Published on african social forum.org, May 28, 2005.
The Social Forum process had a unique but expected beginning in Africa. It started off as a continental movement, replicating itself incrementally in different parts of the continent and thereby growing to reflect the rich cultural and political-economic mosaic that is the African political-economic reality. To be sure this has had a special influence on its evolution and relationship with the key organs of the global movement and other actors like the state, corporate and the spiritual sectors. The unique origin also influenced its relationship not only with the other global movements, feeding into the WSF, but more significantly with major national Social Forum processes and polycentric Social Forums across the globe.
The Nairobi process was the product of a series of well-structured and extensive consultations that brought on board and connected with the major actors and organs of the African social forum process. To this effect it remains and will shake down in history as an African process eventuating in Nairobi, Kenya. Nearly all the major decisions in respect to: content/methodology, venue, timing of the event, budget and structure of the forum activities were made by the respective organs of the WSF, ASF and or in close consultations with the legitimate organs of the same. In the whole, the pattern of relationships (both local and external) that evolved in the run-up to the event was largely supportive and participatory. Whereas some were patronizing and condescending, a few remained aloof and thereby leaving the process to its own unique dynamics. Good will and appreciable support came from the Italian social movements, the Brazilian collective and the Indian Social Forum. The future of the forum needs to constructively and heuristically build on this.
III: EVENT PREPARATION
The process of the World Social Forum 2007 was integral to the growth of African Social movements and the wider social movements around the world. The Vision of the event was carved out of the recognition of Africa’s role in the emancipation of the human society from the tight and painful grip of neo-liberal capitalism, its implacable will to survive the myriad forms of imperialist subjugation and oppression through militant resistance built around alternative visions of another world. The WSF2007 subsequently placed the necessary premium on the much needed continental alliance, dialogue and convergences as the basis of laying the foundation for strategies for the eventual construction of a new world owing to the integral connection of Africa’s struggles with those of other movements and peoples across the globe.
The theme: People’s Struggles, People’s Alternatives, as the mantra and reference point, therefore, defined the actions of the wider social movements intending to participate in the WSF2007 event. The Africa Social Forum at the International Council meeting held in March 2006 proffered a concept paper outlining an African Vision for the world as it engaged with the neo-liberal forces, breaking new ground in attempting to engage in convergences of building alliances through solidarity while at the same time proposing to carve out a space for controversies that would enable movements to demand putting paid to neo-liberal globalization … (full long text).