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Pambazuka / mulonga
« on: January 14 2007 »



At the Seventh World Social Forum in Nairobi, Women’s Learning  Partnership (WLP) will present an interactive panel and dialogue with  women’s rights activists from Africa and the Middle East who will  discuss strategies to strengthen social movements, particularly the  women’s movement, in an era of crisis for civic organizing.


http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=294493&area=/insight/ insight__africa/

As the countdown to the 2007 World Social Forum gains momentum, anti- globalisation activists from around the world are no doubt rolling up  their sleeves for spirited debates on the flaws in the current  economic order. In Cameroon, however, such debates are already under  way.



The 7th World Social Forum (WSF) will be held from 20 until 25  January 2007 at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani, Nairobi  and is expected to host up to 150,000 delegates from all over the  world. Over 1,000 activities will take place in the 106 spaces  provided at the venue.



More than 100,000 delegates are expected to attend the World Social  Forum conference to be held in Nairobi in a fortnight. Organisers  said yesterday (9January 2007) the preparations for the conference  were almost complete.

« Reply #1 on: January 28 2007 »

World Social Forum ends with calls for social equity

IRINnews - 2007-01-26

NAIROBI: The World Social Forum (WSF) ended in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital on Thursday, with participants hailing the event as an opportunity for people from around the world to exchange ideas on global social problems often overlooked by capitalist interests they said dominated the world.

Participants at the World Social Forum that ended in Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday hailed the event as an opportunity for people from around the world to exchange ideas on global social problems often overlooked by capitalist interests

"The forum provided an opportunity for thousands of citizens and organisations to be together," said Farouk ben Abdallah, a delegate from Tunisia. "It gave them the opportunity to reinforce relationships, to exchange views on what they are doing in the world, to design a new agenda, a new programme together for the future."

Joseph ole Mpaera, a Maasai pastoralist from Kenya, said he was able to exchange views with representatives of livestock-keeping communities from countries such as Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.

"I realised that we experience common problems. Our governments lack development policy for pastoralists. Our problems include lack of water and proper marketing opportunities for products like meat and hides and skins," said Mpaera. Members of the Maasai community who attended the forum would be raising awareness in their villages with a view to petitioning the government on issues that affect them, he said.

Wahu Kaara, a Kenyan social activist, urged political and business leaders attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, not to devise policies that perpetuated global social inequality.

"We are watching them and this time around they will not get away with it because we are saying they should cancel debt or we repudiate them. We refuse unjust trade. We are not going to take aid with conditionality. We are saying the world belongs to all of us. We want peace and we are in Nairobi building peace when they are in Davos building circumstances that threaten peace," she said.

The WSF is intended to counter the WEF annual meeting, when leaders from business, politics, academia, the media and civil society discuss how to improve the world economy. Since the poor majority have virtually no voice at Davos, according to the WSF, their concerns are not taken into consideration when global economic and social policies are formulated.

Nobel peace laureate Wangari Maathai offered encouragement to those who feel powerless. "When you face issues at the grassroots you can get discouraged. But at a forum like this there is encouragement when one meets others from other parts of the world," she said.

Italy's deputy foreign minister Patrizia Sentinelli told the WSF closing ceremony: "We should take advantage of the forum to say to governments that they must be serious in tackling mankind's problems of water, food and land."

The American film star and human rights activist Danny Glover called for the strengthening of local institutions and involving the youth in decision-making.

Source: http://www.irinnews.org

« Reply #2 on: January 28 2007 »


Firoze Manji

The World Social Forum, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya for the  first time in Africa, was supposed to be a forum for the voices of  the grassroots. But Firoze Manji writes that, despite the diversity  of voices at the event, not everyone was equally represented.

As one would expect, WSF was highly heterogeneous. There was a lot  going on. At one level no one can deny the diversity of people from  all parts of the world. WSF seemingly reflected the heterogeneity of  civil society internationally: there were initiatives from grassroots  women’s organisations, from feminists, social movements, small and  large African organisations, international (or is it  ‘multinational’?) organisations, donors and funders, grantees,  activists, hustlers and the hassled. There were vociferous anti- capitalists and anti-(capitalist) globalisation meetings and  discussions, as one would expect of an event that evolved out of the  need to assert an alternative to imperialist globalisations of the  Davos kind. And there were those whose politics could reasonably be  viewed as part of the civil society infrastructure of modern-day  imperial expansion.

