The Forum began in the Afternoon of November 25, 2008 after the Great March of African Dignity. Many thousands of people, from all over Africa, marched with drums and trumpets, music and dances and slogans attacking the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO. “Long live Africa. Down with the imperialists”. “Long live the people’s Africa marching against neoliberal globalisation”. “Another world is possible. Another Africa is possible”.
All this was vibrant, full of energy, and gave renewed life to each one of us. The confidence, the enthusiasm shown by the youth, the women and the peasants who had come in numbers, by caravan or other means, had allowed exchanges of views looking towards the future, towards social transformation, freedom, peace, rights and equality.
Bamako-2006 (Multi-centred World Social Forum), Nairobi-2007 (World Social Forum) and today Niamey-2008 (African Social Forum) – all these Forums bore witness to growing participation, growing interest, and to a high level of discussion in the plenary sessions as well as in the workshops. This was a well organised forum.
The names of the meeting halls give an idea of the seriousness and depth of the political tendency: Kwame Nkrumah, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Thomas Sankara, Lumumba, Myriam Makeba, Julius Nyerere, Modibo Keita, Jibo Bakari, Amilcar Cabral. All these names evoke the awakening of the African continent and confirm the present-day rejection of subjection and imperialist domination in all its forms, as well as the need for a profound change.
Before the inauguration, the issue of immigration was presented by a group of artists from Mali, immigrants themselves. They made this issue come alive in all its touching and poignant reality. We could only regret that it was not possible to see this event in France or elsewhere.
All through the three days of debates, the discussions and questions in the plenary sessions and workshops were lively, committed and very interesting.
The themes of the three plenaries were: “Africa in the Arc of Crises”, “Africa in Global Geopolitics” and “The Challenges of Building Democracy in Africa”. The discussions in these plenaries confronted with great seriousness the realities of which we are, today, the victims.
The workshops tackled many questions such as the food and agricultural crises, problems of women and children, of youth and peasants, of the debt, of immigration, the new concept of universalism, how to react to the theories of the clash of civilisations, to the problems of public services, the right to land, sovereignty, education and many other questions.
After the not very encouraging Malmö European Social Forum, the Niamey Forum, by its mobilisation and great participation, proved that the Forum remains, and can still continue for a long time to be, an open area of convergence of ideas and activists for another world of solidarity.
The Frantz Fanon Youth Camp was the meeting point of African young people ready to understand, to challenge and to organise themselves to face all the scourges and all the conflicts that afflict Africa. This area enabled them to free their dynamism and to let the deaf world learn that “Africa is ready to take up the challenge, and the future is promising”. The fact that the young people met in this camp, named after Frantz Fanon, aptly expresses the idea that Fanon remains contemporary and that he is the very expression of resistance to neoliberal globalisation and of struggle for the emancipation of the African continent.
The Niamey Forum has, more than ever, affirmed the determination of the peoples of Africa to consolidate the struggles on all fronts so that Africa may be “liberated” and that it remains a force in the international “alternative world” movement.
1. To contribute to the full in the lateral exchanges so as better to know the situation and to be enriched by various experiences and actions against neoliberalism in the present crisis.
2. To exchange ideas between activists and intellectuals of Africa and other continents about the issues regarding an alternative globalisation and alternative relations between peoples, countries and continents.
3. Discuss the state of thinking and analyses on the problems arising from colonialism, neocolonialism and from all forms of domination and alienation.
4. To continue to strengthen the networking and the work initiated during the Nairobi World Social Forum.
5. To contribute to promoting the works of Frantz Fanon, their contemporary relevance, to contribute to the creation of a Frantz Fanon Centre and of Frantz Fanon Circles.
6. To present the Letters from the South to the North as a pamphlet, to make contacts for continuing solidarity actions.
7. To organise the international coordination of the network.
We held three seminars in which between 60 and 80 people took part, a third of whom were present in all three seminars. Many others, who could not come back because of prior commitments, insisted on telling us how satisfied they were and that they were determined to continue. The Letters from the South to the North pamphlet was greatly appreciated. Many applications to join the network were handed in. Many people committed themselves to running and coordinating the network and to creating circles.
All agreed that the themes of our workshops were well inter-connected. These workshops were too rich to be summarised in a few lines. Some ideas emerged:
During the Universal and the Universals workshop, the discussion brought to the fore the meaning of internationalism today, and a view of the universal that kills diversity.
The Human Civilisation and Civilisations. The Clash of Civilisations workshop, starting from an analysis of resistance to colonialism, stressed some very innovative elements, particularly on the confrontation between will and the real. It enabled the question of the relation between cultures, territories and frontiers to be tackled.
The third workshop on The topicality of the memory of slavery and colonialism for acting together against capitalism and neoliberalism strongly referred to the contents of the rallies against neoliberalism and the notion of “alternative-worldism”.
The importance of the re-emergence of interest in the works of Frantz Fanon is broadly confirmed. This interest is closely linked with the search for identity and political perspective. In Africa, a movement for emancipation and autonomy is asking itself questions about African identity and values, finding its way out of alienation, and about the directions of struggle.
A part of African youth is seeking a way between the assertion of identity and openness, rallying the peoples and identifying the struggles they have in common. This youth has the opportunity of convergence with ideological and scientific work on questions undertaken by a number of African academics and intellectuals for many years. The choices at issue in the struggles are stark: between turning inward, fragmentisation , civil wars or new areas of human emancipation. Drawing on their history has become essential. How must this history be read?
We want to avoid acting “to the West of the Left”. We want to take our time to listen, for a real dialogue. We wanted strongly to assert that our actions were connected to the usefulness of these struggles for us, here where we live, in our own countries and continents as well as in Europe.
We have established connections with many of the 23 intellectuals who issued the open letter in reply to Sarkozy following his scandalous speech in Dakar.
It has been decided to create Fanon Circles in several countries (Niger, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Algeria, Benin, Mauretania), to coordinate the work and strengthen international coordination. Sequels to the Letters of the South to the North are expected. We also envisage holding a symposium on Africa’s share in European cultures: the production of the big foundation myths, the link with slavery, contemporary racism, aesthetics, politics, with the impossibility of any solution for Europe without Africa and vice versa.
Text by International Frantz Fanon Network