Message From Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, And The Mudslide In Sierra Leone


Once upon a time, on June 14th, a son was born to an American real estate developer and philanthropist and his immigrant wife. That boy grew up into a fine young man that went on to have several families of his own; even following in his father’s footsteps and marrying an immigrant. In addition, he became a multi-billionaire, famous for his stints on television shows and his hair, which many claimed was no more than a toupee. As he aged, the man groomed his children and propelled them into the world of business; turning them into the successes he himself is. He went on to add to his long list of legacies by first shocking the world after he ‘took a political party hostage,’ clinched the nomination for President and then won the election (though some question the same). Yes. Donald John Trump.

So what about President Trump? He is known for denying the existence of climate change and earlier this year went on to inform those that do believe in climate change, that in the spirit of putting America first, he was withdrawing the country from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. His arguments were that the measures taken under the Agreement and the various Conventions aimed at dealing with the menace did not work and only burdened his country with shouldering costs that it should not. Why America would be burdened with ‘taking care of everyone else’ made no sense whatsoever to him and so he was making an executive decision.

Climate change, however, is not about a post in the papers or the internet that leads with ‘Scientists have discovered…..’ It is about simple observation. In Kenya for example, things moved like clockwork. January was a dry month, as was part of February, long rains began in March to May, in June, the cold started setting in, then came the biting cold of July and August, short rains from September to December and the cycle began again. Not anymore. Now, we have extremes, as the weather is unpredictable and we have become a ‘go with the flow’ kind of people.

It is almost a month since the devastating mudslide that hit Sierra Leone; that poor (both literally and figuratively) country has had to deal with the worst of ordeals in quick succession. First was the civil war that lasted more than a decade and saw the recruitment of many children as soldiers, claimed lives, exposed women to rape and left Sierra Leoneans with physical, emotional and psychological scars. Then came the deadly Ebola virus and now, the mudslide in Freetown.

Being the unforgiving and brutal creation it is, nature has now hit Cuba, the Bahamas, Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia with what has been described as unprecedented floods. Many have been displaced from the places they called home, lives have been lost and as people first struggle to cope with the devastation that the hurricanes have left behind, dealing with the aftermath and piecing their lives back together is a hurdle that awaits them after the calm. For immigrants, this is an even tougher situation to deal with since many fear that by seeking help, they risk devastation. The above is why the so-called leader of the free world making a mockery of climate change is a problem and a very big one for that matter.

If this is not an enough wake-up call, I really do not know what is. This is a message from nature that our increasing generation of waste without the means to clear it up is a dangerous path to tread on. That hiding behind disbelief so as to justify going back to energy sources that do not augur well with the natural existence of things is looking in the mirror and denying the reflection. Nature is simply trying to tell us that we have gone too far and we need to pump the brakes and give a little love to what is natural around us. Our ideas of job creation cannot be the day in-day out manufacturing of things to use on day one and throw on day two into the sea – because out of sight, out of mind. The late Wangari Maathai was right when she said that mother nature can be very loving, but she can also be very unforgiving.

We need to do better and create a bearable world for everyone. The man-made aspects of life, such as taxes, broken ‘democratic’ systems, exclusive politics, race and negatives of gender are enough to grapple with. We could at least do that under a healthy tree, beside a river that is clean and without chemicals and alongside family and friends that breathe clean air. It is a start to healing a world scarred by wars and psychological mind games end at protecting interests and bottom lines. That is how we get everyone feeding themselves, avoid unwanted immigration and subsequently, ideological wars, which I do admit is very simplistic, but think about it.

To the people of Sierra Leone, Cuba, the Bahamas, Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, my heart goes out to you and I am sorry that all I can give are words. I, however, promise to do all I can and get the world to wake up.

Hawa Gaya

Lawyer, lover of the environment and a beliver in peaceful dispute settlement
Hawa Gaya