But to describe only the diversity would be to miss the real, and  perhaps more disturbing, picture. The problem was that not everyone  was equally represented. Not everyone had equal voices. This event  had all the features of a trade fair – those with greater wealth had  more events in the calendar, larger (and more comfortable) spaces,  more propaganda – and therefore a larger voice. Thus the usual gaggle  of quasi donor/International NGOs claimed a greater presence than  national organisations – not because what they had to say was more  important or more relevant to the theme of the WSF, but because,  essentially, they had greater budgets at their command. Thus the WSF  was not immune from the laws of (neoliberal) market forces. There was  no levelling of the playing field. This was more a World NGO Forum  than an anti-capitalist mobilisation, lightly peppered with social  activists and grassroots movements.

And the sense of the predominance of neoliberalism was given further  weight by the ubiquity of the CelTel Logo – the Kuwaiti owned  telecommunications company that had exclusive rights at the WSF; a  virtual monopoly provided to a hotel that provided food at  extortionate prices that most Kenyans, if they were allowed in, could  hardly afford. And rumours were rife that the business of catering  involved people in high places winning exclusive contracts. Hawkers,  on whom most of Nariobians depend for providing everything from phone  cards to food and refreshment were for a while excluded physically  (as well as financially) from entering the China-built Moi Sports  Stadium in Kasarani, the venue for the WSF. And it was only when  frustrated activists took direct action to occupy the offices of the  organisers that a more liberal policy for entry was implemented.

This was the first full WSF held in Africa (Mali was host to one of  the polycentric WSF’s last year). But the forum was marked by the  under-representation of social activists from Africa – or indeed from  the global south. Inevitably this reflected on how debates and  discussions were framed. Pambazuka News staff had hoped that this  space would be the basis for forging a broader radical pan- Africanism. But that was, sadly, not to be. The white North, with it  hegemonic parochialism, was over-represented. Social movements from  the South were conspicuous by their numerically small presence at the  forum.

Probably the most consistently heavily attended forum throughout the  week was that organised by the Human Dignity and Human Rights Network  which had the largest tent, and held meeting after meeting throughout  most of the week, with a caste of well known speakers. But like most  of the events at WSF, the set-up of the meetings was of a traditional  platform of speakers with the audience being talked at rather than  being engaged in discussion. While we heard the experience of both  survivors of human rights abuses and human rights defenders, there  was little political analysis.

And that probably catches the sense of most, thankfully not all, of  the WSF events: there was lots of talking and sloganeering. There was  much discussion about policies and alternatives to existing policies.  But one couldn’t help feel the absence of politics. It’s as if many  believe that nice policies (or human rights legislations) get made by  nice people. But the reality is that what ends up as policy is the  outcome of struggles in the political domain – fundamentally between  the haves and the have-nots. But in a week in which the voices of the  have-nots were under-represented, I guess we should not be surprised  by the absence of politics.

I think everyone was disappointed by the surprisingly low turn-out:  estimates of 30,000 to 50,000 people attended, compared with an  expected crowd of 150,000. What made so many keep away in droves?  Despite asking many this question, I have found no satisfactory  reasons offered.

* Firoze Manji is director of Fahamu and editor of Pambazuka News

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at  www.pambazuka.org
« Reply #3 on: January 28 2007 »


Roseleen Nzioka

Media practitioners in Africa have been challenged to help African  governments in formulating a regulatory environment that is conducive  to the establishment of indigenous media.

