Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day 5 - March 26, 2015

Despite the rain, and a lot of it, the march to open the World Social Forum was well attended by thousands! Watch video from the WSF which captured the energy!

Registration line the first day was quite long as you can see – but luckily, it moved fairly fast and was quite well organized; no easy matter having attended other forums that were not half as well planned!

With nearly 4,400 organizations and countless of events, formal and informal, the World Social Forum is a hub it was intended to be, bringing individuals and groups from nearly every corner of the world.

Most visible and audible were groups representing Western Sahara, Egyptian, Algerian and Palestinian – vibrant in color and energy. Watch this one-minute video of the Palestinians!

It is almost overwhelming to view the list of workshops and plenaries.  Many happening at around the same time  making decisions difficult. Outside the workshops, there’s protests, music, speakers and of course food courts of all kinds.

Events I attended included on gender, PanAfricanism, migration – from global and within Africa, race, gender, militarism, etc. Most workshops are translated – languages used include English, French, Arabic mainly, but also many others. A workshop on PanAfricanism for example was conducted in English with French and Portuguese and at times Spanish translation. It was amazing how well it went despite the multitude of ideas and people from virtually every part of the world.   See photos of speakers and participants here and kudos to Hakima Abbas who did an amazing
job in translating and speaking in three different languages.

Beyond the formal workshops and plenaries, the best thing about the WSF is running into people - friends and colleagues I don't see often enough. It is gives me a boost of energy to get a hug and reconnect with them.  

They included people like Firoze
Manji, Liepollo Pheko & Roshan Dadoo from South Africa, Mamadou Goita from Mali, Demba Dembele Musa from Senegal, Khady Shako from France/Senegal, Luam Kidane in Canada by way of Eritrea, Hakima Abbas from Egypt by way of Dakar and Stellan Vinthagen with War Resisters International!  It is a continued affirmation that our movements are - and should be - global. One struggle cannot be waged in one place without support by others.

This group of Brazilian activists were powerful in their analysis of PanAfricanism
in today's struggle. They send this message of solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement in the US!

A young brother from Ivory Coast spoke powerfully about the need to get AfricaCommand - and indeed all US military intervention out of Africa! a protest that he says is connect to and groups in France as well as in many cities throughout the continent!

As a proud member of the Black Immigration Network (BIN) it was important to connect with so many people at so many different levels and find common ground in our struggles against injustice.    

BIN has a global framework and analysis on race and immigration - we make that connection real by my presence at the World Social Forum in Tunis in 2015.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day 4 - March 25, 2015
Too exhausted to write and analyse today!  Long lines to register, then confusion about which buildings and rooms to go to............started out sunny, then cold, rain and hailstorm, has been quite a day.  But enjoy the photos!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Day 3 - March 23rd, 2015

The WSF begins tomorrow, on the 24th!

As it happens, serious rain is expected.  I don't think it will deter anyone from the march, which is sure to be as colorful with participation from global allies!   As a show of peace, the march will lead to the Bardo Museum, the site of the shootings just a few days ago!

Figured today is my one and only day to see parts of Tunis (other than my hotel room or the university) so I took part of the day to visit Medina - the historic city within a city that has the Grand Mosque.  The "Medina of Tunis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains some 700 monuments, including palaces, mosques, mausoleums, madrasas and fountains."  The streets are narrow and confusing, leading to hundreds of small shops selling a variety of items.  Walking through it is a dizzying exercise and I could not do it for long.  To get a sense of the souks (shops) and the items, plus the Grand Mosque, see photos here. 

This posting from The Guardian today is worth a read:

World Social Forum can inspire activists to unite against the global power grab.

After a couple of meetings following my trip to Media, I'm too beat to do more writing. I know a big day - indeed a long week - awaits me and will get my reset when/where I can.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday, March 21st

Arrived at 12:40pm at Tunis–Carthage International Airport following a two-day meeting in Geneva. The two cities, while less than a couple of hours by flight, might as well be decades apart in history, culture and development.

Over the coming week, I will be writing my take on what is happening in Tunis during this WSF;largely related to my area of focus - Africa & global migration, racial justice and climate change.  This of course is likely to expand into much more as I come across friends and colleagues who invite me into their spaces of organizing around gender, Pan-Africanism,  #BlackLivesMatter, labor,.............oh wait, I just got an email from my friend Bill Minter about tax justice/illicit financial flows...... and more.  Keeping it coherent and giving readers a sense of what is happening here is what I hope for, but we'll see.  Along with blogging, I'll try to share a sense of the city, issues and the WSF with the photos and videos.  Be sure to "follow" this blog if you don't want to miss anything - and send me comments/questions, if any.

Foremost in peoples' minds when hearing about Tunisia is the recent shooting at the Bardo Museum which claimed 19 innocent lives, many of them tourists.  As a country that has enjoyed relative peace following the Jasmine Revolution (which sparked the Arab Spring) in 2011, Tunisia was not expected to be on the ISIS hit list.   Many coming to the WSF wondered whether to cancel or continue as planned (myself included).  Feeling assured by messages from allies like GGJ (Grassroots Global Justice) and the need to stand in solidarity with the Tunisian people, immediate postings on FB were "I will come to Tunisia" I was convinced!  Affirmations of a resolute and united people determined and standing by the statement that "another world is possible" are not deterred or intimidated by a few gunmen!

I close today's blog by sharing this photo: walking outside my hotel surroundings, I came across this spot: AfriCafe - closed unfortunately, but certainly to be visited tomorrow!