THE WORLD Social Forum starting in Nairobi, Kenya, January 20 looks to be a major event that will have an impact on African and global affairs. As many as 100,000 are expected; there will certainly be more than 50,000.
The usual problems are expected, as they were at the previous World Social Forums in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and Mumbai, India, and the smaller-scale polycentric forums last year in Bamako, Mali; Caracas, Venezuela; and Karachi, Pakistan. Some of these are probably unavoidable—arranging places to stay, transportation, inadequate
Still, this is likely to be an event of global significance and an important component in the worldwide movement to try to create a better world; building on the Zapatista slogan, Another World is Possible.
Many of the discussions and panels—about 1,000 of them over five days—will focus on globalization—sometimes, more broadly, imperialism, or American imperialism. Others will center on corporate globalization, with a focus on more specific aspects of the globalization process.
Crucial—and more controversial—debates will focus on the nature of the Forum itself and on its future. Will it continue to be—as its critics call it—a talk shop? Or, as some insist, is it time for it to become a body that also takes decisions and engages in action?
Other burning issues that need to be discussed are U.S military actionin Africa, Africa’s increasing importance in oil wars, and the troubling
complicity of African governments in U.S. action in Africa. Another urgent topic is the AIDS pandemic that is devastating Africa—with a serious failure to act in South Africa and elsewhere in the continent.
In any case, bringing the message of “Another World is Possible” to Africa will be of significance to the continent and the world. The world will never be the same again.
* Brutus is a well know South African author and poet.