Nature; My love, my pride, my joy - by Roger Milla
Many people may not know this, but I love nature and I am dedicated to the environment. It all started during my football career when I used to travel the world. As I travelled around by plane, boat, car, bus, and trains, I would watch nature and learned to appreciate her wonders which led me to falling deeply in love with it.
My love for nature led me to travel through my home country, Cameroon, to see what was there. I found rich biodiversity with abundant fresh and lush vegetation, climate variety, and fauna and this made me very proud. In time, I felt deeply indebted to Mother Earth. She made me the oldest goal scorer in World Cup history, so I decided to give her back everything she has given to me.
Looking across Cameroon, I cannot find one place I would call my ‘favourite’ because it is a collage of beauty, wonder, treasures and extraordinary men and women. Cameroon is a real gift of nature. There are plains, plateaus, the savannah, the deserts of Septentrion, the mountain range of the Grassfields, the forests and the fauna of the South, South West and the East and the beautiful beaches of fine white sand of the Littoral. I haven’t even talked about the climatic and cultural diversity or the beautiful people. There isn’t one thing or one place I can call my favourite so…I choose Cameroon. If I were a film director, I would make a film entitled "Let's Save Marvellous Cameroon."
When I started travelling and enjoying nature, we did not discuss topics like global warming, greenhouse effect, water and energy shortages etc. Today, debates, meetings and media coverages talk about global warming, biodiversity loss, water and energy shortages, deforestation, preservation and protection of endangered species and many more unlike long ago.
The difference is that now, information is available, and the degradation is real and visible as we live in the throes of climate change. The ecosystems are suffering a visible imbalance and certain species of wildlife are now extinct. Passivity and lack of action will have a disastrous impact on current and future generations including nature as a whole.
We have all seen and experienced changes related to climate change. We’ve seen a sharp rise in urban pollution and a real degradation of our rich biodiversity. We must all mobilize and work together to safeguard nature. This effort requires the active participation of all sections of the world’s population working together to promote and protect the environment.
We must be more and do more. I just wish my children and grandchildren share my dream of a world without deforestation, industrial pollution, non-biodegradable waste; a world that protects the rights of indigenous peoples and wildlife, so that people can live in harmony with nature. For this, we must involve the future of our land: the young people. In countries like Cameroon and around Africa, the youth represent over fifty percent of the population and are the most critical part of the population. We must rekindle their interest in nature and the environment and get them to participate in developing and implementing projects to protect and promote the environment. They are the greatest key to spreading the conservation message and the most active players. That is why, when I set up my foundation, we choose to have them as the cornerstone and the main levers of our program, Sports for Nature.
We need initiatives like the Earth Hour campaign to create awareness. Earth Hour goes beyond the 60 symbolic minutes of turning lights off. It is about creating new conversations, behaviours, developing eco-friendlyhabits and becoming responsibleactors in sustainable development.
As the ambassador of Earth Hour in Cameroon, I invite all my fellow citizens to join us in mobilization for the preservation of nature. Let us come together and conserve Cameroon and Africa for the sake of our children and grandchildren. Let us teach them to love and care for nature so they too can preserve it for future generations.