By Nosiphelo Nikani
Born and bred in an area called Luapula, a scorching region in Northern Zambia, Enock grew up thinking that climate change was a myth. He thought that the floods and droughts his community experienced were natural – or severe punishment from the creator. He would hear others in his community saying that climate change is a conspiracy theory, and without questioning it he developed the same belief as those around him. He did study Geography in Primary and Secondary School, but climate change was never mentioned in detail in the school’s curriculum.
Enock’s understanding of the climate crisis changed when he enrolled in an Environmental Health Technology course at Evelyn Hone College, located in Lusaka, Zambia. In one of the Environmental Management lectures, he was intrigued to learn that not only was climate change real and happening now, but that human activities – mostly the burning of fossil fuels – are the leading cause of the climate emergency the world is facing today. The realization kept him up at night, and Enock was eager to learn more, doing research and speaking to his classmates and peers. With new-found knowledge, Enock was inspired to take action.
Together with his peers, Enock started a small group of concerned activists called Environment Savers of Zambia.
They began local awareness campaigns, quiz competitions, tree planting activities, recycling education, and more – and when given assignments as part of his studies, Enock always chose climate change as his topic to tackle.
The Environment Savers of Zambia group received tremendous support from the college management for their climate action efforts and were provided with resources to continue the work they began in their community.
At first, Enock’s fellow students did not respond too positively to his actions – some of the activities seemed strange as Enock and the Environment Savers began cleaning up their college campus and collecting plastic litter and waste in an effort to live sustainably and create a healthy environment for all. However, with each small effort, the group raised awareness among the students and more of their peers joined in on the action. Soon the campus and community were buzzing with climate change conversations, and Enock found himself on a Whatsapp group where he first met African Climate Reality Project’s Southern Africa Regional Coordinator, Akufuna Muyunda.
Akufuna began to notice Enock’s activism in their community and encouraged him to register for the 2020 Climate Reality Leadership Corps Global Training – a changing point in Enock’s journey in taking the lead on climate.
While the training sparked Enock’s interest with the opportunity to learn from former US Vice President and Founder of The Climate Reality Project Al Gore, he soon learned that it was much more than that. Enock believes that by not taking climate action, we are compromising our future and the future of generations to come. Enock’s primary interest is taking action to combat plastic pollution, which he does by educating members of his community and those connected through his social media platforms about the importance of recycling, reusing, and moving away from plastic. He has worked with various organizations in his community, including the Young Volunteers for the Environment, who host events and webinars to educate and inspire Zambian youth to take action. Enock serves as the Network Lead Facilitator at the Youths4ClimateJustice Network, and together with his peers, he started the Climate Change Café – a platform for climate change conversations either via Zoom or in person. The Initiative is well supported by the ActionAid Zambia youth wing Global Platform. As of 2021, Enock has planted over forty trees in two local schools and organized watch parties for movies and documentaries about climate change to educate young people.”
Enock recently went back to his old college campus to do a cleanup campaign that students organized – showing that his advocacy has had a long-term impact on the fabric of the school students and community.
In just one year as an official Climate Reality Leader, Enock has logged over 50 Acts Of Leadership on Reality Hub. Enock struggles to choose his most memorable act of Leadership, comparing his feelings to a parent asked to identify their favorite child! This is because he fully immerses himself when doing any action to take the lead on climate, and all of them means a great deal to him as he knows he is making a difference for people and the planet through each and every one. After a long pause, he finally mentioned two notable Acts of Leadership. The first was the very first presentation that he did after the Global Training during 24 Hours of Reality: Countdown to the Future in 2020. He was joined by 20 participants from all over the African continent for his virtual presentation. The second one Enock noted was also a presentation he gave to his fellow students, which sparked great interest and curiosity from numerous people.
Enock believes to continue creating awareness about climate change and raise climate ambition at every level, the youth must be included.
He believes that youth participation is crucial because they make up a large majority of the population today, especially in the African context. With their motivation, knowledge, and drive, the youth can work together to achieve the change we want to see – a sustainable and equitable future for all.
Enock believes to continue creating awareness about climate change and raise climate ambition at every level, the youth must be included. He believes that youth participation is crucial because they make up a large majority of the population today, especially in the African context. With their motivation, knowledge, and drive, the youth can work together to achieve the change we want to see – a sustainable and equitable future for all.
When asked to give a word of advice to fellow Climate Reality Leaders walking on this journey with him, Enock says, “Stay consistent and never give up; the climate crisis cannot be solved in 24 hours”. The small actions we take and log on to Reality Hub lead to solving more significant problems, and we must just continue doing what we can. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many in their advocacy, including some of Enock’s plans. Still, he chooses to look at it from a positive angle and says that it has helped him tap into new avenues of engaging and creating awareness. For him, finding new approaches to fighting climate change has been an exciting part of the last year. Enock plans to continue his work, hoping that more people will continue to join him, and raise climate change awareness, one person, at a time.
African Voices For Africa’s Future