African youth meet in Nairobi to strategise

By SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

X http://www.timesnews.co.ke/02nov06/nwsstory/opinion2.html (external link)

YOUNG people drawn from 25 African countries converge in Nairobi this week for the Pan African Youth Forum, an event that will provide them with an opportunity to reflect on a broad range of youth issues, struggles and proposals for change.

The forum, which started yesterday and runs through Saturday , consists of three components - an inter-generational exchange with select leaders of African civil society, the main conference and an international cultural event on Saturday.

The main conference will among other things discuss the impact of neo-liberal economic policies on youth, African development, access to quality services such as housing, water, electricity, education and health care.

African youth will use the forum as a special platform to address the questions of poverty, injustice and inequalities against by reflecting on their situation and attempt to create a common position on their struggles for a more democratic and equitable world. They will also focus on globalization issues as the impact on youth empowerment and poverty eradication.

The four-day Pan African Youth Forum begins with a unique inter-generational exchange session addressing topics ranging from conflict, security, peace and the destruction of the ecosystem, to trade, human rights, economics, social policies and political rights.

This will be a time for the youth to voice their concerns not just as the future generation that is so often touted to be the light or way forward for Africa.

The forum is being supported by the United Nations Millennium Campaign, ActionAid? International, Oxfam GB, Africa Social Forum and the Heinrich Boel Foundation (HBF).

Apart from engaging in such serious dialogue, the youth will also raise their voice through cultural expressions in a spectacular musical concert featuring some of the finest musicians from East Africa. More than 2,000 people are expected to turn up for the day time concert on Saturday 4th November 2006 at the Utalii College grounds.

Among the big names lined up for the entertainment extravaganza are sensational Tanzanian hip hop artiste Professor Jay and her compatriot, melodious singer Rehema Chalamila, popularly known as Ray C.

They will be joined on stage by Uganda’s Juliana and Kenya’s own Eric Wainaina and his band, award-winning singer Nameless and former Sudanese child-soldier turned music ambassador, Lam.

The other Kenyan artistes who will perform at the musical gala include poet Githuku and his group Kikwetu, as well as popular local musicians Goreala, Nyota Ndogo, Hope Raisers, Ukoo Fulani Mau Mau (Wenyeji), Wyre and Atemi. “Toothbrush” and “Mercy” will be the MCs for the event which kicks off at 10.00am. Homeboyz Entertainment will manage the event.

The concert will be unique in its concept with the participants expressing the theme embracing the concepts of human rights, equality, unity, struggles, social justice, freedom, Pan Africanism and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

While providing top-flight entertainment, performers at the concert will champion a message of solidarity among the youth in their struggles against injustice and inequality.

Youth Affairs Minister Mohammed Kuti is expected as the guest of honour at the Pan African Youth Forum opening ceremony on 2nd November, while Sports, Gender, Culture and Social Services Minister Maina Kamanda has been invited to the concert. This Pan African Forum is a prelude to the activities of the World Social Forum (WSF) which will take place for the first time in Africa in Nairobi from January 20th to 25th 2007.

This week’s Pan Africa Youth Forum with the clarion call “Youth Struggles, Youth Alternatives: Another World is Possible” and the cultural event/concert will showcase the uniqueness of Africa as a host for the WSF in form, content and presentation.

A highlight of the Forum will be the moderated inter-generational exchange session dubbed “Dialogue Night” at the Silver Springs Hotel. Among the panelists invited for the opening evening on November 1 from 6pm are veteran freedom fighter Achieng’Oneko?, Reverend Timothy Njoya, Prof Miriam Were, renowned African novelist and intellectual Okello Oculi and activists Wahu Kaara and Irungu Houghton.

The World Social Forum is an annual meeting held by members of social movements worldwide to coordinate world campaigns, share and refine organising strategies, and inform each other about other movements from the world and their issues.

During the Pan African Youth Forum, the youth will portray their enlightenment, not through mere sloganeering about their socio-economic struggles and complaints, but will also seek to provide alternatives and solutions on a wide range of global issues including trade, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and social struggles.

The WSF in Nairobi will be held around the same time as the World Economic Forum to take place in Davos, Switzerland from 24th to 28th January 2007. ……../2

WSF organizers have scheduled the event around this time in an effort to provide an issue-oriented alternative platform.

It is a meeting for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo-liberalism and domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism.

The first WSF meeting of World Social Forum (WSF) was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2001. This was after a long deliberation by a group of people who were not pleased by the challenges of economic and political agenda fronted by World Economic Forum and its programmes of neo-liberalism, privatisation, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The World Social Forum is a unique opportunity to participate in an international gathering designed to challenge a world economic model that has generated under-development, civil war, debt and global apartheid.

It perceives the African continent as being mostly affected by injustices of capitalism. As a movement, WSF puts people before profits unlike the World Economic Forum. It seeks to challenge corporate globalisation and construct a fair world with more solidarity and respect for people sovereignty.

The WSF will address topics such as war, militarisation, security and peace, globalised neo-liberalism, aggression against peasantry, the alliance between patriarchal and the neo-liberal system, culture, media and communication, the international order and the role of the United Nations, international trade and debt.

The Pan African Youth Forum is a prelude of the activities at World Social Forum (WSF) and among the highlights of its agenda are youth and health, HIV/Aids, malaria, peace and conflict, culture and social transformation, building youth leadership, the debt burden and employment.

The Nairobi meeting is a challenge to citizens of the world to express themselves by raising their voice and providing their input to bridge the gap between the capitalist and the oppressed world. A voice for a better future and better living by making another world possible.

The World Social Forum is an annual meeting held by members of the various social movements worldwide to coordinate world campaigns, share and refine organizing strategies, and inform each other about movements from around the world and their issues.

The forum is an opportunity for leaders from all walks of life, business, government, media, academia, arts and civil society to focus on growth, sustainability, addressing global faults, defining leadership mandates and the power of network.

It is an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo-liberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to building a planetary society directed towards fruitful relationships among mankind and between it and the earth.

Rallying around the clarion call of Another World Is Possible, the World Social Forum has placed social justice, international solidarity, gender equality, peace and defence of the environment on the agenda of the world’s peoples.

From Porto Alegre to Mumbai to Bamako to Caracas, Karachi and now Nairobi, the forces and the contingents of the World Social Forum have collectively expanded the democratic spaces of those seeking concrete, sustainable and progressive alternatives to imperialist globalization.

The alternatives proposed at the World Social Forum stand in opposition to a process of globalisation commanded by the large multinational corporations and by the governments and international institutions at the service of those corporations’ interests, with the complicity of national governments. They are designed to ensure that globalisation in solidarity will prevail as a new stage in world history.

This will respect universal human rights and those of all citizens - men and women - of all nations and the environment and will rest on democratic international systems and institutions at the service of social justice, equality and the sovereignty of peoples.

The Pan African Youth Forum is a prelude to the youth activities at WSF 2007. As they set out to secure and retain their space at the World Social Forum, the African youth are coming together before WSF 2007, to discuss and agree on common positions on issues that will serve their interests now and in the future.