Thuli Brillance Makama
Executive Director of Yongu Nawe/FOE Swaziland. Thuli Brilliance Makama is an Attorney and the Executive Director of the green group Yonge Nawe/ Friends of the Earth Swaziland, an environmental organization that focuses on environmental justice. As the only public interest environmental lawyer in Swaziland, Thuli has fought to ensure that local voices are heard in making environmental decisions. Since 2002, she has been fighting to enforce a provision of the Swaziland Environment Authority Act that requires the government to appoint an environmental NGO to the Swaziland Environment Authority management board. After many years of unsuccessful negotiations, Thuli filed a lawsuit, and she prevailed, ensuring that there will now be an official voice for environmental justice in Swaziland.
Thuli was named one of the winners of the most prestigious environmental award, The Goldman Prize in 2010.
Thuli has worked with local communities to help them to file lawsuits against the kingdom's flourishing private game parks. While the prize committee said it had made the award on the basis of her victory in a three-year effort to open up Swaziland's Environment Authority to public participation, Thuli is better known for standing up to private game reserves whose rangers have been accused of indiscriminate killings of poachers. By defending poachers, she could, arguably, be presented as an anti-conservationist, but that would ignore the complexities of African politics.
Thuli continues to challenge the obvious conflict of interest that these policies create, and does so at great risk. She has been threatened and harassed for her advocacy. But Thuli continues to fight to preserve her communities’ historic role in conserving resources for future generations.