For several years, the Papuan chef has traveled the world to defend the environment, this is his eighteenth trip to France. He completes his week in Nîmes at the Dhuoda institute.
Hands go up in waves this Friday morning in the lecture hall of Dhuoda High School in Nîmes.
On wooden chairs, with their eyes fixed on the stage, a hundred teenagers do not take their eyes off Mundiya Kepanga, the ambassador and voice of the Papuan forest, who is showered with questions after the screening of the film tree brothers.
The deep-eyed chef traveled more than 14,000 kilometers before arriving in Nîmes from Papua New Guinea, in northern Australia.
After having traveled around the world for 18 years, this year he returns to tour the schools and institutes of Nîmes from this Thursday for a great initiative of the Camus high school. And always the same declared objective: to make young people aware of the environment and the importance of trees.
In this morning’s audience, in the first part of the university students from Romain-Rolland, Capouchiné or even Saint-Gilles, invited by the school to allow them “Meeting this fascinating chef while also discovering his future high school for some”, explains François Martinez, director of the Nîmes establishment. Among the teenagers, Siham, 15, in 3rd grade at the Capouchiné school, is captivated.
So much so that the young woman convincingly maintains her place in the line that leads to the cacique and the possibility of a selfie with him.
“It was great. This movie is so good. And meeting this man in real life is a real opportunity. Because he also sends us real messages. Starting with the most important thing: we must protect the trees. Without them we are nothing.” And second, that one does not necessarily need studies to succeed in life, besides, he has not done any and look where he is!
With a bewitching calm and enviable serenity, Mundiya Kepanga takes a break with the youngsters and tirelessly answers their questions, thanks to translation by the film’s co-director, Marc Dozier. And if the alarm bells about the climate and ecology in general sound from all sides and without interruption, the Papuan sage looks forward to tomorrow with optimism.
“When we made this film five years ago, my country had 300 logging companies. Since then, we have changed the prime minister, and the new one, from my tribe, is very concerned about the importance of preserving the forest. Today there are only 50 logging operations left! And when I come to France and meet these young people, I tell myself that there is a lot of hope. They are very curious, relevant and sensitive. And above all, capable of launching projects that are important to them by themselves. I consider that children are like seeds, if you water them they develop and become solid. I hope they are the ambassadors of tomorrow.”.
“We will disappear with the trees”
The film Tree Brothers is inspired by a prophecy from the ancestors of the Papuan leader Mundiya Kepanga: “When all the trees are gone, the men will be gone. I thought this prophecy would not be heard by Westerners, but this message concerns us all.”
Told by Papuan chief Mundiya Kepanga, the documentary Tree Brothers directed by Marc Dozier and Luc Marescot reveals the extent of deforestation. Offering the viewer the possibility of observing the forest through the eyes of one of his children.
Like a traditional storyteller, the Papuan chief offers a new way of looking at our planet: our forest is a universal heritage that must be safeguarded. Committed and fascinated with this cause, Mundiya Kepanga becomes the ambassador of the forest and the voice of the indigenous peoples.