The environment has played a very critical role in human civilization. It is the context in which all that has been achieved could be achieved and all that couldn’t could not. To some, an environment is synonymous to distance or confinement. Some form of limitation, a home whose boundaries can be set and known. In art, in poetry especially, environments play a critical role too. They are major sources of the artist’s pains, joys, and epiphanies. All that relates to the artist has its roots running down her environment or is in fact one of the many fruits of that environment. Here in poetry, true is the statement, “man does not exist in a vacuum”—and even if he did, that vacuum would still account for his environment and he would write about the vacuum.
To others an environment is not static, just like systems and society, it grows and branches out and forms other versions of itself away from the source. The environment is the river carrying its waters wherever they are welcome and sometimes even where they are not permitted to wander. The environment is the air, the wind dancing about when happy, and causing terror when hurt. All this to show you that an environment can be perceived as life; a living thing that not only sits still sleeping waiting to be bones and then dust but that it is busy leaping from fire to fire, riding this cloud and that cloud, and roaming from sky to sky.
I think an environment is both static and dynamic; an environment is me and it is also my body. For the longest time, if not all the time, my body has been my primary home. It is the first example about how the outside works. On it, when it is hot or I am sick, rains pour. On it, when I am eating well or unwell, things grow so big the body distorts into different shapes and forms different habits. However, however much I change in height, intellect, sensibility or weight I remain the same me. If all things are well and agreeing, I remain with the same body I am safe and happy in. In summary, things happen to the environment and the environment happens to things.
When floods come the environment swells up and for a while looks like an abandoned ocean full of poison for the environment. Debris, plastics, wood and metal objects float all over it making it look even uglier. When droughts hit, same story, the environment’s beauty and form is mangled into a hopeless sight that brings tears and tremendous worry to many. In the good and the bad, however, the environment still remains our only dwelling. Likewise, a home does not stop being a home because you are no longer sweeping it: it just becomes a dirty home.
The United Nations through Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, and 15 continues to do impressive work in saving our shared environment, Earth, by putting up goals and actions. These goals and actions are aimed at helping to keep things intact under water, above the land, in the cities and the wild. The trend has been that few people seem bothered at what they do to their dwelling, worse most are unbothered by what results their actions are reaping. For example, many people still hold the position that Global Warming is a conspiracy theory. They choose to blind to the ills they perpetually perpetrate on the environment, like how they dispose of waste, fumes, and other after-use chemicals. They are hiding behind the comfort that there are some mean and loony people out there in combats or white coats, gloves and goggles busy setting the earth in a giant oven for their own gain and amazement. Even if this was true, must we not then at least think that maybe us being docile plays right into their gain, to defraud us of the one place we share as a home? Another notable institution that is furthering the work of fighting for a better environment is our partner, Centre for Environmental Justice Zambia (CEJ). Matter of fact, they will be hosting a two-day Environmental Protection Dialogue (EPD) 2021 from 14 – 15 October, 2021 in Lusaka, Zambia.
In as a much as the environment can change, can adapt to facing harshness, it must not be for granted and forgotten this Earth is the only one we have. Like a body, it can become obese or very malnourished, and deform to something we never imagined it would. Our bodies remain our only abodes whether we burn or freeze them, similarly our environment remains our home, dirty or fatal, for us to survive in. Therefore, better care should be taken in tending and repairing whatever discernable damages our environments maybe suffering. Be it politically, economically, or socially our environments like our bodies from time to time need checkups and cleansing.
Poetry In Society as regards to the environment reads something like this:
‘THE NEW WAY’ by Chikondi Mary
By the briskness of the breezes.
By the freshness of the waters.
By the parting of the waves.
In the visitation of the seasons .
By the scrapping of the Barrel
and the fanning of the fire’s flames.
By the rhythms of the oceans.
The complexity of physics
The radiation emitted by fossil fuels heated
by machines and carried out by the muscle of men.
Men tapping from elements from far
and near experimenting with nature.
Both cutting edge and nothing new…
Save one more River and one more tree.
‘TOWARDS NEW ENERGY’ by Cathy Faith Zulu
Broken bottles and pieces of glass
wadded up newspapers tossed on the grass
pouring of concrete and tearing out of trees
this is the environment that surrounds me
Poisons and insecticides sprayed on our food
oceans filled with thick oil crude
all see life destined to a slow, awful doom
these are the things we are to consume
Mill pumping out iron, expelling fumes
airlines emitting gases from fuels
weapons of destruction tested at desolate sites
and this is the air that sustains life.
‘SUSTAINABLE RENEWABLE ENERGY’ by Future
We are no longer spoilt for choice
Going green has grown from a cocktail talk
to a pivotal point of our clean green future generation
Reformation brings transformation to the nation
To see the light on the horizon,
We need to see people who have risen
and have reasons to make use of the importance
of these sustainable renewable energies
We shall get beyond the sins of our forefathers
who did the best they could
now it’s up to us to apply common sense
Go above and beyond the call of duty believe me
To abscond to mars is not yet a viable option
Beyond reasonable doubts
Sustainable renewable energy
benefits the economy through reliable power supplies
and fuel diversification which enhances energy security
It lowers risky deals and fuel spills whether in flat lands or hills
Even energy supply diversification
Doing away with destitution as a nation
In all, we are what our environment is. Better put, we are what we do to our environment because that is exactly what it does back to us. If we pollute it, it pollutes us back. If we tend to it well, it heals us back. Unless the environment is safe and happy in our hands, we will never be at peace sitting in its hands. This is the message on the tongue of poetry being read out to society.
Gerry Sikazwe is the Communication Lead at Word Smash Poetry Movement, a seasoned literary voice and enthusiast of youth development. He lives and writes from Lusaka, Zambia.