Column: Africa is a wise teacher

Council Report by Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison

Africa.

It was always a dream for us. In early February we felt so fortunate to be able to fulfill our dream.

I certainly don’t pretend to be any kind of an expert on this amazing continent; however, on returning from our visit of Kenya, Tanzania and Cape Town in South Africa, we reflected.

What did we learn?

Water is precious. Potable water is in short supply in parts of Africa. We are so fortunate to have Shuswap Lake. We must look after it.

No matter where you go, kids are kids. We saw many children. Lots of them were in school uniform. Some were Masai, shepherding goats, sheep or cows. We saw kids playing, with sticks and occasionally a soccer ball. They don’t have much. But they are joyful. They smile and laugh and joke.

One of our unique interactions with kids was at a road washout. Our jeep was forced to go off the road and onto private lands to get by. Three young boys had set up a toll, a makeshift, three-piece wooden archway. Richard our driver gave them 200 shillings to go through. We smiled, they laughed. “Jumbo,” they shrieked as we drove through.

Read more: Chase youth softball player to visit Africa and share love of sport

Read more: Welcome Shuswap: A neighbour from South Africa

Read more: Salmon Arm women’s experience teaching soccer in Kenya subject of documentary

In Africa, everyone is talking about climate change. Taxi-drivers, Masai herders, business people and guides. The conversation of, “Is climate change real,” is far in the past. The conversation is, “What can we do,” to slow and cope with climate change. Kenya and Tanzania have climate change plans and policies. Like us, they are working on a balance of economic and climate sustainability.

Plastic bags are banned in both Tanzania and Kenya. Tourists are not allowed to bring them into these countries. Everyone uses reusable bags.

It is important to plan ahead, to ensure we have enough energy for future needs. In Cape Town, there are rotating planned power cuts. For our first two nights at our accommodation there, the power was cut from 8 p.m. to midnight (the hotel provided a battery powered light).

Tanzania and South Africa have large dam projects under way. With much of their present power coming from coal burning, they recognize the need to move away from this source. The projects are designed to both provide power and supply water to their urban centers.

Protect our local, provincial and national parks. Tanzania has 28 per cent of their landmass protected as either conservation areas or national parks. They have learned from experience – their motto, “The Serengeti Lives Forever.”

Africa is a wise teacher.

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