Opinion: Our environment and the logic of the ghetto | eco@africa | DW | 18.07.2016
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Eco@Africa

Opinion: Our environment and the logic of the ghetto

At eco opinion, we invite environmental doers and thinkers to share their views on what needs to be done to preserve the natural wealth and beauty of the African continent. This week, we hear from Priscilla M Achakpa.

Our dear planet earth and our natural world are in tremendous danger and have been
turned into a place where the logic of the ghetto is at play. What constitutes that logic
You impoverish people, segregate them and prevent them from working as a team,
demoralize them to the point that they stop believing in themselves, and deprive them
of a livelihood so the only way out is to run away.

The logic of the ghetto is usually the result of a series of increasingly poor decisions
that turn small problems into progressively big ones - often to the point where they are
beyond anyone's control. Those living in the ghetto then blame society for whatever
problems they face and begin to oppress others in the same situation.

How, you might wonder, is the logic of the ghetto linked to planet earth and our
environment? As living beings, "we" are deeply connected with the natural world in
our daily lives, but our destructive human activities are terrorizing it and subsequently
ghettoizing our society.

Our Nigerian environment is faced with a barrage of problems, ranging from drought,
desertification, deforestation, illegal logging, bush burning, over-grazing, industrial,
chemical and oil pollution (which includes spills, toxic waste and gas flaring) to
mining, solid waste management, gully and coastal erosion, sea-level rise, urban
flooding and the drying up of rivers and lakes.

Man-made trauma

Most of these problems are caused by human activity. Likewise, climate and weather
variations are a consequence of how we treat the earth, and they have led to that logic
of the ghetto. People are oppressing each other, which leads to violent conflict, the
search for greener pastures, a shift from rural to urban life, rise in slums, identity
struggles and tussles over political power. And what is the outcome? Terrorism
executed by herdsmen and farmers who see Boko Haram as a way out.

Our planet earth and natural environment have been turned into a battle ground
where the high and mighty are untouchable and the poor are subjected to the logic of
the ghetto. And Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us all, is now crying out
because of the irresponsible abuse and destruction we have inflicted on her.

Based on the theory of the logic of the ghetto, the choice is to kill and oppress
everyone or to run away. But as Pope Francis said: "It is no longer enough to speak
only of integrity of ecosystems. We have to dare to speak of the integrity of human life,
of the need to promote and unify all the great values. Once we lose our humility, and
become enthralled with possibility of limitless mastery over everything, we inevitably
end harming the society and environment."

I first learnt of the logic of the ghetto from my mentor, Rev.Fr John Patrick Ngoyi and
credit this piece to his wealth of knowledge. - Priscilla M Achakpa, executive director

of the Women Environmental Programme (WEP) in Nigeria.

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