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The webinar titled the Same Storm Different Boats: Telling the African Climate Crisis Story was held on the 8th of May 2021.

It was hosted by The Wangari Maathai Foundation and Wanjira Mathai was the moderator. The speakers in the panel were Greta Thurnberg a Climate and Environmental Activist from Sweden, Olumide Idowu an Environmentalist from Nigeria, Vanessa Nakate a Climate Activist from Uganda, Professor Youba Sokana a Climate Scientist and Elizabeth Wathuti an Environmentalist and Climate Activist from Kenya.

The much needed webinar and received a tonne of insights and inspiring messages from the speakers. We were impressed by Professor Youba’s 40-year experience in addressing climate issues. He mentioned how he was proud to see young people joining this cause and added the comical statement that now he can retire.

Greta came in after that and politely asked him not to retire because we still need him. She also highlighted the fact that Africa has contributed the least to the adverse effects of climate change but is the Continent that is the most affected by it.

Elizabeth talked of trees that were earmarked to be fell in the streets of Nairobi. She told us how she and her friends hang love hearts on those trees to pass a message that they are loved and they are needed for the quality of our air in the city. Unfortunately, 2 weeks later she received a message from one of her friends that the trees had been cut down. Even after that experience, she told us the audience not to be afraid to start something in our communities.

Olumide challenged the Government of Nigeria to be clear on what they were negotiating on behalf of the people. Nigeria’s oil spillage has adversely affected fishermen who cannot go to work anymore.

Vanessa hit the nail on the head when she said that it is not about the weather it is about the people. She talked of how women and children are usually the ones most affected when there are natural disasters. She highlighted the fact that the glaciers on Ruwenzori Mountain are melting, there were floods in Kenya and there was a cyclone in Mozambique.

Vanessa spoke of how she worked with other activists in installing solar panels and eco-friendly stoves in schools to prevent the felling of trees for firewood. She said she is optimistic,  that there is power in every person and that all of us can make a difference on our own but together we would be a force. Greta would also add that the people hold the power and we need to reclaim our power.

Vanessa stresses the need for education and awareness among young people in particular. We even decided to post a question in the chat from Marc Rigaudis Jiwe Studios, Nairobi “Do you think that we can awaken awareness in young people in particular about the environment and the future of their planet with video gaming?..."

When asked how the youth can get more informed on climate issues. Vanessa had the following to say. "Education should start in schools. It should not only be in the form of climate education but also in the form of making children understand the connection they have with nature. Let them understand that we cannot exist without nature and that they can do something about it." When reaching out to the community we should use language that communities can understand and the language of video games is the language that the whole world is using right now.

Image credit: Barbara Kelly

It was impressive to see what the panellists had done on their own and in groups in a bid to make a positive difference. We as Jiwe Studios are honoured to have received an invitation to attend the event. We now understand that we may be in the same storm but we are on different boats as highlighted by Greta because we Africans are being affected the most.

As Jiwe Studios, we have worked on USONI the Game which is based on a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by the abuse of nature and where Africa is the sole continent where the sun still shines.  The upcoming game Mishi and Michi is inspired by the late Prof. Wangari Maathai and is about one girl from Kenya and one boy from Japan getting together to save nature from complete destruction.  We hope that we will be part of the people effectively raising the awareness of the youth by telling the African climate crisis story and showing them how they can join forces to make a difference. On that note, let’s close with these wise words from Vanessa Nakate “There is power in every person and all of us can make a difference on our own, but together we would be a force.”

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