Reflections from the Activist School in Sweden

KC JOURNAL NO 31 November/December 2012

Anna Gunterberg* reflects on the school in Sweden and highlights the need for solidarity

For Afrikagrupperna (Afrika Group of Sweden), the mobilisation of our members to participate in the activist school with Khanya College in Stockholm, last year and this year, has been very important.

For many years, members of AGS have discussed our identity as a solidarity organisation. What does solidarity mean after colonialism and apartheid? In Sweden the word solidarity is rarely used in everyday life, and it has an old-fashioned ring to it, especially to young people. This also emerged as a challenge amongst our members, when we discussed solidarity and activism in a workshop facilitated by Khanya College at the activist school in November 2012.

Our friends from Khanya College and Abahlali, in South Africa, and Pots of Hope, in Namibia have created a new understanding of the meaning of solidarity and the importance of solidarity actions today. Together we developed an increased awareness of how our world is connected and that our actions in Sweden and South Africa can make a change and carry weight for the people struggling in other parts of the world. This means that the campaigns that Afrikagrupperna run in Sweden, such as for example, ‘Who has the right to Africa’s resources?’ could be connected to ongoing struggles, and make them more relevant. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of this, in order to build solidarity and mobilise the Swedish public and members of Afrikagrupperna. The activist school raised a lot of interest, motivation and channelled members’ engagement. For Afrikagrupperna, we gained more insights into how to structure a solidarity campaign.

Personally, I would not have believed a support message for the Marikana workers to be that important if Maria Maluleka and Maria Van Driel had not emphasised it in the way they did. Comments from participants’ evaluations on the Activist School:

“The presentation and discussion on Marikana was quite an eye opener for me regarding politicians and capitalism in South Africa.”

“The workshop on solidarity gave us an understanding about how much work would have to be done in our countries respectively.”

“I received first hand information about Marikana, different from what I have seen and read about in the media.” Facebook comments from AGS members encouraging people to sign a message of support with the farmworkers on strike in the Western Cape in December 2012:

“A signature takes less than a minute and you take a stand for fair labour conditions for those who produce the wine you drink in South Africa. Sign and share and you will see that the bottle of wine at the weekend tastes a bit better.”AGS member from Malmö/Lund, Sweden.

“I can guarantee you will not be arrested for signing and supporting the [farmworkers’] struggle, a security that is not there for my friends in South Africa! Demonstrations are going on now, support them!” AGS member from Göteborg. Besides the increased knowledge and awareness, the activist school also meant a lot of meetings and new friendships. A big thank you from us at Afrikagrupperna to Khanya College for making this possible!

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