Speaking at a media session 22 January at the ongoing World Social  Forum at Kasarani in Nairobi, the Director of Highway Africa News  Agency (HANA), Chris Kabwato said there was urgent need to engage  African governments in media best practices. This kind of dialogue  with the government would enable indigenous African practitioners to  invest in producing culturally relevant content and counter the highly

Skewed Euro-centric content that Africans are currently consuming. Mr  Kabwato said that Africa had for years been infiltrated by foreign  media and this had reduced Africans to almost pure consumers of media  and not producers. Time had come he said, for Africans to establish  home-grown media as alternatives to the foreign media which dominate  broadcast and print media in Africa. Mr Kabwato warned that some of  the alternative media in Africa relied heavily on donor funding for  their operations. This he said was dangerous because it meant that  the media were not self-sustainable.

Other issues he outlined as crucial for African government’s to  address in order to create indigenous African media with culturally  relevant content were : access of media ; citizenship versus  consumerism ; the north/south relationship ; hegemony ; and diversity  and pluralism. Speaking at the same forum, the Africa director of  Inter Press Service news agency, Ms Farai Samhungu revealed that  although IPS was formed with the ideal of the South to generate home-  grown news, the agency was still donor dependent 43 years later. Ms  Samhungu said although IPS publishes in about 20 languages, the cost  of translations was exorbitant.

“For example it may cost us three times more to produce a French  translation of a news report from English”, said Ms Samhungu  emphasizing the expenses involved in producing multi-lingual content.  She however said there is room for the co-existence of information as  a commodity as well as for the common good.

A communication activist, Jason Nadi, spoke about the liberalization  of media content production. Mr Nadi said that the modern information  communication technologies such as the Internet, had enabled  individuals to produce their own news content culminating in a  information society. In common parlance an information society is one  where information is treated as a form of currency at different  platforms and fora. Mr Nadi said this individually produced media is  an alternative to the traditional mass media. Mr Nadi said that in  Europe, media conglomerates in individual countries have distorted  media freedom as giant companies had the financial power to control  content and the manner of distribution. He said information through  mass media is becoming less reliable because it is treated as  merchandise for consumers not audiences.

“To counter this we need communities to be able to create and  exchange their own content and use different platforms”, said Nadi  adding that modern technology in the media was operating amid  medieval media governance structures. Jon Barnes from the PANOS  London office said that his organisation had identified weaknesses  and challenges within the African media and began redressing them.  For example, he said, PANOS was engaged in building African  journalists capacity to report effectively on trade issues especially  at international level where there is a dearth of African generated  content.

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at  www.pambazuka.org
« Reply #4 on: January 29 2007 »

Turn everything off!! - on February 1st between 7:45 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Urgent: global action against climate change

On February 1st  you can participate in the worldwide greatest action against climate change!!!

Various environmental organizations are asking the peoples of this planet to hold 5 minutes of silence:

Everyone should turn off all lights, electricity etc. between 7:45 until 8 p.m. Five minutes to bring attention to other inhabitants, the media and politicians about the daily waste of energy.

An act which takes only 5 minutes, which costs nothing, but shows the governments that climate change should be on the top agenda of world politics.

Why this date?

On February 1st the United Nations is publicizing the newest results and knowledge base on climate change.

SO…….TURN OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


« Reply #5 on: January 29 2007 »


Microsoft Corporation's products have been locked out of the on-going World Social Forum (WSF) in Nairobi Kenya. With over 300 computers provided for participants and the press, organizers of the WSF have preferred to provide open source software products and blocked all Microsoft related products for the forum's usage and its related activities.

Participants attending WSF, which for the first time is entirely taking place in an African country say that this was a gesture done as a way of promoting the free social movement at the same time also as a way of fighting Microsoft's 'imperialistic tendencies.'

Activists at the forum also believe that since Microsoft is a corporate brand from the United States of America, a country they believe has intentions of maintaining the status quo of a unipolar world in which it is above international law and the UN, the brand should be locked out.

Anoop Sukumaran of the Focus on the Global South, said that, since one has to pay licenses for any kind of Microsoft 's software, the multinational computer technology corporation is in a way controlling the flow of global information instead of releasing it free without any charge.

Microsoft has no thinking. And the unfortunate thing is that the whole third world including almost all of Africa is being forced to use Microsoft products, through the pretext of these trade treaties like the WIPO and the WTO? Sukumaran says.

