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Dakar World Social Forum 2011

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Another world is possible

Anisha Gupta

2011-03-23, Issue 522

In early February of this year, thousands of people from around the globe gathered in the historic city of Dakar, Senegal for the 2011 World Social Forum. Grassroots activists, community leaders, indigenous people, students and leftist politicians came together to celebrate the peoples' movements that are creating a new world and discuss strategies for moving forward. Particularly in light of the then-emerging social movements in Tunisia and Egypt that have now spread across North Africa and the Middle East, the World Social Forum in Dakar represented the energy, hope and determination of the African continent to challenge the neoliberal paradigm and declare that 'another world is possible'. Captured here are scenes from the opening March where President Evo Morales of Bolivia delivered a rousing opening statement to the people gathered and leaders from the African Social Forum council welcomed the marchers to Dakar. Dakar is of particular significance as one of the last African ports where slave ships stopped before crossing the Atlantic on their way to the Americas. Goree Island, with its door of no return through which millions of slaves passed during the transatlantic slave trade, is a reminder of that history. The World Social Forum is a symbol of the historic resistance to injustices that once took the form of slavery and today have many different faces.

The WSF should remain what it is…

Yash Tandon

2011-03-17, Issue 521

The World Social Forum should remain true to its founding aim of being an open space that builds alternatives to neoliberalism, writes Yash Tandon.

Migrants rights at WSF Dakar

Colin Rajah

2011-03-17, Issue 521

Attending the World Assembly of Migrants at WSF Dakar, Colin Rajah is disappointed by the emphasis on ‘individual migrants, rather than movements and organizations’, the lack of global representation among participants, and the exclusion of key issues from the assembly’s final charter.

2010 Global Year of Action: Preliminary report

2011-03-03, Issue 519

This preliminary report, which will be presented at the International Council of the World Social Forum, was prepared following the discussion of the strategy committee held at the council session in Dakar in November 2011.

WSF 2011: Revolution, responsibility and resistance

Preliminary notes on the Dakar World Social Forum

Giuseppe Caruso

2011-03-03, Issue 519

Reflecting on last month’s World Social Forum in Dakar, Giuseppe Caruso offers an initial assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of an event plagued by logistical problems on the ground but sweetened by successful revolution in Tunisia and Egypt.

Bolivia and the fight against climate change

Pablo Solon

2011-02-15, Issue 517

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Zahra Moloo interviews Pablo Solon [mp3], Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN in New York. Solon talks about Bolivia’s stance on climate change before and during the Cancun climate negotiations in December 2010. Bolivia is calling for all countries that signed the Kyoto protocol and other climate engagements to comply with their commitments. He discusses the meaning of sustainable development and suggests a framework of development that is based on humans and nature, rather than humans alone. Solon also mentions the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012 and the development of ‘green capitalism’. Before the summit, Bolivia is to hold a gathering on climate change and mother earth’s rights, to mobilise progressive forces in the fight against climate change and green capitalism.

Defending Nature’s rights at Rio+20

Pablo Solon

2011-02-15, Issue 517

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In the following audio piece [mp3], Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN in New York, explains the interest of corporations and governments in applying capitalist frameworks to nature, including environmental services, biodiversity and water. The battles for the upcoming Durban climate conference this year and Rio+20 next year are part of the same track, says Solon, and its essential for progressive forces to mobilise in preparation for the Durban conference in partnership with strong social movements like Via Campesina and the trades unions.

15 months to rescue the planet

‘Copenhagen was a tragedy, Cancun was treason’

Pat Mooney

2011-02-15, Issue 517

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In the following audio clip [mp3], Pat Mooney, executive director of civil society organisation ETC Group, says that 15 months remain for humans to get ourselves through one of the most dangerous times in history. ‘Copenhagen was a tragedy, Cancun was treason,’ says Mooney, referring to the last international climate negotiations and their effects globally. From the upcoming Durban climate conference to the Rio+20 Earth Summit, there is only a small window of time for people to take to the streets and to the negotiating rooms to set the agenda of the coming years and the fate of the planet. Rio+20, he says, will be an ‘earth grab’ rather than an ‘earth summit’, adding that it is important for activists and social movements to have a clear agenda on how to organise against the ongoing expropriation of resources and the grabbing of biomass and the stratosphere.

Western Sahara: The last colony in Africa

Radhi S. Bachir

Human Rights Commission on Western Sahara

2011-02-15, Issue 517

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In an interview with Zahra Moloo, Radhi S. Bachir talks about Western Sahara [mp3], which the delegation of Saharawis to the World Social Forum calls ‘the last colony of Africa.’ He says Western Sahara is the only territory on the continent that had not been truly decolonised and where people have not been able to exercise their right to self-determination. He talks about efforts on the part of the Moroccan delegation to prevent the Saharawis from speaking out at the Forum and about the Polisario liberation movement.

