Kumi Naidoo: Celebrating Black Excellence In Advocacy And Activism

by Duke Magazine

Kumi Naidoo is a South African human rights and environmental crusader. He is the first Global Ambassador for Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity.

Born in 1965 in Durban, South Africa, Kumi had the first taste of activism at age 15, fighting against apartheid in South Africa and which led to his expulsion from high school. However, he was undeterred as he went on to become a full blown activist.

Between 2009 and 2015, Kumi became the first African head of Greenpeace, an international environmentalist group, serving as its international executive director. 

Being a vocal critic of the failure of bodies like the World Economic Forum (WEF), to go beyond “system recovery”, “system protection and maintenance” instead proposing a system re-design. Kumi uses the forum to amplify environmental messages to business leaders and politicians and lobby for green business practices and transformational changes in the energy sector.

It could be recall that Kumi dropped out of school in 1990 in order to conduct literacy campaigns following the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and Mandela’s decision to run for president of South Africa. Furthermore, his voluntary activism has availed him the delight of becoming a member of many global civil bodies, such as EarthRights International, Transparency International, Amnesty International, and many more.

Kumi was the Launch Executive Director of Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity. Also, he served the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and the Global Call for Climate Action which brings together environmental aid, religious and human rights groups, labour unions, scientists and others and has organized mass demonstrations around climate negotiations.

In 2017, he was appointed as the Secretary-General of Amnesty International, the office he sits till December 2019.

Kumi is the recipient of many awards, notable of which was The James Lawson Award for peaceful activism in 2014.

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