Art Showcase

Connecting to Nature Futures through Art

As part of the Youth Nature Futures project, youth groups all over southern Africa produced various forms of art to express their relationship with nature, and how they think and feel about the future.

Summary video of artists’ submissions to
Youth Nature Futures
Motherland – a poem by Poetess Phopho, inspired by Youth Nature Futures
(for the full text please see below)

Youth. Nature. Futures. Art.

After two online workshops exploring current impacts of environmental change in the lives of southern Africa’s youth, as well as their visions for more sustainable and just futures, many of the youth groups participated in an art competition.

In total, 16 projects were chosen and funded to create art that links young people to environmental change and their hopes and dreams for the future.

Projects included a variety of artistic expressions, from murals and poems to songs and dance, to creative signage and recipe collections.

Find out more about the amazing artworks by clicking on the #hashtag in the pictures or scrolling through the (alphabetical) list below!

During the Youth Nature Futures workshops, Nametso Phonchi-Tshekiso harvested ideas and impressions and created the poem Motherland.


Our geography is made of up of brown cities and distant green villages
Near by is a city We all desire;
Her golden skylines reflecting in crimson hues,
uncanvassed to heal  her land and 
deliver promises to her unborn generations. 
An Africa driven by bloodlines of juvenile delicate spirits, 
Wind whirled by the desire for documented human stories.

We have longed for her before. 
Sang in hymns and marched for her golden horizons
We are called to follow the smoke of her greenhouse gases emissioned  far in the distant cityscape.
The encoupling of blooming flowers and indigenous shrubs on the side walks of her villages; a navigation for silent dreamers.
Green waters on each side of the rustic tall bridges; a beautiful chaos making the future a dancing hub of unique harmony.
The geography of wastes piled on kerb stones swaying in cold breeze, a reminder to passerby’s to always carry their litter home.

We are called. 
We are purposed.
To build a legacy we have long desired,
brick by brick.
To fit our dreams into a world that knows us name for name,
yet forgets to call us to tables of conversation.
We are puzzle pieces in a earth that heals herself like the medicine woman,
With burning torches on one hand, water on the other
We are a series of ideas headed for change.
In this space that yearns for our creativity 

Our inviting green and blue geographies extend over political borders,
We are bold, strongest in our bloodlines,
we hold atlases of our home in the palm of our hands with the desire to one day
Invite global leaders to travel in thought of us and in remembrance of home.
Motherland is harmony,
Motherland is a pollution free city, calling explorers and guests
back into her warmest embrace.

- Nametso Dorothy Phonchi-Tshekiso

Artists Create Together (ACT!)

Organized by the Community Forum (COFO) in Chikwawa district, Malawi, this project focused on providing a platform for local artists to explore environmental protection and the consequences of climate change.

One of the key environmental issues facing this area of Malawi is deforestation, which has been linked to increased flooding. Through this project, more than 40 young people were engaged and learned about the consequences of cutting trees and climate change. The participants created drawings and poems, and plans are being made to expand the project to address deforestation more widely and bring it to the whole nation.

Poem about trees, titled “It’s a Pillar of the World”, by Clement Phiri, one of the participants of ACT!
(find the full text here)

Awareness through Rap Music

This is one of five projects developed within the AEFUM organization of Mozambique.

The goal of this project is to promote environmental awareness through the medium of social intervention rap. There is a special focus on protecting mangrove habitat along the Mozambican coast, which represents a critical ecosystem under threat from urban expansion, deforestation, pollution and other human activities.

Music has great power to influence people’s minds, and rap music in particular has the potential to speak to the youth, which constitutes the majority of the Mozambican population. The artist André Cardoso, known as MC Chamboco, is from Maputo and has a long history of using rap in pro-youth activism.

Listen to the songs below!

Mae Natureza

MC Chamboco

Verde Maria

MC Chamboco
Find the full lyrics to “Verde Maria” here
(in Portuguese & English)

Clean & Sustainable Neighbourhoods

This is one of five projects developed within the AEFUM organization of Mozambique.

The project aims to reduce plastic pollution in Maputo neighbourhoods by collecting plastic bottles that have been discarded, and transforming them into art, such as vases, chairs, and other items.