United and divided: Western Sahara at WSF

Cheikh Lehbib Mohamed, Mohammed Cherif

2011-02-15, Issue 517

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Two marches were held (17 February) by different delegations to the World Social Forum, with opposing views on Western Sahara. Zahra Moloo speaks to representatives from both sides - Cheikh Lehbib Mohamed [mp3], general secretary of UGT SARIO, the trade union of Saharawi people, and an interview with Mohammed Cherif [mp3], president of the Association Sahraouie de solidarité pour le projet d’autonomie et de développement durable (French/français).

Apartheid has ended but we’re still landless

Africa Mthombeni

Landless People's Movement (South Africa)

2011-02-15, Issue 517

Zahra Moloo interviews Africa Mthombeni [mp3] from South Africa's Landless People's Movement, which is a member of la Via Campesina, an international movement that brings together millions of peasants, indigenous people, women farmers, migrants and agricultural workers. The group was formed in 1999 by landless people in South Africa frustrated by the slow pace of land reform. Mthombeni highlights South Africa's specific land situation starting with the land act of 1913, which enclosed the majority of black people on 13 per cent of the land within Bantu reserves. 87 per cent was left to mostly white commercial farmers. Despite the end of apartheid over 20 years ago, the pace of land reform has remained very slow.

Egyptian activists talk about the state of the revolution

Samir Amin, Mamdou Habashi, Firoze Manji

2011-02-10, Issue 516

cc Periodiko
On February 4, Pambazuka News editor Firoze Manji walked in on Egyptian theorist Samir Amin and Mamdou Habashi, a well-known Egyptian activist talking politics, and joined right in. Here's the recording he made (46.11 MB).

Egypt: The movement with no leader

Mamdouh Habashi

2011-02-10, Issue 516

Zahra Moloo speaks with Mamdouh Habashi [mp3], vice-president of the World Forum for Alternatives and board member of the Arab and African Research Centre in Cairo. Habashi explains the causes behind the recent popular uprising in Egypt, the crisis of democracy that led to its creation and its potential and weaknesses as a ‘movement without a head’. Egypt, he says, does not have a real democracy, despite the presence of unions, elections and a so-called political opposition. But despite having the biggest and most powerful anti-demonstration police in the world, the government was unable to contain the people’s movement.

Will we need a second earth?

Agrarian questions in India and China

Ritu Devani et al

2011-02-10, Issue 516

Below are excerpts from a World Social Forum workshop on the agrarian question. Ritu Devani from the University of Mumbai talks about 'agrarian distress' or the agrarian crisis in India [mp3]. This year is the 20th anniversary of the country's loan from the IMF and the formal inauguration of globalization. She explains the enormous decline in the agricultural sector and the reasons for the unprecedented number of farmer suicides in the country. The second excerpt looks at China and the right to development [mp3]. According to this speaker, the most frequently repeated phrase these days is that China is 'too big'. Thirty years ago, China was 'too red'- if China is too big to develop according to the West, what about India and what about the entire third world? If China follows America's model of development, will we need a second earth?

Who benefitted from Zimbabwe's land reform?

Sam Moyo

2011-02-10, Issue 516

Zahra Moloo speaks to Sam Moyo, director of the African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AISA) [mp3]. Moyo talks about the successes and contradictions of Zimbabwe’s land redistribution strategy in the context of agrarian reform and the media’s tendency to misrepresent the issue, including continued accusations that only the elite have benefitted from the country's land redistribution programme. He says that in fact the degree of land distribution which took place benefitted a large number of people in Zimbabwe.

Capitalism deepens underdevelopment

Samir Amin

2011-02-10, Issue 516

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Renowned Egyptian economist Samir Amin talks about reinforcing cooperation between countries of the global South [mp3]. History has proved that capitalist development in countries of the South only reproduces and deepens underdevelopment. He seeks to answer the questions, why a South-South cooperation, what are its objectives and what are the difficulties and contradictions of this cooperation.

Houses for men, slums for women

Rkia Bllot

2011-02-10, Issue 516

In Morocco, women from a number of different ethnic groups experience great difficulties accessing collective land. Rkia Bllot, an activist from the Hededa group in Morocco [mp3], living in the suburbs of Kenitra, 50 kilometres from Rabat, explains to Zahra Moloo how the patriarchal system in place excludes women from accessing land. Bllot says that the while the land belongs to the Hededa ethnic group, only married men have access to land. All the women are excluded - the women live in slums while their brothers live in proper houses.

Egypt: Who will take the movement forwards?

Mamdouh Habashi

2011-02-10, Issue 516

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Mamdouh Habashi explains the recent popular uprising in Egypt[mp3] and the historical factors that led to it. He outlines the unique way in which Egyptians organised the uprising through the internet and talks about the revolutionary creation of the first association of independent labour unions. But the question remains, who is going to lead this movement toward a concrete objective in the future?

Ivory Coast: Fighting for a more just society

Interview with Maurice Fahe

Zahra Moloo

2011-02-10, Issue 516

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Zahra Moloo talks to Maurice Fahe, an independent researcher from Ivory Coast [mp3] and a member of the World Forum for Alternatives. Fahe talks about the current situation in the Ivory Coast, following explosive elections in November 2010, which led to the formation of two governments and two presidents assuming power. He says this has led to serious consequences on conditions of life in the country, including an increase in inflation and the cost of food. Fahe also explains the concept of ‘Ivorité’ in a country where much of the population is not indigenous and talks about the continued colonisation of the country as ordinary Ivorians continue to fight for a more just society.

