Nelson Mandela inspired countless individuals to get involved in social activism, including several Goldman Prize winners.
South Africa’s progressive constitution, implemented in 1996 during Mandela’s term as president, is unique in that is guarantees citizens the right to a clean and healthy environment. This constitutional guarantee was a lynchpin for the successful campaigns of 2012 and 1998 Goldman Prize winners Jonathan Deal and Bobby Peek.
Deal won the Prize in 2012 for leading a campaign against fracking in South Africa to protect the Karoo, a semi-desert region treasured for its agriculture, beauty and wildlife.
Peek was awarded the Prize in 1998 for his work with local community groups to ameliorate the severe pollution problems in South Africa’s south Durban region where industry and residences are side by side.
Peek now works as director of Groundwork, a social justice organization and Friends of the Earth affiliate. Below are excerpts from a statement released by Groundwork and Peek in response to Mandela’s passing:
The environmental justice movement, and indeed my own environmental justice activism is grounded by the experience of working with Madiba [Mandela] to ensure that South Africans achieve the promise of a life that was enshrined by our Constitution, a life where people live in relations of solidarity and equity with each other and in non-degrading and positive relationships with their environments.
[Nelson Mandela] recognised that all of us are critical in a struggle for a new South Africa. It was not only those that wielded corporate power in South Africa that were important. All South Africans were equal for Madiba. All were powerful. All were weak. All were human.
May we never have to compromise our fight for a true and just world, for that is the compromise that Madiba would not want us to make. He would want us to continue to speak truth to power, as he always did. And may we honour his memory by holding his values and passion for justice.
Rest in peace Tata Madiba …
Photo Credit: Matthew Willman