Thousands of people were travelling to Bamako in Mali, west Africa, this week for the World Social Forum (WSF).
The WSF is being held in Bamako and, next week, in Caracas, Venezuela.
In Mali there will be trade unionists, community activists and other campaigners from across Africa as well as other parts of the world.
The WSF will bring together people fighting privatisation in Tanzania and Ghanaians fighting water sell-offs. There will be activists from the north and south of Ivory Coast, united in opposition to neo-liberalism in spite of the country’s political elites plunging the country into conflict.
Large delegations are coming from Nigeria and Senegal. And there is a growing belief that the war in Iraq provides the backdrop to our own struggles and critiques of the great powers.
The wars in Africa (such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo) are very important.
But there is also increasing recognition about the way US imperialism acts in Iraq and the way it affects people’s lives in Africa. Debt, the toll of HIV/Aids, privatisation, ecological catastrophe — each has its own dynamic but they are also part of a picture focused by the Iraq war.
We will be discussing governance and democracy issues, but not in the way the Western governments do — as a way of increasing their control over Africa.
We will be reflecting struggles for democracy that are against our own repressive governments and the stranglehold of neo-liberalism.
There will be many debates and discussions, many different views of the way forward. It promises to be an exciting and important event.
The Bamako event takes place from 19-23 January. The Caracas gathering is from 24-29 January. Full reports will appear in Socialist Worker