It’s very hard to see anything through the tiny holes in the mask – that simultaneously function as my breathing holes. Around me protesters wearing miners’ helmets are assembling with banners and placards. I am clutching a plastic scythe in my right hand, while a freelance photographer pushes me around to try to get the best possible shots. Sounds confusing? If we take a step outside the Grim Reaper costume, the message is actually quite clear.
I am gathered with around 20 other protesters from four different continents outside the AGM of Anglo-American, a global mining corporation responsible for depriving thousands of people of their land and livelihood, ruining the health of workers in their mines, as well as enormous contributions to climate change. To put it bluntly, they ‘reap’ their profits of other people’s misery.
That is why I am dressed up as the Grim Reaper. I’m representing a company built on destruction and misery. A company that recently proposed to divert a major river in Colombia to feed its coal production. And a company that continuously refuses to pay compensation to the thousands of miners in South Africa suffering from silicosis.
As we stand there outside the conference building, investors in business suits start walking inside the building while trying to avoid the protest. A small group of South African trade unionists are going to join them in a bit to present the case of their colleagues. I admire their bravery. I mean, while I am outside in a costume, they are going inside with the ‘real’ Grim Reaper.
In fact, it almost seems that Anglo-American does a better job of representing evil than the Grim Reaper himself. Maybe I will go as Anglo-American next Halloween.