Until 1992, Mozambique had been largely isolated from the rest of the world. From 1977-1992, civil war tore through the country. The heavy use of landmines kept people from moving or expanding into other areas of the nation. Mozambique’s unique past, however, has created a distinctive present and future for the country’s landscapes. People were unable to move during this long period of history, so much of the country’s open space was untouched and thus preserved.
Majka Burhardt sees a unique opportunity to use Mozambique’s unfortunate past as a way to promote sustainable development for the future. Burhardt is a Princeton alumna, professional climber, Patagonia rock climbing ambassador, and founder of Legado, a nonprofit that strives to, “catalyze legacy-driven leadership to support a flourishing future for the people and biodiversity of Africa,” according to its website legado.org.
When Burhardt visited Bates last Wednesday to promote Legado’s short film Namuli, she instantly made it known that the goal of the project was to embrace Legado’s mission statement with full force. Namuli follows Burhardt’s journey, along with a full team of climbers and scientists, in their effort conduct an ecological survey on Mount Namuli, Mozambique’s second tallest peak, while attempting the first climbing ascent on the mountain at the same time.
However, the central objective of this project according to its website is, “to develop a community-based sustainable management system around Mount Namuli to conserve its rich and unique biodiversity as well as the critically important ecosystem services it provides to surrounding inhabitants.”
As the film reveals the story of Burhardt and the rest of Legado’s work at Mount Namuli, it is clear that Burhardt has invested her whole self into this project, but also knows that Namuli is not a project for herself. Before the film started she said, “this project would not be successful if even one component fell short. Everything, the science, the climbing, the community partnership needs to work, and if the people living on Mount Namuli don’t want us there, then the point in moot.”
Aside from Burhardt being incredibly engaging herself, Namuli is equally so. The film is able to capture just how intense and passionate the people working on the project are. Regardless of their role, whether they are a climber, scientist, filmmaker, or community member, each person involved in this project has invested fully into the mission statement of Namuli. And in just 23 days at Mount Namuli, the community and Legado’s team are able to forge a partnership that leads to the finding a new snake species, the southernmost record of a specific caecilian species (a legless amphibian), and a total of 60 species documented to be living in the Mount Namuli ecosystem.
The Namuli conservation project itself is an impressive feat, but what makes it special is the short film about the project’s process and progress. Namuli allows us to see the work in action and experience Mozambique both in the auditory and visual senses. The film allows viewers to have an up-close look at the people and organisms that live on and around Mount Namuli. It brings this legacy-driven project to life with passion and intrigue. In its 23 minute run-time, this film is able to transport viewers to Mount Namuli and also inspire them to want to learn more. The beautiful shots of the mountain, the organisms, and the people catalyze an emotional connection between viewers and all elements of the Legado project. You can watch the Namuli trailer at www.legadoinitiative.org.