Fridays for future activists from Tanzania, Uganda, and more, were invited to the launch of the year Grenoble European Capital 2022 and inauguration ceremony of the mayor of Grenoble. We were able to have three Ugandans and two Tanzanians representing Fridays for Future Most Affected People and Areas and European activists from Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Polland, and Fridays for Future Grenoble. We thought this was an opportunity to amplify the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) which is being funded by Total, a French Company.
This will be the longest pipeline in the world and will run from Uganda to Tanzania. The construction of this pipeline is anticipated to exacerbate the already existing climate crisis in Africa and in the world. This was an opportunity to spread the message to the French people to understand the deadly project that President Macron is pushing for in Africa although claiming to be on the side of the climate and the people. Being voted as the European Green Capital the people of Grenoble city need to understand the responsibility that they play to amplify this message.
Before the day of the inauguration, we carried out an action against total in front of Total petrol stations in Grenoble with about 20 activists where we held signs with messages against fossil fuel companies telling them to “put communities before pipeline”, “people before profits” and the message on the big banner which read “We cannot drink oil”. These messages were aimed at expressing our grievances on the investments that are funding our destruction with incidences like the oil spills that end up contaminating water sources that people depend on for water.
During the action, we also had keynote speeches from Evelyn Acham from Uganda who talked about the current situation in Uganda, the prolonged droughts and the catastrophic weather events which are already happening in Uganda, and how the EACOP will only worsen the present and the future will be destroyed. Baraka Lenga from Tanzania talked about how the project is already exacerbating poverty in his country, it is already leaving people poor and it will only get worse. We had other speeches from Luisa Neubauer from Germany who called out President Macron to stop the EACOP project.
On the day of the inauguration, we had a climate march where activists like Edina Godfrey from Tanzania and Faith Kwagala from Uganda shared their stories about the dangers of fossil fuels in their communities.
Later at the inauguration ceremony where Fridays for Future activists (Luisa Neubauer from Germany, Camille Etienne from France, Isaac Ssentumbwe, and Evelyn Acham from Uganda) were the first to be invited to speak in the presence of leaders like the ecological Minister Barbara Pompili, Eric Piolle (Mayor of Grenoble). The activists’ speeches left the audience in shock because again it was a ceremony to celebrate a sustainable city, a green city but instead activists like Isaac mentioned that, “we cannot celebrate when people are dying, homes and farms are being destroyed”. The activists urged Grenoble people and the French people to stand with them and the campaign against Total to stop funding the EACOP.
Fighting for this is difficult, but it will be rewarding if we keep our voices raised in the face of future problems such as biodiversity loss and climate change. In order to protect the rights of indigenous and traditional communities, we are joining this effort to mobilize civil society organizations, NGOs, and journalists with the goal of increasing society’s awareness of EACOP’s impact and preventing banks and financial institutions from sponsoring EACOP.
In conclusion, MAPA activists appreciated seeing that activists from the global north joined us in fighting against EACOP and that the movement is going to be big and strong during our upcoming Global Climate Strike in 2022, March 25. There is hope that we are going to win this race.
By Baraka Lenga ,Evelyn Acham and Edna Godfrey