The timeless wake up call

Knowledge Into Use award winner, Amava Oluntu, works with young people using arts and storytelling to address and convey the impacts of climate change in Cape Town, South Africa.

Written by: Dylan Brooks
GRP Areas of work: Knowledge

In the lively coastal town of Muizenberg where the waves whispered secrets to the shore, 25-year-old Ethan Cooks stood at a turning point. Recently jobless and piecing together odd jobs to make ends meet while supporting his hardworking single mother, Ethan grappled with a palpable sense of isolation. His friends existed solely as digital avatars on his laptop screen where he spent most of his time, disconnected from the world outside.

One fateful night, as Ethan dozed off in front of his computer, a mysterious message flickered across the screen. Initially brushing it off as an online prank, it seemingly pleaded for help from a not-so-distant future. Intrigued yet skeptical, Ethan hesitated. Eventually, curiosity triumphed and he clicked the link. In a strange twist of magic and madness, that click propelled Ethan beyond the confines of time and space. His familiar surroundings distorted into a desolate future. Astonishment painted his face as he stumbled upon a decayed version of his own house, swallowed by a wasteland that once teemed with life.

This post-apocalyptic landscape revealed a haunting reality. Earth lay wounded, scarred by humanity’s disregard. A haunting silence echoed through the desolation. Meeting survivors navigating the ruins, Ethan witnessed lives entwined with a world devastated by catastrophic climate change. Among them, he encountered pioneers whose stories echoed warnings of an ignored past. They recounted nature’s swift decline and the irreversible toll on the planet stemming from human neglect. Ethan listened, his heart weighed down by the burden of an unforeseen future.

As he scoured the ruins of his hometown in search of a route home, a sudden realisation struck him like a bolt of lightning – the future wasn’t a distant realm; it was a potential destiny. Regret pierced him as he visualised Muizenberg’s fate without intervention to preserve nature and counteract climate change.

With resolve igniting within him, Ethan’s journey to return home evolved into a quest for enlightenment. The fleeting yet harrowing glimpse into a desolate future served as a catalyst for change. Every bird’s chirp and tree’s sway held newfound significance.

Accompanied by Patty, an elderly survivor navigating the harsh climate change aftermath, Ethan continued his odyssey home. Patty shared her survival tale amidst rising sea levels and reliance on nature’s resources. Her warmth and familiarity resonated with Ethan. Approaching the desolation that was once Ethan’s home, Patty confessed, “It was me, I called you here.” Ethan responded, “If someone knew the future, we could change how we live and treat the Earth.” Patty, teary-eyed, sighed in relief, affirming his intuition.

Ethan’s screen time transitioned from a passive pastime to an active catalyst for change. His journey transcended mere time-travel; it awakened his consciousness, urging action for a deserving world.

Acknowledging the fleeting nature of his future glimpse, Ethan embraced its impact. He became an advocate for a world where nature and humanity harmoniously thrived, rewriting a narrative for a better tomorrow.

Mural painted by Dylan Brooks of Amava Oluntu