The open source movement is providing Linux, a robust free software. Everybody owns it and it can be shared. And this is what WSF is all about - a free society, a movement fighting for ownership of free resources? he adds.

With an annual revenue of over US$44.28 billion as of July 2006, Microsoft develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of software products for computing devices.

Participants from the International South Group Network (ISGN) who are advocating for open source software at the WSF are set to give out over 100 free CDs of the kubuntu brand of the open source software here at the forum as a way of fighting Microsoft.

Open source is a conceivable tool of communication, a weapon to fight for ones own right. Users of open source software are (generally) able to view the source code, alter and re-distribute the software.

Peter Kuthan / AZFA
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 819

« Reply #6 on: February 14 2007 »


by Patrick Bond / Pambazuka News 289

Patrick Bond assesses the aftermath of the World Social Forum, held  from January 20-25 in Nairobi. There were some triumphs for social  justice, but also some worrying trends that emerged from the forum.  Bond examines what it means for the future of the WSF concept.

A mixed message - combining celebration and autocritique - is in  order, in the wake of the Nairobi World Social Forum. From January  20-25, the 60,000 registered participants heard the triumph of  radical rhetoric and yet, too, witnessed persistent defeats for  social justice causes - especially within the WSF's own processes.

* Kenya Social Forum coordinator Onyango Oloo listed grievances that  local activists put high atop the agenda: 'colonial era land edicts  and policies which dispossessed their communities; the impact of  mining and extraction activities on the environment and human  livelihoods; discriminatory policies by successive governments that  have guaranteed the stubborn survival of pre-colonial conditions of  poverty and underdevelopment among many pastoralist and minority  communities; the arrogant disregard for the concerns raised by  Samburu women raped over the years by British soldiers dispatched on  military exercises in those Kenyan communities; … and tensions  persisting with neo-colonial-era settler farmers and indigenous  Kenyan comprador businessmen in hiving off thousands of hectares of  land while the pastoralists and minority communities are targets of  state terror, evictions and denunciations.'

* WSF organiser Wahu Kaara: 'We are watching [global elites] and this  time around they will not get away with it because we are saying they  should cancel debts or we repudiate them. We refuse unjust trade. We  are not going to take aid with conditionality. We in Africa refuse to  be the continent identified as poor. We have hope and determination  and everything to offer to the prosperity of the human race.'

* Firoze Manji, the Kenyan director of the Pambazuka  (www.pambazuka.org) Africa news/analysis portal: 'This event had all  the features of a trade fair - those with greater wealth had more  events in the calendar, larger (and more comfortable) spaces, more  propaganda - and therefore a larger voice. Thus the usual gaggle of  quasi-donor and international NGOs claimed a greater presence than  national organisations - not because what they had to say was more  important or more relevant to the theme of the WSF, but because,  essentially, they had greater budgets at their command.'

* Nairobi-based commentator Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem (also writing in  Pambazuka): 'The WSFs show up Africa's weaknesses whether they are  held outside or inside Africa. One of the critical areas is our level  of participation and preparedness. A majority of the African  participants - even many from Kenya itself - were brought by foreign  paymasters or organisations funded by outsiders. Often they become  prisoners of their sponsors. They must attend events organized or  supported by their sponsors who need to put their "partners" on  display, and the "partners" in turn need to show their loyalty to  their masters.'

* New Internationalist editor Adam Ma'anit: 'The sight of Oxfam- branded 4x4s cruising around flauntingly, the many well-resourced  charity and church groups decking out their stalls (and even their  own office spaces) with glossies and branded goodies, all reinforce  the suspicion that perhaps the WSF has become too institutionalized.  Perhaps more worryingly has been the corporate sponsorship of the  WSF. The Forum organizers proudly announced their partnership with  Kenya Airways. The same company that has for years allegedly denied  the right to assembly of its workers organized under the Aviation and  Allied Workers Union.'

