Youth at the World Social Forum Nairobi


Anele Silekwa * reflects on the strengths and weaknesses of youth participation at the WSF and concludes that there is much work to be done in this sector.

�   Good education for global democracy, facilitated by Youth Network for Better World from Italy,

�   Mapping the youth movements by the Sahiba Sisters Foundation,

�   Youth in Decision Making by the Somali National Youth Organization,

�   Mobilization: The role of youth, by the Africa Youth Coalition Against Hunger,

�   The Youth, the mass student movement and the struggle for decent jobs, by AIDC and others.

Organisational Problems

In terms of the overall organizational preparations for the forum, a few things didn’t go well. The first is that the programme was not made available leading to many participants being confused about times and venues of various sessions and events. This meant that only two days instead of three were effectively utilized for the youth camp. The second problem was that a youth festival was organised at the youth center when sessions were still underway. This seriously disrupted the work of the camp as presentations and deliberations had to be cancelled due to loud music. Without taking away the good work that was done by the organizers, it would have been useful if the Festival was held in the evening so as not to clash with deliberations. There were also instances of facilitators not turning up in time and thus delaying sessions.

In terms of the quality of political discussions, although many planned session that had a more political platform did not materialize, the WSF youth camp wasn’t entirely politically unsuccessful. In fact maximum participation was geared by letting participants summarize what are the issues in their respective countries. At some stages it felt like South Africans, Zimbabweans and Kenyans were dominating the sessions as these countries had more representation. Informal presentations were offered by comrades from Swaziland, describing the political conditions under King Mswati. There was also a special focus on the situation in Zimbabwe

In Kenya for example, government has introduced a Youth Employment Scheme (YES) that is seen to be part of NEPAD and the continent’s millennium developmental goals and strategies in fighting unemployment in Africa. The programme is aimed at enhancing the entrepreneurial capacity of the Kenyan youth. This initiative has similarities with that of the South African government through which it tries to cause political confusion among the youth by absorbing them into projects that remove them from political activism.

In spite of the above practical and organizational problems and lack of political clarity on some of the issues, the positive development from the youth camp was that most sessions could agree on the overall orientation for social movements as being against any form of imperialism, whether it is imposed by our fellow citizens/countrymen or by foreign multinational companies and multilateral institutions.

The march

As for the march from Korogoco in Kasarani, the second biggest slum in Nairobi, to the city centre Uhuru Park, this was kicked off with a 16 kilometers marathon race, with runners wearing T- shirts proclaiming “Another world is possible even for slum dwellers” . The march was successful in putting across the massage. We even heard primary school kids shouting “No more Bush’ through the school fence. But I wonder what would have been the impact if the other group did not run ahead, leaving others behind.

However, it would have made a massive difference if South African organizations held a session specifically for the youth, whether it’s on Nepad and its implications for young people. In most sessions it came out that most African countries were not clear on how South Africa and Nepad contribute to the world order. In this respect, there continues to be confusion, with activists from the rest of the continent seeing South Africa as the model country.

I would recommend that we should do more in youth in nairobi ore than 60 000 thousand activists from across the world representing more than 200 organizations came together in

The World Social Forum held in Nairobi, Kenya. A number of activities and discussions were conducted in the course of the WSF. The range of issues discussed and activities undertaken include amongst others: the plight of Masai and Yiaku people standing for cultural identities; artistic expression; anti terrorism; poverty reduction; global trade policies; gender issues; world peace; environmental justice issues etc. Right in the middle of the deliberations there was a youth camp that was a platform for young people to engage and share experiences on a range of issues confronting the youth movement globally. Below is a brief summary of some of the workshops that were held at the youth centre:

�   The African dialogue on the millennium devel- opment goals which was facilitated by the Kenya youth education and community development programme, as well as health and HIV/Aids issues in Kenya. Overall, the climate was one of comradeship with emphasis on sharing experiences and establishing stronger partnerships, networks and coalitions.

In spite of this, some of the sessions lost focus and didn’t seem to have much political direction. For instance, a session meant to deal with issues of youth empowerment and transformation ended up discussing youth and entrepreneurship. Some of the young people seem to believe that the challenges of poverty, development and lack of opportunities could be resolved through government initiatives. grooming the youth movement as some of us lacked the skills of engaging on an international level, we South Africans kept looking at national political issues that in the end provoked other comrades. Young people need to do more reading and to be active in these mass meetings for them to determine their destiny.

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