2017 Theme – Sambafari: The Last Safari

When the world was young, and life was untethered, and the Great Rivers carried Water, the life-giver, to all four corners of the Earth, the animals ran free through Mother Africa’s warm embrace. That is when the landscape gave birth to our ancestors. Mankind brought music, and dance, and the beauty of art. But he also brought austerity and the harshness of life. So, Olorun, King of the Sky, Lord of Heaven, looked down upon the world and called out to the animals, asking them for their help in protecting his creation. But man was consumed by greed. He turned on the animals, destroying habitats, hunting them to extinction.

So Olorun turned to the animals and said, in a great sad voice, “It is time, my children. The world is dying. I shall gather the great rivers: The Amazon, The Nile, the Yangtze, the Congo, the Mississippi. I will gather up the mighty baobab and the acacia, and all the other plants of my creation. And I shall build an Ark. And we shall embark on a great journey. We shall leave this land, and begin again.”

Mother Earth is dying. Global warming, climate change, deforestation, pollution. The environment is being destroyed by mankind’s greed, and his wars. One and a half acres of rainforest are lost every second due to deforestation, threatening indigenous cultures and their ancient traditions. Our insatiable hunger for energy has caused toxic waste. And while we have enough food to feed everyone on the planet, in most developed companies we waste 30-50% of it. Massive corporations wield immense political strength and continue to drive ill-regulated fossil fuel sourcing missions. Terrorism and war continue to spread, destroying infrastructure and access to basic needs, eroding civil liberties and human rights for millions of people.

The natural world is in the midst of a mass extinction as wild places are destroyed by conversion to farmland, mining and pollution, and animals are hunted in huge numbers. In October, a major analysis found the number of wild creatures was on track to fall by two-thirds by 2020, compared to 1970. In Africa the cheetah is threatened by habitat loss and hunting for their pelt. The African Lion is being hunted to extinction. Mountain gorillas are easy-going vegetarians who lead a peaceful, playful life, yet thanks to the Rwandan civil war and destruction of their habitat they are once again one of the most endangered animals in the world. Coveted for their horn, both the black and the white rhino are being killed out. Hippos are hunted for their meat. Poaching, conflict and habitat destruction continue to threaten both the African and Asian elephant. In the Kalahari desert brown hyenas are endangered by hunters who wrongly believe they kill livestock. Africa and India are experiencing a vulture crisis, with 16 species vulnerable to extinction thanks to food loss, habitat destruction and poaching. Extinction also threatens 36% of the world’s chameleons, their biggest threat habitat degradation. Giraffes have also been affected by habitat loss, and are now on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s ‘Red List’. Logging and deforestation has pushed the great Philippine Eagle to the brink of extinction. Lemurs are the worlds most endangered mammals, owing to illegal logging which is a result of poverty brought on by political turmoil. The Wild Water Buffalo is under threat from habitat loss, diseases transferred from and interbreeding with domestic livestock.

Sambafari is the last safari. It is our final journey, our last chance to save mother nature and the animals from man. It is our last chance to save man from himself.