Inclusion

January 23, 2007 at 11:18 pm 1 comment

There have been peaceful demonstrations of local Kenyans, with support from registered forum-goers, demanding free entrance, free water and food, in order to be able to participate equally in the forum.

The WSF takes place at Kasarani, near one of Kenya’s many slums. In fact, the organisers have worked to involve local slum dwellers in the forum by organising visits to, and events in, the slums. Slum dwellers have also been invited to take part in activities and one event I missed was the Slum Magic Circus.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that a lot of money has been spent on the forum and some of the visitors from abroad are staying in five star hotels. A local company was invited to provide catering, which was way out of the pocket of local people – and also too expensive for visitors from other southern countries.

‘How can we talk about poverty when there are capitalists at the forum?’ asked one protester from South Africa.

This morning the protesters entered the VIP lounge and took over the press conference. The main speaker was a woman from the People’s Parliament, who refused to give her name, saying she spoke in the name of her community.

She told us that 60% of Kenyans live below the poverty line, on less than one US dollar per day. ‘To ask us to pay seven dollars (entrance fee) to talk about our poverty is criminal.’ She claimed that all the organisers were university professors. ‘You don’t need to go to university to learn about poverty – you live it.’

According to the organisers, arrangements had already been made for local people to register at the gates for free, there are free water fountains around the site for those who can’t afford to pay, and a food outlet selling lunch for 20 Kenyan shillings (about 20 pence).

I believe this is genuine. The surface problem is one of information and communication, which has been lacking in many aspects of the forum.

But the fundamental question remains valid. To what extent are these events truly inclusive? Those of us who have been involved for a long time know that civil society can’t mobilise without funding and it can only get that from people with money.

Representatives from the WSF Youth Camp at the press conference told us that perhaps this sort of thinking shows our minds have been ‘colonised’ – and that it’s up to the youth to come up with real alternatives.

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Entry filed under: Diversity and equality, General, Human rights and dignity.

Sisters are doing it for themselves Good news

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. reviews  |  January 15, 2009 at 12:00 pm

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