Dakar, World Social Forum

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Porto Alegre, Bombay, Nairobi... and in 2011 (February 6-13) in Dakar, Senegal. In December the World Education Forum was held in Santiago de Compostela...

About 50,000 people participated from 130 countries, representing 1,200 organizations. The Senegalese authorities didn’t facilitate this meeting of “the Peoples”, but the gathering of so many persons of good will, profoundly different but united in the same goals, was a great success. They expressed their points of view, explained the situation in the areas of the world in which they live, shared experiences and serenely but firmly cried out for justice and peace.

Hundreds of “self-managed” activities, pronouncements, declarations. With a few appreciated exceptions, as was to be expected the media gave very little attention to the Social Forum, due to its “belonging”. That’s all right. In reality Davos fades away with the last throb of the “globalizers”, while Porto Alegre, represented this time in Dakar, is growing progressively stronger.

The news media normally highlights protests, logically because they stem from the world’s disinherited or those acting on their behalf, while ignoring proposals. Some of them excellent proposals based on a new model of sustainable development, beneficial for all and committed to the coming generations. But this system is clearly incompatible with huge military spending, delocalization of production based on greed, tax havens... The poor want to play fair.

Concrete proposals concerning renewable energies, alternative funding from electronic transactions, replacing the Washington Consensus for the Barcelona Consensus adapted to the present situation... for which the Washington Consensus is largely responsible.

Whether those still anchored in the past and in their privileges want to recognize it or not, specific proposals were made to prevent new crises, especially another food crisis, the worst of all, the one that causes the most suffering and leaves unhealed wounds. Food, water and health must not be subjected to the strictly economic criteria of “consumer goods". Regulation of the “food chain” is a demand of both justice and common sense, in order to stem popular outrage.

I particularly love Africa for its temperament, its wisdom and the calculated capacity of its people to forget. For this reason I have fought and will continue to fight for an emancipated Africa, which for so long has been dominated and humiliated.

While strolling through the streets of the Corniche in Dakar, a stone’s throw from Goree Island where the slave trade reached unthinkable limits of perversion, I was reminded of Pietro Barcellona’s “In Praise of Useless Talk”. Apparently useless only because... it has extraordinary multiplying and mobilizing effects.

The proposals will now have broad repercussions in cyberspace. As in the north of the African continent, the peoples will strengthen democracy and bring authoritarianism and arbitrariness to an end. In a very few years the World Social Forum will have won the battle thanks to modern communications technology.

As I wrote in my homage to José Vidal Beneyto, "Vitality will rise from the South. / From the South will come the dawn for so many human beings tired of compromising"...

"In the streets of Tunis and Cairo and many other African cities”, said former Brazilian President Lula in Dakar, “a new hope is being born. Millions of people are rising up against the poverty to which they are subjected, against the domination of tyrants, against the submission of their countries to the policies of the great powers". Senegalese President Wade, from a very different position, expressed his disagreement with the antiglobalization movement, although he shares with them "the idea of changing the world "[1].

The 11th World Social Forum has demonstrated that the dream born in Porto Alegre can come true: "Another world is possible".

[1][1] See "FSM: Lula and Wade in Opposite Corners", by Koffigan E. Adigbli, Other News/ IPS, 9.02.11