Angelina Jolie Interviews Activist Vanessa Nakate About The Importance Of African Voices

Angelina is shining a light on African voices.

In a new article for Time Magazine, the actress and humanitarian interviews Ugandan climate activist and Rise Up Movement founder Vanessa Nakate.

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“The work you’re doing is really teaching all of us because, as you know more than anyone, the conversation about the climate crisis has been very limited to a few voices. How did you get involved?” Jolie asks the inspirational 23-year-old.

“Before my graduation, I started carrying out research to understand the challenges that people [in my community] were facing, and I was really surprised to find that climate change was actually the biggest threat facing humanity right now,” Nakate says. “I realized every part of my country, Uganda, is affected by the climate crisis: when you go to the north, the people are suffering with long dry spells; when you go to the eastern part of the country, they’re suffering with landslides and floods. I decided that I had to become a voice in the climate movement and try to get justice.”

Jolie also asks about the Black Lives Matter movement, and how issues of inequality are felt globally.

“This inequality, of course, starts from the kind of system that we are in. It is the system that needs to be completely shattered. Because if we continue in this kind of system, we are continuously going to see inequalities, and we are going to see the most affected people continuously being traumatized, continuously being destroyed and being left with nothing,” Nakate says.

“In regards to Black Lives Matter, when I found out about that, it was very, very heartbreaking and very disturbing to think that there are actually people out there who are suffering terrible, terrible actions of racism,” she continues. “It is something that I experienced to some extent, but it wasn’t as deep as what is happening in the States. I remember in January I happened to be cropped out of a photo with other climate activists, and to me that was a form of racism, and it felt like I had been robbed of my space. And I wasn’t the first. This is continuously going to happen unless you put an end to a system that promotes white saviourism.”

Nakate adds, “If we don’t address the issue of racial justice, we won’t be able to get climate justice. So every climate activist should be advocating for racial justice because if your climate justice does not involve the most affected communities, then it is not justice at all.”

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Jolie also asks Nakate about how we can educate people more about Africa.

“I think what people really need to first understand is that Africa is not just a country. It’s actually a continent with 54 countries,” she explains. “I remember the history that we learnt about [in school], and it talked so much of slavery and all that. I think that that is a narrative that needs to change. We don’t need to learn about all that cruelty that our people went through, because to me it completely lowers your value as a person.”

She goes on, “I think African children or any other children should be told about the power that lies within Africa. The African continent is not just about the history of slavery. It’s about the young people who grew up and became doctors, who became professionals in their own careers.”

Nakate concludes with the power message, “The other thing they need to know: that when an African voice speaks, then it’s really an important matter, because for a very long time, we have [had so] few voices coming out of the African continent that are amplified. But [so many others] never get a chance for their stories to be heard. I personally believe that every person who demands justice or advocates for change in their community, they have a story to tell. And I believe that their story has a solution to give. People need to understand that the African people have solutions that will change the world.”

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