Let us not forget that the victories that will define 2011 in the pages of history began in Africa. That story of 2011 should end here. 2011 took us from Tunisia to Durban, South Africa – where Mandela cast his first vote and Gandhi held his first public meeting. Draw a line on the map from Tunis to Durban and think of all the languages you have crossed, all the diversity, all the wisdom, all the gods. There is a continent bridging those two cities – dreaming.
We are all in that dream.
2011 started with the demand for freedom, and ends with the demand for justice.
As our planet rampantly burns its insides and warms, history will view these years as a window closing. We have a chance to escape the catastrophe we are creating for our children. But there is no freedom without justice, and no justice without rights.
For our rights thrive, we must be guardians of their principles. Freedom is bigger than us – it is the architecture our dreams inhabit. It does not belong to us anymore than a house built of stone belongs to its inhabitant. Rights belong to the generations that will come after us. Justice grows like a garden, we water it with our wills. As each day passes, a window is closing and with it the justice that we will pass on to the future inhabitants of this world. Justice loses its meaning if it is stolen from the future.
Here in Africa, the well of hope is drying. People are being forced away from the land of their ancestors and have been sent wandering with nothing, into a darkening world.
Our planet is changing, and with it the story of human rights. Here in Africa, the river beds are already drying and the seedlings that we watered for the future, are wilting. We do not rob water from the cups of others, we divert the streams. Climate change is the tyranny of the present over the rights of the future. In Africa, the future is already here.
Human rights are universal, they exist not only to everyone who is alive – but to everyone who will ever live. No one is free until everyone is free.