Sizeka Nkwitshi is in Grade 9 at the Hunt Road Secondary School in Durban. He's a small boy, shy with a quiet voice but when he took the microphone to read a poem, he was confident and his voice filled the exhibition room.
"Mother Nature Denatured" was written by the school's Climate Justice Committee, a group of students who, along with their teacher, Desmond, are working hard to spread the world on climate change and what it means to South Africa. The students were attending the opening of the Many Strong Voices Portraits of Resilience photo exhibition at the Durban Natural Science Research Centre.
Part of the students' poem reads:
...Man is now realizing what he had done
Because the Earth is receiving tremendous heat from the sun
This is a signal from Mother Nature
Warning us about our future
If we don't take a stand
I assure you we would lose this land...
Sizeka's school was joined by students from J.E. Ndlovu High School and Esizibeni Primary School. The primary school students performed two vigorous Zulu dances and showed an incredible level of gymnastic ability.
Allison Ruiters, the museum director, said she first heard about Portraits of Resilience over a weak phone line from Fiji. It as project director Christine Germano, the Canadian photographer who has been working in the communities and schools to build this project. Christine asked if the museum would like to host the exhibition during the climate change conference.
"I said yes before I even knew what it was about," Allison said. Then she asked to see some examples. Those pictures and stories are now displayed in the exhibition hall at the research centre. The show runs until April 2012.
Photo by Andrew Carter