Community activists are getting trained to make videos to promote protection of the environment, writes Romeo Ndlovu
Billy Mnqondo from Fuleni, near Empangeni, along with activists from other parts of the country and Zimbabwe, have welcomed the opportunity to equip their communities with video making skills after attending a participatory video workshop held at the Wilderness Leadership School.
Community members in groups of four were given a week to learn video capturing, editing and sharing skills. The purpose of the workshop was to equip them to be able to document what they see as they experience effects of environmental degradation in their communities caused by mining.
Apart from acquiring these skills themselves, they have taken up the challenge of going back to share with their communities what they learnt during the five day workshop.
Fuleni group members, led by a vocal Billy, said that they are happy to go back to their communities with something that is going to benefit everyone. They were justifiably proud after the screening of their short film about the importance of trees and clean rivers that they had produced during the workshop.
“There are a lot of things happening in my community but when we talk about them people do not listen or believe us because they have not seen these things themselves. Videos will help us to gather visual evidence that we will be able to share with the world. This is very exciting and very powerful,” said Mnqondo. Mnqondo is excited about the skills he acquired at the workshop and committed to sharing them with his community. His objective is to teach Fuleni residents with smart phones to use them to capture videos, edit and share them online.
The participants at the workshop were selected by the Mupo Foundation, an organisation working with rural communities to promote ecological awareness and to oppose the negative impacts of mining. Mupo identified several communities that would benefit from being able to use videos to document environmental changes and challenges they are facing.
The group from Zimbabwe was invited because they are trying to restore indigenous seeds that have been negatively affected by mining, while groups from Mpumalanga province and Msinga also face mining issues.
Sheila Berry says she became involved in the workshop as a founding trustee of the Global Environmental Trust (GET) and as the person who launched the Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness campaign on 1 May 2014 to oppose the proposed Fuleni open cast coal mine on the boundary of the historic iMfolozi Wilderness area.
“When GET heard that the Fuleni mine would impact on thousands of rural people dependent on the environment for their well-being and survival, we immediately started working with the Fuleni communities to capacitate them to make informed decisions about their future situation.
Teaching representatives from these communities to make videos is another way of giving them skills to document what they see happening around them. Videos are a powerful form of communication and also an irrefutable record of events. It is easy to dismiss someone’s words but not that easy to dismiss visual evidence,” Berry said.