You are being called. That anxiety in the back of your mind, that feeling in your very bones is calling you. There is real urgency now as positive reinforcing climate feedback loops start to increase the speed of changes to the Earth system. The governments are doing nothing. Businesses are doing nothing. This isn’t a distant apocalypse. Scientists are telling us that we’re 18 months from a tipping point from which there will be no coming back. It’s not going to happen to somebody else. It’s going to happen to you. We must rebel.
In South Africa there is a long tradition of peaceful civil disobedience and Extinction Rebellion is such a movement. Rebellion for life seems an appropriate response to a system which is responsible for global ecocide. The South African chapter of Extinction Rebellion was started in October 2018 and begun with a strike outside parliament about the seismic testing on the West Coast.
Extinction Rebellion Mzansi aims at creating a movement reflective of South African people’s struggles and sensibilities. We cannot shy away from the truth of why we find ourselves in this terrible circumstance and the systematic scope of the problem. The minimum we aim for is the radical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with support for the most vulnerable in society, the majority on the planet and in South Africa. *
This aims to be a movement of movements with a mandate to activate, empower and create more leaders. Being in solidarity with other struggles helps to bring activists together as our struggles are all connected.
We found there are local groups who are already helping their communities and are active in environmental healing. Forming local XR groups with close circles of trust is important to sustain actions and build support. We align strongly with indigenous peoples of South Africa and respect the wisdom and understanding they hold about how our ecosystems work and how we can live in harmony with them. This deeper insight, through solidarity with struggles led to the formation of the fourth demand:
“Prioritize the MOST VULNERABLE, the Young, Sick, Disabled, Poor, Elderly and Marginalized, for years of injustice. Establish Reparations and Remediation LED by and for Indigenous People. Assured Sovereignty-Legal rights for ALL species, Ecosystems and the WHOLE BIOSPHERE. Repair the total effects of ongoing Ecocide to prevent our extinction, creating a just and livable planet.”
A decentralized, inclusive and participatory approach has enabled Extinction Rebellion to grow across the country. There are lots of useful materials provided for those with a urge to rebel to start getting their own groups to add to the collaborative impact in actions. Extinction Rebellion does not require anyone to sign up or get permission to act but uses instead guiding principles to achieve the demands. Taking part in the movement is a journey as the principles state we must move out of our comfort zones and openly challenging ourselves and the system we inhabit.
From October 7 a week of Global Rebellion will begin. In South Africa we will be actively encouraging people to start forming their own working groups, understanding the Extinction Rebellion principles and speak with family and friends about what is happening and how to rebel. There will be workshops and actions targeting polluters and decision makers in making life affirming choices.
The rebellion is for everybody, not just those willing to risk arrest. We need cooks, admin legends, action designers, sanitation pros, financial whizzes, social media gurus, prominent spokespeople, legal observers, builders and fixers, musicians, logistics experts, and loads more to help keep rebels safe, organized and fed on the street. South African society is very unequal economically so more affluent Mzansi rebels are encouraged to mitigate for power by sharing generously to enable those with less to also rebel meaningfully and spread awareness. We encourage sharing we acknowledge the needs of accommodation, transport and other costs as being barriers to rebellion for many.
We find ourselves here and now in this time and space and we must act. This is so much bigger than the individual and although individual actions are important we now need system change. We rebel for life against the forces of extinction and demand a government that puts people before profit. We want to be protected from exploitation and ecocide at the hands of multinational mineral resource extraction companies and power utilities instead of their interests being protected. We envision a future that values cooperation over competition and sharing over wealth accumulation and greed, a future fit for generations to come. The time has come to act, rebel for life.