* Blogger Sokari Ekine ('Black Looks') on the final WSF event:  'Kasha, a Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender and Intersex activist from  Sexual Minorities Uganda, went up to the stage and asked to make a  statement. She was asked for a copy of what she would be speaking  about and gave them her piece. The organisers threw her piece on the  floor and refused to allow her to speak. Kasha stood her ground  saying she, like everyone else, had a right to speak here at the WSF.  Despite the harassment by the MC and organisers, Kasha took the mic  and spoke. She spoke about being a lesbian, about being a homosexual.  She refuted the myth that homosexuality was un-African. She spoke  about the punishment and criminalisation of homosexuals in Kenya, in  Uganda, and in Nigeria. She said homosexuals in Africa were here to  stay. Homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else and should be  accepted and finally that even in Africa Another World is Possible  for Homosexuals. Kasha was booed and the crowd shouted obscenities at  her waving their hands screaming: "No! No! No!" But she persisted and  said what needed to be said.'

These sobering observations were reflected in a statement by the  Social Movements Assembly at a January 24 rally of more than 2000:  'We denounce tendencies towards commercialisation, privatisation and  militarisation of the WSF space. Hundreds of our sisters and brothers  who welcomed us to Nairobi have been excluded because of high costs  of participation. We are also deeply concerned about the presence of  organisations working against the rights of women, marginalised  people, and against sexual rights and diversity, in contradiction to  the WSF Charter of Principles.' (http://kenya.indymedia.org/news/ 2007/01/531.php)

Conflicts included arrests of a dozen low-income people who wanted to  get into the event; protests to forcibly open the gates; and the  destruction of the notoriously repressive Kenyan interior minister's  makeshift restaurant which had monopolized key space within the  Kasarani stadium's grounds.

Soweto activist Trevor Ngwane was a protest leader, but after the  first successful break-in by poor Kenyans, reported stiff resistance:  'The next day we again planned to storm the gates but found police  and army reinforcements at the gates. Those officers carried very big  guns. Comrades decided to block the main road until the people were  allowed in for free. This action took about half an hour and then the  gates were opened. The crowd than marched to the Organising  Committee's offices to demand a change of policy on the question of  entrance. Another demand was added: free water inside the WSF  precinct and cheaper food.'

Although that demand was not met, Oloo gracefully confessed the  'shame' of progressive Kenyans during the Social Movements Assembly  rally. WSF logistical shortcomings reflected the Kenyan Left's lost  struggles within the host committee, he said. The interior minister  ('the crusher') snuck in at the last second, and the Kenya Airports  Authority systematically diverted incoming visitors to hotels, away  from home stays (2000 of which were arranged - only 18 actually  materialized thanks to diversions).

Setting these flaws aside, consider a deeper political tension. For  Oloo, 'These social movements, including dozens in Kenya, want to see  the WSF being transformed into a space for organizing and mobilizing  against the nefarious forces of international finance capital,  neoliberalism and all its local neo-colonial and comprador  collaborators.'

Can and should the 'openspace' concept be upgraded into something  more coherent, either for mobilizing around special events (for  instance, the June 2-8 summit of the G8 in Rostock, Germany) or  establishing a bigger, universalist left-internationalist political  project?

In South Africa, the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) has hosted  several debates on this question, with at least four varying points  of view emerging. Last July, for example, the great political  economist Samir Amin presented the 'Bamako Appeal', a January 2006  manifesto which originated at the prior WSF polycentric event, and  which combined, as Amin put it, the traditions of socialism, anti- racism/colonialism, and (national) development (http:// www.forumtiersmonde.net/fren/forums/fsm/fsm_bamako/appel_bamako_en.htm).

In support was the leader of the Organisation of African Trade Union  Unity, Hassan Sunmonu (also a WSF International Council member).  Complaining that 'billions of ideas have been generated since 2001 up  till the last Forum', Sunmonu found 'a lot of merit in that Bamako  Appeal that we can use to transform the lives of ourselves, our  organizations and our peoples.'

But reacting strongly against the Bamako Appeal, CCS student (and  Johannesburg anti-privatization activist) Prishani Naidoo and three  comrades criticized its 'last century' tone and content, which  mirrored 'the mutation of the WSF from an arena of encounter for  local social movements into an organized network of experts,  academics and NGO practitioners.'

