somehow, wildlife should pay the price for our development. Giraffes, the tallest mammal in the world, is only found in Africa, it is African as much as we are…with all the rights to exist… not for future generation to also see it… but primarily for the future generation to experience their ecological services for their survival. This realisation can mainly be met if we are exposed to this content more frequently.
We are a continent that can still hold on to our vast natural resources while ensuring that our people are fed, industries are running, and the young people are gainfully contributing to sustainable economies.
I would like to urge the African youth who dominate the media sector that they are the best chance Africa has. I say this often, and I must reiterate it here, this young African generation is the most educated that Africa has ever had. Travelled more widely than your parents ever did, and the internet has opened the world to you in ways that previous generations could not dream of.
You are innovative, technologically gifted and fearless more than the generations that liberated us from colonialism. Can you imagine, the level of impact Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkuruma, John Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba and other renowned young Pan African leaders would have generated, if they had WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?
This generation were your age when they started their struggle for independence.
Kaddu Sebunya is the African Wildlife Foundation chief executive officer