Who inspires you in your campaigning? Who do you look up to? Who motivates your campaigning?
I may have struggled to answer that question until recently when I attended the Sheila McKechnie Foundation campaigners’ conference and heard Kumi Naidoo speak about campaigning. Kumi was recently appointed the executive director of Greenpeace International and has an awesome campaigning background
He gave the key note speech at the SMK event and I could have listened to him all day. If you do one thing this year as part of your development I urge you either to hear him speak or read his writing.
There was so much to take from his speech. I was taken by him saying that the core principles of campaigning are still valid. He appealed to a sense of history for our current campaigning. History tells us that decent people must stand up and put their life on the line. In saying that, he added that he felt that campaigners put too much emphasis on the insider track. Food for thought.
He spoke of two tribes in campaigning – one internally focussed and one externally focussed – but his key message that struck a chord with me was that these two tribes need to work together. He pointed to the success of the landmine campaign that led to the Ottowa treaty, where the insider and outside campaign strategies had worked together.
He also said that the struggle was a marathon, not a sprint, and that we need to offer a lifetime of commitment. Maybe this is a message that we could take to our funders?
But above all his passion and his commitment shone through for me from his words. In all of our talk about professionalising campaigning, we must never lose sight of why we campaign. We must never lose sight of the injustice and the change we seek in our world. Yes, we should be professional – but professional with passion and spark – without that we will never achieve our goals in our lifetimes of struggle.
For more information about Kumi Naidoo: