Save the Shea Nut movement was founded by Mustafa Gerima in 2018, based in Northern Uganda’s Yumbe town. The past years have seen deforestation of the Shea Nut butter trees in his community. This propelled him into becoming an activist, leaving his paid work as a biology teacher, to protect the Shea trees - categorized as vulnerable in the IUCN list.
Our work is anchored on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1,5,7,13 and 17 which are No Poverty, Gender Equality, Affordable and Clean Energy, Climate Action and Partnerships for the Goals.
Known as Kumara in our local dialect, it is a huge part of my community’s identity where we use it as baby oil, medicine, nutritious fruit and use its oil for cooking. It has also sustained us for generations as fuel as my ancestors used it only for domestic purposes.
Trees are cut down by individuals from outside the community which are then sold as charcoal in bulk for commercial purposes. This has led to the drastic reduction in the Shea nut tree in the Yumbe community. Given the urgency of the climate crisis and the important part these trees play in his community, in August 2019, Mustafa decided to walk to Kampala trekking over 520kms to the Ugandan Parliament to raise awareness of the plight of the tree. Later on in February 2020 he advanced his walking from the Ugandan capital of Kampala to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) office in Nairobi, Kenya trekking a distance of 664KMS to take his concerns for the Shea Nut Trees into the World's largest environmental body. Due to the pandemic, he had to rush back as the lockdowns took effect.
He is now working on financially empowering women who have been hard hit due to the covid crisis in his community.