Tribute to Andrew Robert Ewing 12/5/1943-19/11/2016 – Founder of the Global Environmental Trust
By Sheila Berry
It is a momentous and sad occasion in the history of an organisation when the founder passes away. On Saturday, 19 November 2016, Andrew Robert Ewing, the founder of the Global Environmental Trust (GET) died peacefully after a lifetime of confronting untold challenges and courageously waging endless battles. He was a strong advocate for the protection of wild natural places through wise planning and appropriate use of land. His passing is a tremendous loss to conservation and the struggle for social and environmental justice, especially around his beloved Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, in KZN.
It is with heartfelt sympathy for his nearest and dearest that we pay tribute to this man whose wisdom and foresight resulted in the creation of GET in 2010. Inasmuch as his dear friend, Dr Ian Player, spearheaded the establishment of the iMfolozi Wilderness Area, Andrew deserves to be remembered for spearheading the initial defence of HiP against the Somkhele coal mine in the early 2000s and since it began operations in 2007. Andrew constantly fretted about the expanding coal mining that is taking place around the Park by Somkhele and Zuluand Anthracite Collery. When Ibutho Coal’s proposal for the Fuleni open cast mine on the south-eastern boundary of the iMfolozi Wilderness Area became public knowledge in 2014, and the Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness campaign needed to be housed with a reputable NGO, Andrew immediately volunteered GET, together with the accounting services of Ewing and the Ewing offices as a base.
We came to depend on his support and sure guidance with the assurance that he would always be there to give wise counsel and see us through challenging times. It is difficult to recall a meeting that he did not attend.
GET’s vision, which Andrew drafted, affirms that “the Earth is the foundation of our natural world and supports all living beings. It is humanity’s duty to ensure that this world maintains its diverse nature ….. [and] to take all such steps within its capabilities as are necessary to prevent the abuse of our planet Earth.”
This vision charges the GET trustees and the members of the Subcommittee Opposing Mining with an enormous responsibility – a charge that, given our understanding of the mounting problems facing our planet, all human beings should be upholding.
Some extracts from GET trustees and members of the Subcommittee on receiving the news of Andrew’s death include:
Chris van Heerden: “I am so sorry to hear the shocking news. What a loss of a great man and a loss for conservation and particularly IMfolozi. I tried to call him on Friday but no answer so I emailed him telling him that I was thinking of him….. “
Sally Jackson: “I will be forever grateful for everything Andrew did for me while I worked at Ewings…even though it was tough at times. He gave me a platform to build on my passion for the environment…and I got to work with the most amazing and dedicated team committed to Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness. He will be missed.”
Roger Porter: “What a tragic loss. Will always remember him for his insight and support for HiP. A privilege to have known him.”
Sifiso Dladla: “Indeed Andrew will go down in the history of our struggle as one of the strong and strategic comrades who always had a plan to counter our opponents. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Andrew and his family…. Every time I spoke with Andrew I would draw more and more strength to keep on fighting. May his soul rest in eternal tranquility.”
We hope these tributes bring some comfort to the Ewing family and help lessen the pain of your loss.
We give the assurance that GET is committed to upholding Andrew’s integrity and accountability and that we will continue to pursue his excellent work as a tribute to the man and all he achieved during his challenging lifetime.
Representing the Global Environmental Trust and the Save Our iMfolozi Wilderness campaign.