Recently, His Holiness, Pope Francis issued an Encyclical, titled: “Laudato Si” or “Praise be to you”, which squarely condemned all forms of environmental degradations. It was a clarion call on every one to stop being indifferent but to care for creation and be mindful of the consequences of their actions and inactions to Mother Nature. His emphasis was on human – nature relationship.
The Holy Father equated the relationship between man and the earth/nature with the relationship between humans and one another and that between humans and God. According to him, how one relates to the earth is as important as to how one relates to God.
The Pope did not only state the dangers of pollution and global warming, but also spoke out against the role companies from developed countries play in perpetrating environmental pollution, contamination and dumping of toxic wastes in Third World countries which they dare not do in their own.
He also condemned lack of interest in efforts to improve conditions and care for Mother Nature. He said that any activity of man, no matter how beneficial, which does serious irreparable damage to the atmosphere and to the world, should be stopped forthwith. The Pope called for the replacement without delay of the use of highly polluting fusil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.
The Pope said that man’s dominion over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship through caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving it. “That man is created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth does not justify absolute domination over other creations”, said the Holy Father. He therefore called for decisive action here and now through change in lifestyles and through everyday gestures to minimize environmental degradation.
It is lamentable that despite several decades of passionate appeals by well-meaning individuals and groups, the leading culprits of environmental degradation namely – the industrialized nations of Europe and America, who have partially destroyed their own environments and natural settings, are hell bent on totally destroying whatever is valuable in Africa in particular and other developing countries. The capitalists have continued to maintain their stranglehold on the Third World countries. They have no respect for their environment and that is why they dump toxic wastes in these poor continents. The Pope’s latest encyclical is therefore a clarion call to the perpetrators of this evil to have a change of heart.
This document is most commendable, and timely for addressing the challenges posed to Africa by the capitalist/economic practices of the advanced countries on our natural environment.
Africans on their part should equally listen to the Pope. They should celebrate this document and resist every attempt by any individual or group to use the continent as a dumping ground. Africans should make a paradigm shift from their destructive mind set of trying to be like the Europeans and Americans to appreciating, preserving and protecting their numerous natural resources.
It is time to lay emphasis on our own products including natural foods and medicinal herbs. It is time for us to cultivate the habit of respecting our environment. It is only Africans who can preserve their own environment, being complacent and being indifferent would not be a solution to the continuing degradation of our environment. This is the time to act. Our governments should come up with eco-friendly policies that should get the people involved and interested in protecting the nature and our environment.