‘What does climate justice mean to you?‘
This was the question posed to students and staff in Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya, for a creative arts competition.
The competition was run by Strathmore University in collaboration with our Centre, in association with our joint workshop ‘Decolonising Climate Research – an Art-Science Workshop‘ which was held on 16th May 2023, in London and Nairobi.
Entrants were asked to send in their creative responses to the question either in the form of short blog post, or visual art (photograph, sketch or painting). The entries were powerful.
In total, 26 submissions were received, from 21 students and 5 staff. The majority were short written texts, but five entries were also made in the visual art category. The winner of each category received 30,000ksh (approx. £165) with a runners-up prize of 20,000ksh, sponsored by Leverhulme Wildfires.
The competition and workshop brought together bright young minds to discuss and be inspired about climate justice, and what we need for a better world.
View the winning and runners-up entries below.
Category A: Short Blog
- Winner: Rajan Okita
- Runner Up: Peter Njora
- Honorary Mentions: Michael Babu & Festus Mburu
Rajan Okita: A Whisper in the Wind: My Journey Toward Climate Justice
Winner, Short Blog
Once, as a child, I stood in my grandparents’ shamba, the sun casting a warm, golden embrace upon my face. The wind whispered secrets through the swaying maize, tales of abundance and harmony between the earth and her children. Today, that whisper has turned into a desperate cry, echoing the pain of a wounded world struggling to heal.
The sun’s embrace has grown harsher, her rays scorching the earth with unrelenting fury. The maize withers, leaving behind parched land and hungry souls. It was in the midst of this desolation that I first grasped the meaning of climate justice, not from the pages of a book or the eloquence of an activist, but from the haunting eyes of my grandmother who is a farmer, her dreams crumbling like the dry soil beneath her calloused feet.
Climate justice, I realized, is a story of loss, a tale of forgotten promises, and a quest for redemption. It is a narrative woven by the hands of those who have nurtured this world, only to watch it crumble before their eyes. It is the symphony of voices that sing in harmony, pleading for a new dawn where humanity embraces the earth as its equal, not its conqueror.
In the shadows of a crumbling world, I found my voice. With every word, every stroke of the pen, I began to weave my own story within the tapestry of climate justice. I sought to capture the anguish of a mother watching her child wither like the crops, the frustration of a fisherman as he casts his net into a dying sea, and the quiet resolve of a community standing tall amidst the storm.
My journey toward climate justice led me to the halls of academia, scouting, and activism, where I delved into the intricacies of climate change, seeking to wield it as a shield for the vulnerable. I realized that beyond the eloquent words and jargon, the heart of justice lies in the faces of those who have suffered, the hands that have toiled, and the dreams that have been lost.
Together, we must rewrite the narrative, transforming the desperate cry of the earth into a song of hope. We must stand united in our quest for climate justice, forging a world where the earth’s embrace is once again a gentle caress, and the wind whispers stories of renewal and rebirth.
In this dance of words and dreams, I have found my purpose. The pen is my sword, my voice my shield, and the pursuit of climate justice, my battle cry. And as the world turns its ear to the whisper in the wind, I know we will rise, together, in the name of justice, fairness, and love for the earth that has cradled us in her arms.
Rajan is an ambitious student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Informatics and Computer Science. “I am currently in third year with a keen interest in the dynamic world of technology. I have excellent problem-solving abilities and demonstrate strong aptitude for analytical thinking. Alongside my academic pursuit, I actively participate in extracurricular activities i.e scouting, soccer, demonstrating leadership and teamwork skills. I believe my enthusiasm and determination makes me a promising student ready to make significant changes to the field of informatics and computer science”.
Peter Njora Muthoni: When the present and future of the majority died for the greed of the minority
Runner-up, Short Blog
Yet another injustice under the sun. A grade 4 pupil barefooted walks to school, in pursuit of a greater future for himself and maybe for his past and future generation. Assurance of his future and existence of a generation to assist are both possibilities not certainties. For the cause of death in the slum is obvious, only the timing is debatable, but soon it will be dawning. Marabou stalks flap their wings as they see him off to school, as they occupy themselves in their daily chore of competing with the locals to scavenge the dump. The little boy hopes that at least his mother wins the competition for the day, and get to trade a kilo of recyclable plastic for Kshs.17 to get them something to eat. In class the smell of decayed material and burning rubbish fights for his attention, coughing and breathing difficulties shouting louder than his teacher. At times he has to miss school for asthmatic symptoms and smoke allergies, placing his future under siege. Throughout the day the mother toils in the dumpsite, hoping to sustain the son in school, unknown to her that she’s earning him a sustainable death, while she too earns her share of illnesses, from asthma to cancer and other respiratory diseases. The boy might end up not seeing any siblings, as lead and mercury inhaled by the mother affected her reproductive health. As he grows he will read somewhere in the journals: that the bottom 50% of the global population contributed 12% of the global emissions, while the top 10% contributed 48%. Then on his mother’s grave he will bow and wail, for the present and the future of the majority died for the greed of the minority. Shall a day come when all inhabitants bear a fair and just share of climate change and mitigation? That shall be the dawn of climate justice.
“I am a strategic management student as the Strathmore University Business School with a strong passion for creative writing. I am a strong believer that in our speeches we communicate emotions but writing allows us to communicate our heart, mind and soul. The tears of the pen are capable of solving a wide range of social, economic and cultural issues facing the society. For the benefit of the society therefore, let the pen cry!”
Category B: Sketch, Painting or Photograph
- Winner: Nikita Abuya Okita – Digital Art Submission
- Runner Up: Yashvi Bhadania – Photo Collage
- Honorary Mention: Victorien Kamole
Nikita Abuya Okita
Winner, Visual Art
Photo: Nikita Abuya Okita
Runner-up, Visual Art
“Hello! I’m a driven and forward-thinking student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Information Technology at Strathmore University’s School of Computing and Engineering Sciences. Passionate about leveraging technology for positive change and sustainability, I am particularly interested in the intersection of business, technology, and environment. With a firm commitment to addressing environmental challenges, I aspire to become a visionary leader who integrates sustainable and ethical practices and digital solutions to drive a more equitable and environmentally conscious future. Excited to explore the limitless possibilities in this dynamic field, I aim to make a meaningful impact through innovative approaches to business and technology.”
Thank you to Strathmore University for running the competition, with special thanks to Veronica Muniu for the organisation and delivery, and David Chiawo for his support, and all entrants to the competition. The competition was in collaboration with the Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society, delivered by our EDI Working Group.