Holding the Fire: Episode 9. Finding Encouragement in Community with Shoba Liban

November 28, 2023

Many people living in so-called developed countries in the industrialized west remain relatively shielded from the impacts of the Great Unraveling. For now, inertia from the current fossil-fueled economies allows the illusion of normalcy to persist. 

Nevertheless, vast swaths of the planet have never been afforded the opportunity of this kind of illusion. And countries in Africa contain some of the most challenging places to live, due to worsening climate impacts like drought, floods, and famine. Challenges also arise from government corruption, nepotism, and collapsing economies that had never served anyone outside of those in the highest echelons of power. 

Shoba Liban, in Kenya, does not let any of these challenges deter her from serving her community.


So I say let me go back to the community and do what I believe I should be doing. So through that I think I got encouraged. And then I know I cannot reach everybody. And I used to feel bad if something is not happening the way I think is right. But over the years, I’ve also learned that I need to be focused, I need to set objectives. If I don’t succeed today, I’ll succeed tomorrow, or if I’m not able to help an individual DCR, maybe I can do it the other year. So through motivational talks, I think I’ve managed to maneuver through these challenges of life. But I admit it is not easy. And then we have–also because of this modernization in education–we have as a community or generally even Africans: we no longer want to support even our kinsmen, like everybody for himself, and God for all of us. So without even all those challenges, I said, I’ll do what I can, and If I don’t manage, I will not condemn myself as long as I’ve put effort, and I work towards what I say that I want to do.

Shoba is a Boorana woman who promotes health and education for women and children in pastoralist communities in Kenya. Her work, and how she lives her life, offer a model, to all of us, of how to continue to serve and do our work, no matter the results. 

In our conversation, Shoba talks about the importance of building community resilience, local farming, adapting to the impacts of the climate crisis, and doing what is yours to do. 

Caution for listeners: please note that Shoba discusses extreme violence against women, which can be difficult to hear.

About Shoba

Shoba Liban, a Boorana woman from Kenya, is the founder and CEO of an entirely women-run NGO that promotes health and education for women and children in pastoralist communities in Kenya.

Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq as well as The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption and (with Stan Rushworth) We Are the Middle of Forever: Indigenous Voices from Turtle Island on the Changing Earth (both from The New Press). He has won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism and the Izzy Award. He lives in Washington State in the USA.