Thuli Makama, an environmental attorney from Swaziland, was awarded the Goldman Prize in 2010 after winning a landmark case to include environmental NGO representation in the Swaziland Environment Authority, reinforcing the right to public participation in environmental decision making.
For the past several months, Makama has been living in Oregon while completing a fellowship with Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), and she recently had the chance to stop by the Goldman Prize office during a trip to San Francisco.
Makama has been enjoying a break from her work in Swaziland, relishing the opportunity to network with fellow Goldman Prize recipients and ELAW fellows, building relationships, strategizing and reflecting on her work at home.
At ELAW’s annual conference in February 2013, Makama was able to connect other African lawyers. She hopes to strengthen Africa’s network of environmental attornies so they can support each other more effectively. “It is so helpful to be a part of a network,” Makama says.
Ideally, Makama would like to build connections among lawyers from Tanzania, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana- to share ideas, successes and failures from their respective regions in environmental and land management.
Makama also recently had the chance to connect with 1995 Goldman Prize recipient Ricardo Navarro. Makama commented on his dedication, saying, “If Ricardo won [the Goldman Prize] way back when and he’s still at it, I have no right to say I’m tired!”
Upon her return to Swaziland, Makama plans on putting her experiences and reflections to work to continue protecting vulnerable communities from private interests. “I’m going to throw in every ounce of energy I have and hope something will break,” Makama said.