By bike across Africa

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By bike across Africa

By Joe Ware

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© Christian Aid

Africa does not have much responsibility for causing climate change but it suffers from the effects. The UN climate talks are soon, so a group of Africans have decided to cycle 6,500 kilometres across Africa to make people think about what’s happening there and about the Paris talks.

They started in Mozambique and will cycle through 9 countries before they get to Nairobi, Kenya, on 15 November. The distance is the same as cycling from Sheffield to Manchester 100 times. 10 people are cycling the whole way. And many other people will join them in different places, eg. Victor Coutries , who is 74. He is from Soweto, South Africa, and he says cycling is like praying about the changing climate. He said: ‘When I was young, summer was summer; winter was winter. But now summer is like winter and winter is like summer. Now, when it rains, there are often many problems. When we cycle, people ask, “What is going on?” Then you can tell them about climate change. Cycling for me is like a prayer. I show I am committed by taking action.’

He hopes this will make other people want to cycle. ‘I cycle everywhere. I don’t like to use a car – I’m happier when I’m cycling. This is another important message – we must rely on ourselves, not use the car all the time.’

Already the group had an impact in the countries it has passed through. The president of Botswana, Tseletse Khama, even paid for a new bike for one of the group.

They hope their physical effort will also make people around the world sign their Act Now For Climate Justice petition: http://actclimate.org/ This will go to world leaders before the UN climate talks at the end of November.

Allen Namukamba, 35, is the lead cyclist in Zambia. His climate activism began when he stopped producing and selling charcoal – this fossil fuel makes a lot of pollution - and became an environmental campaigner.

‘Government officials came from the forestry department and made us think,’ he remembers. ‘So I stopped. Now I speak to my community about the dangers. We almost have no rain now and Lake Kariba is drying out. Many people are suffering and it is important to show people the connection between climate change and the economy, health and education. Everyone needs to care about the environment.’

The cyclists are also planting thousands of trees. In Botswana, Bishop Champion Malongwa (chair of the Botswana Council of Churches) planted one of the trees. ‘Our country has serious water [shortages] and many effects on the environment,’ the bishop said. ‘I am old, but I don’t want people to suffer now and in the future.’

The riders are now in Malawi. Their petition is actclimate.org.

Joe Ware is from Christian Aid. He is on twitter @wareisjoe

Read more about the Paris climate talks in November 2015 New Internationalist:

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NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/blog/2015/10/23/african-cyclists-climate-awareness/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).