TUVALUANS RAISING GLOBAL AWARENESS ON CLIMATE CHANGE – Final in 10-part series from Damon Corrie, Amerindian Activist
Tafue Lusama is a man with a mission – from a country in crisis.
He is a proud Tuvaluan, and although his people (all 10,000 of them) contributed nothing to cause the current accelerating Global Climate Change, they are among the first and worst affected of humanity suffering from it. To state it plain and simple, the Island nation of Tuvalu is disappearing under the waves of the – right before the eyes of the present generation of Tuvaluans.
Possible solutions range from raising the level of the land on Tuvalu – which at it’s highest ‘peak‘ is less than 2 meters above sea level, and using concrete sea walls and wave breaks to slow the current erosion rate; to re-settling the entire population of Tuvalu on to the nearby line islands. During our 2 weeks as roommates on the 2009 UN affiliated Tribal Link Project Access Global Capacity Building for Indigenous Peoples in New York, I learned a lot from Tafue; and my respect and admiration for this man of honor and integrity is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I told my indigenous brother Tafue that I personally like the Line Island solution, for despite the fact that the Line Islands are claimed by the Kiribas people (who ridiculously require Tuvaluans to obtain a ‘visa’ from Kiribas to the north of Tuvalu in order to visit the Line Islands to the south of Tuvalu) – these un-inhabited islands are in fact by right of proximity rightfully Tuvaluan NOT Kiribasi.
In my opinion, with Tuvalu disappearing – drastic survival tactics need to be employed, and if that means physically occupying an uninhabited group of islands that world public opinion agrees rightfully belong to Tuvaluans – then that is what I would do – were I the Tuvaluan leader; no matter what the reaction of the Kiribasi might be.
The Line Islands are uninhabited, higher above sea level than Tuvalu, are close and almost identical in most respects; and will thereby allow for the preservation and continued survival of Tuvalu culture and identity – far better than any other alternative geographical location suggested. Historically, the British Empire (the colonial occupiers of both Tuvalu and Kiribas) forced the two distinct ethnic groups (Tuvaluans are Polynesian and the Kiribasi are Melanesian) with totally different languages and cultures – together in one artificial state.
In this colony Tuvaluans were outnumbered by Kiribasi, and had to travel from Tuvalu to Kiribas to conduct all official business, Tuvaluans also had to learn to speak Kiribas before they could enroll in school in order to learn English – so basically it was double colonization; most jobs – and indeed the best jobs were always given to Kiribasi people as a priority over the minority Tuvaluans.
Naturally, the Tuvaluans demanded political Independence – but were punished by an irate British Empire for doing so in various ways.
One way – was the fact that the joint colony had 6 ships, after Tuvalu separated they were only granted one ship – and it was the most decrepit in the fleet.
Prior to Independence (both Kiribas and Tuvalu are Independent States today) there was also a Colonial joint fund for Kiribas and Tuvaluan peoples, but once the Tuvaluans were independent – successive British administrations to this day ensure that not a cent reaches the Government of Tuvalu; forcing the Tuvaluans to seek redress in the International Law Courts for this glaring injustice and petty recrimination.
Tafue Lusama spends a considerable amount of time away from his endangered island home on behalf of his Tuvalu Climate Action Network, seeking to raise Global awareness and consciousness about Climate change and it’s terrible effects – first on the most vulnerable and innocent indigenous societies on this planet; but eventually on ALL human societies – including the developed nations (and those aspiring to join that elite club like China and India) – who in truth and in fact are precisely the very countries that are to blame for the current severe consequences of Global Climate Change.
On his recent trip to Norway, Tafue went out of his way to tell the tale of a society that has fallen victim to climate change; and by doing so he realized that most Norwegians had no idea how the actions undertaken in their country by their citizens and politicians – were having direct impacts right now in countries like Tuvalu.
Tafue has advice for all peoples who are being impacted by climate change – who have the opportunity to interact with non-indigenous peoples: “Tell your story to everyone, everywhere you go, to help them understand that this is an unfolding tragedy for ALL of humanity; not just for some nameless and faceless ‘others’ in some far away land. The world must come together and act with one mind, one purpose, or the consequences of the quickening pace of Global Climate Change will be too great for any of us to bear.”