Thuli Brilliance Makama is an Attorney and the Executive Director of Yonge Nawe/ Friends of the Earth Swaziland, an environmental organisation focusing on environmental justice. As the only public interest environmental lawyer in Swaziland, Thuli has fought to ensure that local voices are heard in environmental decision-making. Since 2002, she has fought to enforce a provision of the Swaziland Environment Authority Act that requires the government to appoint an environmental NGO to the Swaziland Environment Authority management board. After many years of unsuccessful negotiations, Thuli filed a lawsuit, and prevailed, ensuring that there is an official voice for environmental justice in Swaziland.
Thuli was named one of the winners of The Goldman Prize in 2010, due to her victory in a three-year effort to open up Swaziland’s Environment Authority to public participation.
She has helped local communities file lawsuits against the kingdom’s flourishing private game parks. She is known for defending poachers and by this, could, arguably, be presented as an anti-conservationist, but that would ignore the complexities of African politics.
Despite threats and harassment, Thuli continues to fight to preserve her communities’ historic role in conserving resources for future generations.