Last blog from Chitimba beach, then on the road again. We had a very long drive day, and arrived late in Lilongwe after a beautiful sunset, pitching the tents in the pitch black once more. Thankfully we had managed to recover our solar torches that we had left out in the sun at lunchtime to charge, only to have them carried off by local village children! My tent mate launched the rescue mission into the village and successfully retrieved all 5 stolen torches. The other excitement of the drive was a close call between our truck an another driving dangerously, which ended up with its wing mirror flying off and smashing through one of our truck’s windows, shattering it and leaving glass everywhere. We had passed a couple of accidents earlier in Tanzania, so were extremely thankful that it hadn’t been worse. We’re glad to have quite a cautious driver, although it has often meant longer days for Truck 5.
We had some good workshops on “Development is a Conversation?” and I’ve been preparing to talk a bit about alternative energy and technologies to the group on my bus. We’ve also been working on our petitioning strategy, as the campaign is growing and growing, and we are able to talk to more people and achieve a greater number of signatures and voices every day.
At Mabuya campsite in Lilongwe, the water shortage that we had seen manifested on the journey in the form of dry rivers, suddenly became a first-hand problem as people were trying to get clothes washed and take showers. The water was all gone within 45 minutes of our arrival, indicating that either we are wasteful and have no concept of water conservation, or that the campsite is really very low on their water supply at the moment. In the morning, a tanker came along with another 200Litres maybe, but even when this was divided into basins for us to use, it seemed that however careful we were, the demand was greater than the supply, leaving a few remaining smelly campers and bags of clothes.
Nevertheless, the sun was shining, and we had an exciting day ahead, driving through the town, stopping in busy districts for petitioning, passing the parliament building and finally arriving at the Civo Stadium, where we were greeted by the Malawi We Have Faith team, and began setting up for the afternoon’s concert programme. I helped to produce a second “…. Has Faith” handprint banner, an interactive activity for the school children there, in the midst of the speeches and formalities. We also blew up some balloons that I had brought from the UK and through them into the crowd before the ceremony began, which caused some excitement!
The local faith leaders and Minister for Energy & Environment for Malawi came to address us, which was very engaging and interesting. We also joined with many local bands and artists for the concert programme, leading to a very successful day. Thousands gathered towards the later afternoon, and petition-signing flourished. I got over 300 photo petitions, and Kristian, on Truck 5, achieved over 500 written petition cards! I think we must have surpassed 10,000 signatures again as a group, which was impressive, since we had less of a crowd than in Nairobi. It was a long day on our feet, but campaigning with background of good music and an enthusiastic crowd is always good fun!
Thankfully it was possible to borrow a local modem to upload the first batch of the photo petitions for today to http://www.flickr.com/photos/wehavefaithcaravan/sets/72157627966683387/ These can also be viewed in a slideshow on the HAVE FAITH:ACT NOW page on this website 🙂
The evening was full of good conversation, as the team was inspired and brought closer together by another successful concert day. We met as a group for some singing, and the amazing Namakhaya led us in some traditional South African songs with her beautiful and powerful gospel-like voice. All-in-all, I am going to bed very contented and empowered by the growing voice of Africa on Climate Justice. I don’t know whether we will reach our target of collecting one million voices, but we received 40,000 from the Malawi team today, which were presented to the caravan on the stage at the stadium. I think whatever the number of thousands of petitions is that we hand over in Durban, it will certainly be a strong message from communities in Africa to our world governments and UN policy-makers. I am looking forward to tomorrow, and the new opportunities and experiences that the day will bring!