Dr. Brewer is attending the WSF forum in Nairobi, Kenya
as a news correspondent for BlackCommentator.com. She will be reporting
on events at the WSF exclusively for BC.
During the week of January 20 through 26, 2007, the
7th world forum in as many years is being held in Nairobi, Kenya. This
forum occurs in the midst of a U.S. attack on Somalia and an Ethiopian
military assault on the Islam Courts movement in Somalia (with
U.S. backing). Thus, in this midst of these geopolitical fires
in the Horn of Africa, tens of thousands of grassroots activists,
educations, revolutionaries, and others will gather to confront
global capital in the belly of historic European colonialism in
East Africa: Nairobi, Kenya. The 2007 forum is the first
time that a full forum will be held on the continent. In January
2006, a polycentric set of forums were held in Venezuela, Pakistan
and Bamako, Mali (which represented the continent but nothing on
the scale of the Nairobi gathering), but Nairobi is the first
full forum held in an African country.
The perennial critique of the World Social Forum is
that race is marginalized and not centered in the process. In
fact, Africa has been represented as a shadow presence in the fight
against neoliberalism and global capital in the forums. The
question this time around is whether having the event in Nairobi
will make a substantial difference in this practice and theory. Will
Africa really be centered and matter? This remains to be seen.
Wealth is highly concentrated on the continent, and
the expropriation of human and material resources continues pretty
much unabated in the era of “New Empire”. The continent
and its peoples have been hit hard by debt, privatization and the
structural adjustment policies put into place by the IMF and World
Bank, the institutions of global capital. The economic plight
of Black Africans remains harsh and structural and economic exclusion
continues. Health, girls' education, sexual slavery, control
of land and resources, among other things, remain ongoing challenges.
Thus, as the change agents from the global South and North come
together in Nairobi this week, the question will still be: What
will it mean for the continent?
The World Social forum is held at the same time the
World Economic Forum is taking place in exclusive Davos, Switzerland. The
dominant economic nations and corporations will be discussing the
global capitalist system which enriches so few in Davos, while many
of the dispossessed will gather in Nairobi. Indeed by bringing
together activists, grass roots leaders, academics, NGOs, students
and others from all over the world, the WSF space offers a time
and place to begin articulating a new vision of justice and
equality for the world’s peoples. What vision will be articulated
for the African continent? That’s a key question. Nonetheless,
people from all over the world have awakened to the unfairness of
the current global order and are mobilizing and organizing for change. They
will be gathered in Nairobi over the next days to begin the work
of engendering consciousness, vision, and one could only hope, strategy
for creating new possibilities for Africa, the African diaspora
and the global poor.
BC Editorial Board Member, Dr.
Rose Brewer, PhD, is a professor of African American/African Studies
at the University of Minnesota and a leader of the Black Radical
here to contact Dr. Brewer.