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Mozambique: cyclists head for Kenya in climate change ride

African cyclists have set off on a 4000-mile pilgrimage by bike across Africa to raise awareness of climate change and show that people of faith are engaging with the challenge it presents ...

African cyclists have set off on a 4000-mile pilgrimage by bike across Africa to raise awareness of climate change and show that people of faith are engaging with the challenge it presents.

The audacious peddlers set off from Mozambique in southern Africa and will cycle through nine countries before reaching their destination in Nairobi, Kenya, on November 15 where a faith leaders’ summit to discuss climate change will take place.

The cyclists, 10 of whom are cycling the whole way, will be joined by many others at different points along the way, including 74-year-old Victor Coutries from Soweto, South Africa.

They have taken on the pilgrimage to try and collect a million signatures to their Act Now For Climate Justice petition and raise awareness of the impact climate change is having on their continent.

Victor (right) sees his cycling as an act of prayer.

“When I was young, summer was summer, winter was winter but now summer is like winter and winter is like summer. When it rains, it can cause havoc these days,” he said before setting off.

“The moment one cycles, people ask, what is going on? Then you can tell people about climate change. Cycling for me is like a prayer, showing that I am committed through taking action.”

He hopes his example will encourage people to take action. He said: “I cycle everywhere, I don’t like to use a car – I’m happier when I’m cycling. This is another important message of the campaign – we must rely on ourselves, not use the car all the time.

“The Bible shows us that we need to act. God sacrificed his Son, now we need to take on the baton and make a sacrifice ourselves. I am doing this because I believe it is important to show our commitment through actions, not words.”

The pan African cycling caravan has already had an impact in the countries in which it has passed through. The President of Botswana, Tseletse Khama, even paid for a new bike for one of the group.

En-route the cyclists are also planting thousands of trees. In Botswana one such tree was planted by Bishop Champion Malongwa, chair of the Botswana Council of Churches. He said: “As a country we have serious water and far reaching environmental effects. I am now old, but my interest is to see that present and especially future generations do not suffer.”

Lydia Mogano. another South African, said it was time for people of faith to demonstrate the benefits of living simply and not abusing creation.

She said: “We need to learn how to live consciously and intentionally again. We can no longer live as if the world’s resources are infinite and should consider the material choices we make and what impact these make.

“Climate change is exacerbating our already existing problems of food security, water scarcity and health issues, we can’t afford to live carelessly any longer. Faith provides us with the moral compass to navigate this time we find ourselves in.”

The petition calling on world leaders to strike an ambitious global deal in Paris this December which will protect the world’s most vulnerable people, can be found at actclimate.org.

Photos: Top: the cyclists plant a small sapling; Middle: Victor Coutries; Above: the cyclists on the road. Photos by M'theto Lungu/Christian Aid

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