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What is African Environmentalism?

What is it?


It is the traditional African beliefs that governed relationships between people of Africa and the animal world. This encompassed the belief that there is no sharp distinction between God and nature and no exact boundaries between man’s habitat and that of wild animals.


An example of African environmentalism:


In Old Africa, every tribe and clan had an animal it regarded as its totem. It was the tribe’s sacred duty to protect that animal and never to harm it within their territory. Tribes would also respect the animals that co-existed with their totem animals. Tribes had a duty to not only protect the totem animal, but also the animals that co-existed with them, of which their natural predators were included.  


Is there relevance for it today?


Modern Africa has been greatly influenced by Western separatism, becoming greedy and detached from its heritage. Western separatism removed God from everyday life, from creation, from nature. As a result, Africa has been opened to the field for environmental plundering.


Through colonialism, standard practice was to be spiritually and physically separate from wildlife. It became common to view wildlife as objects for profit, gain and so-called ‘sport’.  In Africa generally, the erosion of African environmentalism in the colonial period was a portion of the erosion of the African dignity generally – a loss that, coupled with original environmentalism, needs to be rediscovered, identified and cherished.


Old Africa did not possess the greedy nature prevailing today. At harvest time, for example, some corn was left so passing birds could share in the bounty.


Humankind needs to reignite the reverence and respect for the environment. It needs to expel notions of superiority and entitlement and regain the African beliefs that historically governed relationships between man and animal. This is why the revival of African environmentalism is so relevant today.


How can it make a difference?


If the belief that in everyone lay a spiritual animal, which was the anchor in the shifting surface of the troubled planet, existed today, there would be far less conservational issues. Viewing God in everything, equals respect and reverence for the environment.


Wildlife preservation is as old as Africa. Traditionally, Africans regarded wildlife as a blessing, as sacred and vital for the continued existence of humans.  Wildlife was respected and revered because it was believed wildlife was the soul and life-blood of mother earth. By drawing on indigenous environmental beliefs and values, this can make a vital difference today in the preservation of the continents wildlife and wild places.


So why Sekai?


Who is Sekai?

A working group advocating the validity of indigenous environmentalism in today’s Africa. A grouping dedicated to the re-emergence of authentic African Environmentalism, and the application of this environmentalism, while striving for the preservation of Africa’s wildlife and wild places. 


What does Sekai do?

It creates awareness about African Environmentalism and undertakes advocacy for African wildlife and wild places. Sekai publishes articles on African Environmentalism.


How can you get involved?

You can contribute articles; inform and educate us about communities where African Environmentalism is alive and positively working to conserve Africa’s wildlife and wild places.


A bit about Sekai:


Sekai is the Tswana word for ‘symbol’ or ‘omen’.


Sekai’s aims:


To promote understanding and knowledge of traditional African beliefs that historically governed relationships between man and animal.


To create contrasting awareness to the existing colonially rooted conservation policies. African environmentalism has an important and relevant role to play in the preservation of wildlife and wild places in today’s Africa.


To advocate Western trophy hunting is un-African and is an outdated notion from the colonial past.


To create awareness that the demand for ivory, rhino horn, and lion bones, is not an African demand, but that of the East and the West. Africa is left environmentally and spiritually poorer because of these foreign demands.




Through advocacy and awareness of African environmentalism, Sekai strives to move away from the ideas of conservation apartheid, separatism and the foreign driven exploitation of animals, and to move towards harmony and respect for Africa’s wildlife and wild spaces. 


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