A Bigger Picture is a book that is so needed. In climate activist spaces, the primary literature is written by citizens of the Global North, and most of them are white. Author Vanessa Nakate is a Ugandan climate activist and hearing her words, her story, her point of view is incredibly important.
We need to listen to those who are already facing the brunt of climate breakdown. In this book Nakate tells her story, and gives an overview of how climate change is already impacting Uganda, and other places throughout Africa. The picture she paints is painful to read, but it is true, and we need to take it into our understanding of climate justice. As she points out, we read the news articles of the Amazon and Australia burning, but the Congo Rainforest never makes the news.
In this book, Nakate talks about her own story of becoming an activist in a country where protesting could lead to her arrest. She highlights the moment at the World Economic Forum in Davos where she, the only activist from Africa, and the only Black activist, was cropped out of a photo of youth climate activists and how this exclusion galvanized her and opened the eyes of those around her.
She continues the book by telling important ways that Uganda, and other nations of the Global South and of Africa, can help combat the climate crisis. By installing clean burning stoves and switching to solar, like Nakate’s organization Vash Green Schools Project supports, by divesting from fossil fuels and creating green jobs, by supporting girls’ education and acting now, before it’s too late.
She discusses racism, sexism, and how culture impacts people’s ability to take action. She mentions burn out and taking care of yourself as an activist, and how important connecting to other people is. She discusses medical racism in the COVID-19 pandemic, structural racism and Black Lives Matter, and environmental racism and air pollution, and how colonization is continuing to impact people across the globe. She mentions the interconnectedness of everything, every system, both man-made and natural, which I personally loved.
At times, I struggled to connect with the writing style, and felt it too broad, but all in all this is an incredibly well researched book that packs a big punch, and one that every climate activist should read.