Youth for Positive Change interviewed Nada Hage about the challenges of promoting sustainability as a youth activist in Ghana.
YPC: Hi Nada. First off, can you tell us what (or who!) inspired you to get involved in activism?
NH: I’ve always had this urgent need to fix everything ‘broken’ in this world. And I found it hypocritical, especially here in certain parts of Africa, where people wish to have the same conditions and state of the environment as some More Economically Developed Countries (MEDCs), and yet are unwilling to put in the effort, or even have the faith, to get there. I have always believed it’s possible and want to initiate and be a part of that change and that is why I chose to get involved in activism.
YPC: Following up on that, what was your initial experience of activism and how has it shaped your current work?
NH: It was a thrill in the beginning – the excitement of doing something this big was unbelievable. However, things began to slow down as I realized just how big my plans actually were. I did, of course, encounter a fair share of pessimists along the way, who by the way were the very people I had hoped would be supportive. The most common reactions were either: ‘Take your plans elsewhere, it’s never going to work in Ghana,” or simply “It’s impossible. It’s not going to work here.” I’ve learned many lessons from the path I took; I am nowhere near my goal; but I can honestly say I am improving in my leadership and social skills. It has created multiple opportunities and opened many doors for me.
YPC: Our generation is often (unfairly) described as “entitled” and “overly sensitive.” Do you feel as though these statements are reflective of Gen-Z?
NH: We have a right to a clean and healthy environment. If people want to call that entitled, I’m fine with that. In our schools, there is a great deal of focus on the environment and sustainability and we are growing up with an environmentally-friendly mindset. I think one thing older people get wrong about our generation is they think we are too sensitive. Times have changed and things are different since they were young. Honestly, we are just acknowledging things that they have turned a blind eye to. Gen-Z is entitled to a sustainable planet and we will do everything to make sure we get one, even though we played no part to get the Earth to the state it is in today!
YPC: Have you ever found any difficulty in joining so-called “social-justice movements” because of your age?
NH: Yes, quite a few times. I was once told I’m not going to get anywhere with my plans, because “no one listens to a child.” However, I refuse to let society define what I can and cannot do. I’ve also not been taken seriously, because I’m told that I’m just a child with a “youthful spirit and dreams that are out of reach.” People have even told me that I would die once I stepped into the real world. But I refuse to listen to them, because the dreams I have aren’t selfish. Someday, someone, somewhere will benefit from my actions today.
YPC: What, in your opinion, is the biggest obstacle to the climate justice movement?
NH: Getting people to acknowledge that there is a problem that needs to be solved would be number one. Number two: getting them to willingly do something about it.
YPC: Finally, are there any tips you would give to young people who want to get involved in activism?
NH: You will face challenges. We all face them. But you have to keep moving forward. Don’t slow down as you get closer to your goal. Consistency is key! Because people and things will return to their old state once you begin to relax. Keep up the pace you began with till the very end. And as cliche as it sounds, don’t give up at any point!
BIOGRAPHY: Nada Hage is the founder of A Green Ghana, an organization dedicated to promoting sustainability in Ghana.