Let Ivorians shape their own destiny

Talk by Maurice Fahe

2011-02-10, Issue 516

In the following presentation, Maurice Fahe attempts to answer the question, how do Ivorians understand what is happening in their country today? [mp3] The media and other international actors have failed to correctly analyse the situation in the country, according to Fahe. He says the country has remained a semi-colony since the government of Houphouet-Boigny, and that the form of democracy that has since prevailed has not and will not lead to the transformation of society. Now is not the time to support or follow Outtara or Gbagbo, but to let Ivorians themselves decide and shape their own destiny.

Philippines: The price of democracy

Talk by Antonio Tujan

2011-02-10, Issue 516

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In the following presentation, Antonio Tujan describes the current situation in the Philippines [mp3] and the price that people have had to pay to bring about a genuine democracy. The Philippines, he says, is the deadliest place for the media, surpassing Iraq. More than 800 extrajudicial killings have taken place in the past decade. Tujan says this demonstrates that democracy is not institutionalised – people continue to fight for justice on the streets and in the past have even managed to roll back an IMF (International Monetary Fund) prescription and to challenge a law favouring foreign mining companies at the national level, but such gains remain short-lived.

Self-reliance and the revival of Pan-Africanism

Aziz Salmone Fall

2011-02-10, Issue 516

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In an interview with Zahra Moloo [mp3], Aziz Fall, member of the Group for Research and Initiative for the Liberation of Africa, talks about the potential of cooperation between countries of the South and the revival of Pan-Africanism. He refers back to the Bamako Appeal and calls for a true, genuine integration between African countries including self-reliant development, agrarian reform, a renewal of the tri-continental approach and the need to work with radical forces from below to transform society. Fall says it is necessary to go beyond the comprador regimes that have failed in Tunisia and Egypt and to put in place a monitoring body to stop the ongoing pillage of resources across the African continent.

Bring back Bamako

2011-02-10, Issue 516

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In the following presentation, Professor Aziz Fall [mp3], member of the Group for Research and Initiative for the Liberation of Africa, talks about the combination of the concepts of ‘Pan-Africanism’ and ‘Auto-Centrage,’ i.e ‘Pan-Afri-Centrage.’ in the context of South-South solidarity. Fall says that many of the movements from Africa have been co-opted by imperialism and we now have a historical responsibility to revive the demands of the Bamako Appeal.

China, Africa and the people

Wen Tiejun

2011-02-10, Issue 516

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In an interview with Zahra Moloo, Beijing-based Professor Wen Tiejun [mp3], who teaches sustainable development and comparative studies in developing countries, talks about the role of China in reinforcing cooperation between countries of the global South. Tiejun says that there is a need for mutual communication between China and Africa so that both can benefit from business as well as helping to improve the livelihoods of people. China has already signed contracts with several state-owned companies in Africa and Tiejun says that future cooperation must be carried out by governments and people, rather than by private companies.

China and the South

Wen Tiejun

2011-02-10, Issue 516

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In the following presentation, Wen Tiejun talks about the global economy and China’s place in the context of South-South cooperation [mp3], specifically in relation to Africa. He outlines some of the major issues facing world today, including the global food problem and suggests some alternatives.

China in Africa: Colonisation or co-operation?

Abdoul Guarmo Lo

2011-02-10, Issue 516

cc Wikimedia
In the following presentation, Abdoul Guarmo Lo talks about the role of China in Africa [mp3] – is China’s involvement a new form of neocolonialism or is China new strategic partner for the continent? China’s presence has been seen by the media as an ‘invasion’ in Africa. The African continent has always been, for Western powers and for capitalism in general, the site for resource extraction or for the provision of labour. Is China continuing this trend and how does its socialist-oriented history influence its involvement in Africa?

D2D – World Social Forum Dakar 2011

Priority Africa Network

2011-02-10, Issue 516

'Despite the many challenges, the chaos, the gathering of some 70,000 (WSF estimates) in one location with constant motion, sounds, music and drumming, talk and laughter is such joy.' Follow Priority Africa Network’s experiences in Dakar on their daily blog.

Senegal: ‘Signs of Change’ Says Bolivia’s Morales as World Social Forum Opens

2011-02-07, Issue 515

Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Dakar on Sunday to mark the start of the annual World Social Forum. Activists carried colorful banners denouncing land grabs, restrictive immigration laws, agricultural subsidies in Europe an...

Senegal: Same old system can only produce new crisis

2011-02-07, Issue 515

The world is in financial crisis thanks to the reckless behaviour of bankers, say campaigners, yet ordinary people are picking up the tab. Debt activists fear the recession will provide cover for a fresh round of toxic debt to countries in the South....

Africa: From Davos to Dakar

2011-02-07, Issue 515

Days after the global elite's jamboree at the Swiss resort of Davos, a week-long carnival of the oppressed and the marginalised, and those speaking for them, has begun in the capital of this western African nation, with thousands of left-leaning acti...

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