This initiative encourages not only more environmental care among young people, but also teaches them valuable entrepreneurship skills.

Creating Our Future Together

This project, led by the YouLead initiative of Project 90 by 2030, aims to build awareness about climate change injustices through “artivism” in Cape Town, South Africa.

Through a mixture of dance, poetry, and music, the project highlights the intersections of climate change injustices, and offers opportunities for people to discuss climate realities and actions to achieve a better world.

The central idea behind this project is to show that there are other ways of raising awareness than webinars and workshops.

In addition, the project brought together YouLead participants to imagine a better future, and develop messages, songs, and art for the next climate march.

Raising awareness of climate change injustices through dance, poetry, and music

Creative Sustainable Art “Trash to Luxury”

This is one of five projects developed within the AEFUM organization of Mozambique.

This project tackles the environmental issue of old tires that have been disposed of in the landscape. Tires take a long time to deteriorate, and contaminate the area in which they are dumped.

This project collects tires in the Maputo area and transforms them into decorative objects, such as tables and chairs, for indoor and outdoor use.

In addition, the project specifically aims to empower women in communities to learn new skills and thereby encourages female entrepreneurship.

Ecological Art in Mossuril Schools

This is one of five projects developed within the AEFUM organization of Mozambique.

This project is based in Nampula Province, and aims to promote ecological education through art. Students of two secondary schools in the Mossuril District were encouraged to share their experiences through drawing and writing poetry.

The context in the district is one of elevated levels of deforestation, which threatens not only the environment, but also the heritage, tourism potential, and local weather conditions of Mossuril. The art project aimed to make young people aware of these environmental issues, and encourage them to become active in protecting their natural heritage.

Guiding the Way

This project is spearheaded by Envirolove and the CLAY Foundation and aims to (Re)imagine Youth Nature Futures by empowering local youth in the Idas Valley region, South Africa, to take ownership of their natural community spaces and assets.

Thirty participants from a local youth community organization designed and installed creative route markers along five trails within the Idas Valley nature area.

The aim is to raise awareness about the value of natural spaces among the local youth, and create a safe space for all Idas Valley residents and tourists to enjoy what nature has to offer.

Creating route markers in Idas Valley

Naturaleza – Green Spaces

This project was initiated by APROPE in Mozambique. APROPE is an association of young people driven by the dream of living in a more participatory community that constantly seeks to improve quality of life, particularly in the areas of health, education, and the environment.

This art project aims to transform urban spaces by restoring a degraded plot in Maputo. First, waste found in the plot is collected and recycled, and then local vegetation is re-planted. APROPE’s vision for nature-futures in Mozambique includes such green and sustainably used urban spaces that are decorated with beautiful recycled objects.

In addition, the greening process is accompanied by the composition of a song with an educational message about the care and responsibility of young people to protect and restore green spaces. The song is based on flute music.

Nature First

This project was developed by the Zimbabwe Youth Biodiversity Network (ZYBN), in partnership with the Artzi Trust, a youth-led organization which promotes
artistic talent in Zimbabwe.

The aim of this project is to encourage young people to think about how human impacts can affect nature, what actions they can take to lessen their impact, and how to put nature first. The project is meant to focus on the positive, creating art that spreads a message of hope.

The ZYBN engaged young artists in Zimbabwe to explore their feelings about the future, and to connect our daily lives, communities, and nature through art. In addition, a focus was placed on infusing indigenous and local knowledge into the creative expressions.

Young Zimbabwean artists explore the connections between people and nature

Painting Puntaz

This project’s aim was to reimagine and reinvigorate a local community center in the Puntaz community of Durban, South Africa. Painting on Purpose, in partnership with community creatives lead by local artist Snqobile ‘Derek’ Masondo, took on the challenge of renovating and equipping the building, and installing an art room.

This project is built on the premise that beauty has an important and impactful role to play in inspiring change and shifting perceptions of one’s environment. This can be created through art and nature.

By renovating the community center, providing an art room, as well as a place filled with plants and a herb garden, the project hopes to act as a beacon of light and beauty with art and nature combined. The ultimate goal is to set up a space, accessible to all, that enables individuals to explore art as a viable career and learn the necessary skills.

