Robin Jones

We Cannot Eat Coal, We Cannot Drink Oil

Oil and 24k gold leaf on aluminum panel, Image: 24"h x 18"w, framed: 30.25"h x 24.25"w, Item No. 18511,

This is climate activist Vanessa Nakate of Uganda. She began her activism in 2018 after becoming alarmed about the record-high temperatures in her country. Taking inspiration from Greta Thunberg, Nakate began a solitary strike outside of the gates of the Ugandan Parliament. She founded the Youth for Future Africa and Rise Up movements, and in 2019 was one of only a handful of youth climate activists to speak at the COP25 conference in Spain. She started the Green Schools Project, a renewable energy initiative with the goal of transitioning Ugandan schools to solar energy. In 2020 she was cropped out of a photo of youth climate activists by the AP news agency- the only person of color in the photo. Nakate carries a sign for her weekly Friday protests that reads “we cannot eat coal, we cannot drink oil”.

There are presently 184 species of butterflies that inhabit Uganda that are listed as ‘threatened’, some of which are included in this painting.