By Mzukona Mantshontsho
Njeri Kabeberi is an environmental activist on a mission to work with others to foster environmental consciousness where Africa’s people seek social and economic prosperity in ways that protect the environment for the benefit of humans, the planet and the future.
Yo School Magazine recently spoke to her about his journey.
Tell us about your early life
I have travelled widely in the African continent and the rest of the world. I haven’t been to all the countries of the African continent, but I am familiar with the regions – majority of the places I have been by default through my work rather than by design. I also have my human rights activism experience in the continent.
What advice do you have for younger professionals who are looking to join the profession?
This is a good place to be; let us behave responsibly towards our environment. We need to safeguard our environment with all we have. Our efforts towards social justice should be at par if not doubled when it comes to environmental concerns, let us strike that balance, and let us have more volunteers in efforts to salvage our continent from pollution and climate change.
What initiative (if implemented) would leave the greatest impact for you and for Africa as a whole?
All our four main campaigns are extremely important for each of the four regions. A plastics campaign would however gain momentum across the continent. Africa needs to eliminate PLASTICS!
What would you say are the most critical resources for your successful leadership?
I consider my staff leaders at every level in the organization; irrespective of title and or position, I am therefore counting on their renewed commitment towards the realisation of a vibrant green movement in Africa. We will be seeking partnerships with other environmental organisations in the continent at community, national and regional level. I am counting on African governments to understand the damage we are doing to mother Earth and have the relevant policies to salvage the continent. Financial resources are important in the work that we do; it is a priority; hence we have a dedicated fundraising team working tirelessly.
I want to see all our Environmental Affairs Ministries in the continent becoming leaders in the environmental and greening movement that we are championing. Corporate are unfortunately corrupting our governments hence we constantly have issues around pollution and climate change – corporate need to understand their responsibilities to saving the environment as well for us all.
How would people describe you as a Leader?
I have an open-door policy; my team can tell you! Teamwork and teams are important to me for success.
What legacy would you want to leave by the time you retire?
The Environmental Movement in Africa is about; a common vision for Mother Africa as environmental, humanitarian and human rights activists, the governments and the private sector and the everyday citizen to reduce oppression, inequality, hunger, poverty and most of all the damage we are causing to our environment – bringing all these voices together would be the legacy I would want leave behind.
How do you strike the balance of career, business and interpersonal skills?
I bring a style of Leadership where I seek a buy-in from all stakeholders. When people understand where you are going it is easier to support you and everybody is happy. I like to build strong teams; if my team is weak, I can never be able to deliver on my mandate, it’s that simple.
How do you maintain ethics, integrity and professionalism?
Our Board has instituted an Ethics Committee to play the oversight role in that area. If we don’t conform, we may be seen as corrupt and turning a blind eye to issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace, insensitivity to minority cultures and any form of discrimination in the work spaces.
How do you participate in mentorship, if you do?
I am always encouraging people to be Role Models in whatever positions they hold. I also hope to be that Role Model in my daily interactions with people I interact with.
What makes you tick or keeps you awake at night?
The sense of urgency to change the mindsets of Africans to the importance of environmental matters, things aren’t happening as fast as I would like them to. I’m always asking God to give me time to implement the changes that we set out in our strategic plans, time to deliver on our vision and mission, time to build that Environmental Movement for Africa.