Restoring a community center with nature and art

Recycle for Colouring

This is one of five projects developed within the AEFUM organization of Mozambique.

This project aims to provide young people from Maputo with tools to pursue creative arts. In addition, youths are taught about recycling, and how to use recyclable materials in their art.

The ultimate goal is to showcase creative ways in which young people can do something positive for the environment, while also contributing to their livelihoods and the local economy.

Sea Level Rise Mural

With the help of Care Creative, a sea level rise mural is being painted on the walls of a law enforcement building in Fish Hoek, Cape Town, South Africa.

It depicts the local beach-mountain scape with two projected future sea level lines. One line represents the do-nothing scenario. A line at a lower level represents the line with a reduced carbon footprint scenario. Paintings of people at different ages in an 80 year lifespan going into the future are depicted getting wet and experiencing the advancing sea-level.

The design for the mural was inspired by graphics from the City of Vancouver.

The project is being driven by environmental activists who are promoting climate awareness, environmental
restoration, and the need for us to transition to ecologically sustainable lifestyles.

The project has focused on giving a voice to the youth, most affected by Climate Change in the future. The mural was launched on Earth Day, 23 April 2021, in a community celebration filled with dace, plays, poems, and a Climate pledge.

Photographs by Margaret Stone & Liezl Hoffman.

Sustainable Food Production

The Zimbabwe Workcamps Association (ZWA) is a youth volunteer organization that seeks to empower local communities, including farmers in the low-rainfall Chaseyama region of Zimbabwe. Here, ZWA has started a center for learning about sustainable farming techniques and how to enhance food value chains.

The art project on sustainable food production aims to raise awareness about the importance of taking care of nature, which forms the basis of everything needed to survive and thrive. This message was spread through poetry and communal practice of sustainable farming principles.

“If really this is the future;

Then where are we headed?

This wasteland we are creating;

Is it our intention?

How I long for the garden of Eden once more!

How I wish to see you flourish like before.”

Jefferson Mwaruta

Traditional Food Goes Digital

The Eswatini Youth Biodiversity Network (EYBN) initiated this project that uses digital media and contemporary art to conserve traditional knowledge through food. EYBN recognized that food is art, and connects us to heritage, indigenous knowledge, and environmental change.

Through digital platforms and radio interviews, EYBN encouraged the sharing of local recipes and childhood memories by fellow Emaswati. Other information was collected at local restaurants, cultural sites, and museums. All the stories and recipes were then brought together in a journey of digitizing indigenous food.

The EYBN acknowledges that the future of young people is dependent on the past, as well as what actions we take in the present, in order to build a healthy, sustainable, and culturally seasoned future.

Poster of the traditional foods and recipes collected
Summary poster of “Traditional Food Goes Digital”

Trash into Treasure

The South African Youth Biodiversity Network (SAYBN) initiated this project to turn ordinary household objects into art.

The SAYBN has a history of engaging in initiatives that focus on waste management and recycling, and this art project was envisioned as another opportunity to showcase the endless creative possibilities that are embodied in recyclable items.

Youths from Midrand in South Africa created a variety of crafts from both glass and plastic bottles collected from businesses and households in the local area. Many of the re-imagined treasures were donated to a local pre-school, as well as to the participating households in the community.

Umodzi Pamodzi (One Together) Music

This project was led by the Music Inspires Foundation, based in Zambia. It recognizes that stories connect us to the planet and to each other, and that it is critical to elevate local voices representing diverse perspectives in order to accelerate global action towards more sustainable futures. Music storytelling provides an avenue for that.

In addition, this project acknowledges that young people are best poised to tell stories that drive local-led solutions to current conservation challenges. Engaging and amplifying new voices will help to ensure the continued efforts around environmental conservation and sustainability at this very critical moment in history.

Building on this understanding, Joseph Pupe from the Music Inspires Foundation created a song called “We Have The Power”, which captures the energy of young people shaping their own, more sustainable future.

Listen to the song below!

We Have the Power

Joseph Pupe, Music Inspires Foundation

The End

This project was made possible thanks to the generous support of:

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