While the United Nations is calling for the emergence of “environmental champions” to raise public awareness of environmental protection, Jonathan Olakunle, a Nigerian activist dressed as Spiderman, is challenging public opinion on the dangers of solid waste.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) estimates that 11,2 billion tons of solid waste are collected worldwide every year. Africa, which is relatively less polluting than the other continents, nevertheless generates 125 million tonnes of solid waste, of which 81 million tonnes are collected in sub-Saharan Africa alone. A figure that is likely to double before 2025, according to the author of the book "Regional Development in Africa", Norbert Edomah.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with nearly 208 million inhabitants, alone generates 32 million tonnes of solid waste, of which only 4% is recycled. If the figure is insignificant compared to a country in Asia or Europe, it is considered very high for the African average.
For environmental activist Jonathan Olakunle Olanlokun, the question is above all aesthetic. “I'm not happy with the way I see litter everywhere, it's become our normal way of life. It's not supposed to be. I started to militate in 2004. I hate dirty environments and I always clean my environment”, he simply asserts in an interview.
Jonathan Olakunle is an ordinary activist who, from his hometown of Osogbo in southern Nigeria, cleans the streets in his spare time. Its own way of participating in protecting the environment. But in recent months, Jonathan Olakunle has become a symbol of the ecological struggle.
Jonathan Olakunle, hero maker
Indeed, frustrated by the lack of motivation of the populations, Olakunle thought of an original and funny way to draw attention to what he does. Every weekend, he dons a Spiderman costume. According to him, "you don't have to be a superhero to keep the city clean".
Internet users are divided. Between the mockery – Jonathan Olakunle, the “Nigerian Spiderman”, has become a meme on social networks – but also the encouragement, Jonathan Olakunle is starting to be taken more and more seriously.
It is another much better known young person, the Nigerian ecologist Oluwaseyi Moejoh, president of three organizations for climate action and environmental justice, who acclaimed the philosophy of Jonathan Olakunle. Since then, the “Nigerian Spiderman” has undeniably been a champion in the fight against pollution in Nigeria. On their own, hundreds of students began cleaning the streets of Nigerian cities over the weekend, dressed like Jonathan Olakunle in a Spiderman costume!
This is not a campaign, but simply a call to action, which increasingly inspires young Nigerians. A result that Jonathan Olakunle coveted, precisely. "I put on the Spiderman costume to get people's attention. I want them to like what I do. I want them to become heroes too,” he rejoices.