Greenny : Mission

My Favorite Place On Earth

By: Nehemie Yesashimwe

NO MAN’S LAND, At The Border- Global politics has fascinated me for the past three years. After facing the consequences of a dictatorial leadership that led to the death, arrests, and orphanage of thousands of people in Rwanda, as well as me becoming a refugee at the age of 3, I hated everything involving political ideas -good and bad- when I grew up. Things changed when peace, security, and transparency came to me after the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. I rested, put myself at ease, and started to engage. What I did wrong, though, was that I thought peace was restored everywhere. It wasn’t, and it’s not. 

After many years of doing my own things, I reluctantly resumed following politics in 2016 when the United Kingdom’s Brexit and the United States of America’s presidential elections were underway. Out of blurry and not knowing anything about those countries, I thought they had the best political systems, according to the books and textbooks I had read, lectures I attended in High School and College, and the stories I heard from friends and colleagues who have been or wish to go there. Today, I have learned that I was wrong. 

I think these places are in their best and worst moments at the same time due to the impacts their power brings in society. They still are leading contributors in many aspects, such as the economy, that we all gain and learn from. But whenever they take weird decisions such as Brexit or the construction of a border wall, they affect many other parts of the world uncomfortably. My protective tactic is to find a comfort zone and do the right thing in my rights and power. However, I believe the world needs brave people who can endure and confront the pain and disappointments caused by the negative impacts of erroneous political decisions.  

Nature, to a larger extent, suffers from those decisions and doesn’t speak for itself. It doesn’t have the mouth, technology, or weapons to protect itself from what we do to it. It doesn’t know how to write and present petitions or policies that act in its favor when we mine or extract its resources beyond its regeneration capacity. And nature at the borders is usually forgotten or severely dismantled when disputes arise between two neighboring countries or regions; because we, human beings, muddle in our own problems by looking at our own profits before we think of the environment that provides us the basic needs that we can’t live without. 

When I try to visualize what the conservation of nature is like at the U.S. Southern border or how it will be like if/when the U.K drifts apart, I don’t see an inspiring picture. I wonder what it could be like if Musanze -the district that houses the largest mountain gorillas population- completely separated itself from other regions of the country. I wonder what will happen to the Egyptian Nile when Ethiopia ends its dam construction activities on the river. I wonder what has happened to the Libyan, Somalian, Sudanese, Zimbabwean, and Central African Republic’s wildlife during and after the numerous unrests that have shaped their borders. I should travel to these places to see for myself, to make sense of tons of biases stuck in my head, and to see what I can possibly do -or avoid doing- afterward. 

I live in Rwanda, where I write, hike, and eat dagaa from Zanzibar. My favorite place on earth is at the borders, places that, in my opinion, separate what should be unified. I think that not because I ignore the role of borders in geography and security. I do so because I want to consolidate and strengthen nature conservation, even when our safety is in shambles. In fact, that’s when we need conservation most. Fun fact: I haven’t seen a gorilla that lives on the Rwanda-Uganda-Congo volcanic border because it’s terribly expensive and sometimes unsafe. I will start with that visit when I save enough. Then I will go for a conservation analysis trip in areas I have stated above, beginning with the U.S.-Mexico border wall, maybe in El Paso.