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Preparing for WSF in Africa!


Hello all. I’ve not been blogging – here or at my other blog – in a little while. But I got this in the mail. African activists are preparing a winter school to prepare for the WSF in Nairobi. It sounds good and important, and I hope folks consider finding out more and possibly helping them out financially. Here’s the flyer they sent me.

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Building Solidarity across Borders
Mobilise and Organise for Social Change
Winter School 2006 – July 3 to July 8

The Khanya College Annual Winter School was launched in July 1999. The Winter School represents an important step in Khanya College’s response to the changing political and economic environment within which social movements and broader civil society organisations have to work. In many different ways Khanya College programmes seek to assist communities in the difficult task of developing their responses to globalisation and its various manifestations.

The post-1994 developments have posed new and difficult challenges for social movements and broader civil society organisations. At the same time, growing economic integration in the Southern Africa region makes the building of Southern African solidarity among the social movements an immediate challenge. The Annual Winter School provides the space for activists from various social movements and civil society organisations across the region to work together across different sectors and interests. This is an opportunity for activists from the different countries and sectors to exchange views and share experiences.

Khanya College hopes that the Annual Winter School will contribute to regional responses that continue to emphasise social solidarity, popular democracy, organisation and mobilisation. This is what the overall theme of the Annual Winter School, “Mobilise and Organise for Social Change”, represents.

The primary aims of the Winter School are:
• To provide the space for activists to critically reflect on their organising and mobilizing work in the present national and global context.
• To provide the space for activists to debate topical issues and exchange experiences with each other.
• To provide the space for the emergence and revitalisation of progressive perspectives on social change.
• To assist in developing the conceptual, organisational and public speaking skills of activists from different social movements.
• To provide the space for building of regional social movements by bringing activists from the sub-region together.
• To provide activists with the opportunity to build links and alliances among their various movements.

Focus of Winter School 2006: “Building Solidarity Across Borders”
Over the last few years the world has seen the re-emergence and growth of a (global) social justice movement. This movement has led to the recognition, by the public and by those in positions of authority, that while the world has unprecedented levels of production of material wealth, the majority of the world’s people are still mired in poverty. Increasingly, and to varying degrees, the poor and marginalized are organising and mobilising to change their lives. These organisations and movement have realised, however, that given the globalised nature of the environment within which they have to operate, they too have to build solidarity among the poor both within their respective countries and at regional and global level.

As a result non-governmental organisations and movements have formed a number of national, regional and global networks and solidarity movements as part of their struggle to change their lives and to end poverty. This global justice movement is based on the realisation and understanding that the poor do not need charity in order to climb out of their present conditions, but they need power to be able to shape their own lives. Civil society strengthening and movement building is thus one of the key ways for addressing issues of poverty eradication and marginalisation. However, civil society strengthening and movement building is not only an important element of democracy and democratisation; it is also a guarantee of the depth and effectiveness of democracy in our societies. While cooperation with those in authority and power is needed and is necessary, the global justice movement understands the centrality of self-organisation, self-initiative and self-empowerment by the world’s poor.

One of the most high-profiled movements of this kind has been the World Social Forum. In 2007 the WSF will be hosted in Africa (Nairobi) for the first time in its history. This event gives African civil society organisations and social movements an opportunity to take stock of the process of solidarity and movement building on the continent and in its various regions. The Nairobi WSF also provides African civil society with the opportunity to exchange ideas on new ways of building solidarity and of strengthening civil society in Africa.

The Winter School 2006 will provide a platform for stocktaking and exchange of ideas on solidarity and movement building on the African continent. In this way Winter School 2006 will act as one of the preparatory events and platforms for the effective participation of African civil society and social movements at the Nairobi WSF event in 2007.

Some of the key issues that will be debated at the School are:
? Evaluating of the state of civil society in the Southern Africa sub-region and in Africa as a whole, in particular, the African networks on trade, debt, environment, etc.
? An examination of earlier attempts at solidarity and movement building initiatives in Africa and the sub-region, eg the anti-apartheid struggles, the pan-African movement of the early1960s, and so on.
? Looking at the context of civil society and movement building in Africa over the last 10 years or so, and the obstacles to this process.
? The strength of the women’s movement today in Africa, and an exploration of the experiences of women in solidarity movements on the continents? How have gender issues been factored into the civil society and movement building processes in Africa?
? Looking at whether NEPAD, and in particular, the programme’s African Peer Review Mechanism has been a positive lever in the process of strengthening civil society and building strong people’s movements?

The School also aims to provide a space for an exchange of views on: How existing solidarity networks can be strengthened; new ways of organising and mobilisation in order to building strong popular movements and solidarity networks; how African civil society participation in the WSF in Nairobi can be facilitated, and what kinds of regional solidarity actions are possible as practical steps to building regional civil society and solidarity?

The activities of Winter School 2004 will be:
A series of workshops on the themes of the School; an activist forum on “Building a strong civil society in Africa today”; cultural activities; a planning workshop: Towards Nairobi 2007; exhibitions and screening by various social movements and NGOs, and a range of other activities aimed at promoting exchange of views and networking; A special edition of the Khanya Journal featuring debates and discussions from the Winter School; Through using the Khanya College website and other direct means, keeping participants and their organisations informed about the WSF process for Nairobi.

The cost of the School is R3500 per participant, all-inclusive of accommodation, meals, educational materials, local transport and facilitation fees. Contact Nerisha Baldevu at Khanya College on + 27 11 832 2447, or 27 (0) 84 377 3012. Or email [email protected] Please contact Khanya if you need any assistance with Fundraising for the Winter School.

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