For Naidoo, 'It reassures us that documents like the Bamako Appeal  will eventually prove totally irrelevant and inessential to struggles  of communities in South Africa as elsewhere. Indeed, the WSF elite's  cold institutional and technicist soup, occasionally warmed up by  some hints of tired poeticism, can provide little nourishment for  local subjectivities whose daily responses to neoliberalism face more  urgent needs to turn everyday survival into sustained confrontations  with an increasingly repressive state.'

In contrast, Nauvoo and the others, praise the 'powerful undercurrent  of informality in the West’s proceedings [which] reveals the  persistence of horizontal communication between movements, which is  not based on mystical views of the revolutionary subject, or in the  official discourse of the leaders, but in the life strategies of  their participants.'

A third position on WSF politics is the classical socialist, party- building approach favoured by Ngwee and other revolutionary  organizers. Ngwee fretted, on the one hand, about reformist projects  that 'make us blind to recognize the struggles of ordinary people.'  On the other hand, though, 'I think militancy alone at the local  level and community level will not in itself answer questions of  class and questions of power.' For that a self-conscious socialist  cadre is needed, and the WSF is a critical site to transcend local  political upsurges.

A fourth position, which I personally support, seeks the 21st  century's anti-capitalist 'manifesto' in the existing social, labour  and environmental movements that are already engaged in excellent  transnational social justice struggle. The WSF's greatest potential -  so far unrealized - is the possibility of linking dozens of radical  movements in various sectors.

Instead, at each WSF the activists seem to disappear into their own  workshops: silos with few or no interconnections. Before a Bamako  Appeal or any other manifesto is parachuted into the WSF, we owe it  to those activists to compile their existing grievances, analyses,  strategies and tactics. Sometimes these are simple demands, but often  they are also articulated as sectoral manifestos, like the very  strong African Water Network of anti-privatisation militants from 40  countries formed in Nairobi (http://www.ipsterraviva.net/tv/nairobi/ en/viewstory.asp?idnews=838).

These four positions are reflected in a new book released at the  Nairobi WSF by the New Delhi-based Institute for Critical Action:  Centre in Movement (CACIM) and CCS. The book, free to download at  http://www.nu.ac.za/ccs/files/CACIM%20CCS%20WSF%20Politics.pdf,  contains some older attempts at left internationalism, such as the  Communist Manifesto (1848) and the Bandung Communiqué of the Asian- African Conference (1955), as well as the 'Call of Social Movements'  at the second and third Porto Alegre WSF, the 2005 Porto Alegre  Manifesto by the male-heavy Group of Nineteen, and the Bamako Appeal  with sixteen critical replies.

There are also selections on global political party formations by  Amin, analysis of the global labour movement by Peter Waterman, the  Women's Global Charter for Humanity, and some old and newer Zapatista  declarations. Jai Sen and Madhuresh Kumar of CACIM have worked hard  to pull these ideas into 500 pages.

Lest too much energy is paid to these political scuffles at the  expense of ongoing struggle, we might give the last word to Ngwane,  who reported on his Nairobi debate with WSF founder Chico Whitaker at  a CACIM/CCS workshop: 'Ordinary working class and poor people need  and create and have a movement of resistance and struggle. They also  need and create and have spaces for that movement to breathe and  develop. The real question is what place will the WSF have in that  reality. What space will there be for ordinary working class and poor  people? Who will shape and drive and control the movement? Will it be  a movement of NGO's and individual luminaries creating space for  themselves to speak of their concern for the poor? Will it be  undermined by collaboration with capitalist forces? I think what some  of us saw happening in Nairobi posed some of these questions sharply  and challenged some of the answers coming from many (but not all) of  the prominent NGO's and luminaries in the WSF.'

* Patrick Bond directs the Centre for Civil Society: http:// www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs This article first appeared in ZNet Daily  Commentaries: http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/ 2007-02/01bond.cfm and is reproduced here with the permission of the  author.

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at  www.pambazuka.org
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