Friday, November 17, 2006

The Indian Social Forum 2006 In Words & Pics

Reveries of a Social Justice Carnival in Feisty Asia

By Onyango Oloo in Nairobi

I have been catching my breath for the last few days, soaked in a bubble bath of vivid memories from New Delhi where the Indian Social Forum took place from November 9th to the 13th.

Over several venues dotted around the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium grounds over 50,000 people converged to rail against imperialist globalization, celebrate diverse and myriad cultures; showcase the tenacity of youth struggles, reflect on Africa-Asia solidarity, foreground gender-based aspirations and contestations; network with other social movements; partake of Indian cuisine and generally strategize around concrete visions to construct alternatives to monopoly capitalist social, ideological, economic and cultural models.

The event was well covered by the Indian mainstream print and electronic media as you can see from this link and this other one...

Not to be out done, IPS filed this story....

The Nairobi-based WSF 2007 Commission on Culture sent a troupe to New Delhi which delivered a resounding, very well received performance that closed the India Social Forum with a veritable bang.

The event was kicked off by a spectacular musical performance by one of India's cultural and ethnic minorities. This show was followed by an all woman panel consisting of representatives from across India as well Wahu Kaara from the Kenya-based WSF 2007 Organizing Committee and

Eilleen Kuttub from the Women's Studies Center at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank.

On the last day, South African activist Liepollo Lebohang Pheko from GENTA gave a very powerful address.

I could say a whole lot, but let the pictures below do the talking for me:

This banner above has a lot of resonance among Kenyans, I think, especially in view of the return to cabinet of two graft tainted politicians a few days ago.

Burmese activists were on hand to protest against the military dictatorship in their country.

Women activists were very, very vividly visible.

India's diverse cultures were on full display...

George Bush is NOT the most popular politician of all time, ama?


Street theatre speaks volumes....

Happy dances and...

Angry denunciations....

Queer folk refused to hide- instead they proudly posed to assert their identity and communities...

A poster announcing the programme for the closing ceremony. Note the Kenyan participation.

A vertical, sky-scraping banner from WSF-Bangladesh is sufficiently eloquent.

From more images and stories about the just concluded India Social Forum, please click on this One World link.

Onyango Oloo
Nairobi, Kenya

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mkono wa Tanzia to Bradley, Levert & Palance

From Onyango Oloo at the India Social Forum in New Delhi, India

Rest in Peace Ed Bradley.

Shukrani for your incisive, sardonic pieces for 60 Minutes over the years.

Rest in peace Gerald Levert.

Your sizzling, melodious love lyrics and vocals acted as powerful catalysts for myriad couples seeking musically assisted nocturnal conceptions.

Rest in peace Jack Palance.

Growing up in Mombasa in the mid-70s, you were one of the reasons why the teenage version of myself strove to save at least one Kenyan shilling every week to get a chance to see you and others at the Moons cinema every Saturday at 10:00 am.

At this moment I am at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Grounds attending the India Social Forum, but as far as a place to sleep, I am currently holed up in a small hotel in the Greater Kailash-1 section of New Delhi. There is a whole bunch of us from Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Vietnam, Bangla Desh, Thailand, Zimbabwe, France, Pakistan and of course this vast country attending the India Social Forum which started on the 9th and wraps up on the 13th of November 2006.

Were it not for the fact that I have to get myself ready for an India-France International Video Conference in barely 45 minutes, I would have taken the time to upload to this site some of the fabulous jpegs I snapped earlier this mid-morning with my ageing Olympus digital camera. Just to tease you a bit, let me describe in words some of the images you should be oggling at:

A floating white ball/balloon trumpeting social justice hovering above fifteen foot trees; a gigantic vertical banner from WSF Bangladesh proclaiming STOP! Communalism Terrorism Arms Race Extra Judicial Killing; a proud twenty something South Asian lip sticked gay man in a crimson top and cream skirt; a group of energized Indian indigenous people shaking their collective fists as they make a dignified entrance to one of the ISF venues; a big banner at one of the entrances linking tourism to child prostitution and child labour; a snap shot of slum dwellings squating next to the ultra-modern Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Grounds; Dalit activists staging a play on a red stage; a squadron of black sari clad members of the Tamilnadu Women's Collective chanting in unison; another shot of five queer people, flowing hair and flowing saris in a multiplicity of hues; workers marching for their rights; Eileen Kutab from the Women's Studies Center at West Bank's Bir Zeit University making a presentation as part of the all women's panel that kicked off the India Social Forum....

Those pictures and the stories accompanying them will be the subject of a future cyberpost.

Almost forgot to mention in passing that early this Saturday Memorial Day November morning when I was watching a live edition of Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN I was moved and perturbed by the story of Iraq Vet Joe (forget his last name which is Italian sounding and begins with an N) currently calling his beaten up car his home in New York, grappling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and very bitter that the American state does not treat people like people. It is sadly unfortunate that he had to discover this old fact only after killing people he did not know at the behest of that very same government.

Rushing to the tail end of this blog dispatch I notice that the ODM heavyweights were in Mathare yesterday to call the governmment to account over the grisly slayings in that sprawling slum-with President Kibaki also making an announcement about his administration's stance on the burning issue.

As I pen off ( the media lady-an Afro-Parissienne- from France is tapping on my shoulder as I keyboard frantially away, signally the imminent start of the video conference on out-sourcing and how it impacts on Asia, Africa and the struggle against globalization) I hope that all Kenyans take very seriously the growing insecurity all over the country.

Our country is really a tinder box.

If we do NOT take proactive actions now, we could be facing a Somalia/Rwanda like scenario in our very own Kenya.

I am serious.

Onyango Oloo
New Delhi, India

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Transit UAE: On Rumsfeld, Ortega, Mathare and Kuresoi

A Dispatch by Onyango Oloo from the Dubai International Airport

Keyboarding from a standing position, I string verbs, adjectives, nouns, conjunctions et cetera along in the nifty glass and steel cyber booth brought to transit passengers courtesy of Samsung. In the background a droning voice over in Emirati Arabic and South Asian English tells people from which gate they can catch their next flight on this or that airline to somewhere else around the globe. Like I said when I last spoke about this airport, I am still dazzled by the spectacular ambience of this chunk of Dubai real estate- even as I shudder at the sparkling monuments to consumerism that inundates the space....

The last time I was here was in early December last year, wheel-chair bound from Conakry, Guinea via Paris onwards to Nairobi from the African Social Forum.

Right now I am killing time by celebrating the bushthwacking of the blood-thirsty, graft tainted and horny Republicans in the just concluded Congressional polls in the States and the resurrection of a transmogrified Daniel Ortega in the Nicaraguan elections. Particularly sweet to savour is the announcement that leading warmonger Donald Rumsfeld is finally kaput at least as far as being Defence Secretary is concerned.

What is really swirling through my mind though, as I wait to eventually arrive in New Delhi for the 2006 India Social Forum are the news reports that have been searing through me, and I presume many of my Kenyan compatriots over the last few weeks.

One of my Nairobi pals sent me an SMS over the weekend questioning the authenticity of the widely-reported raid on Michuki's rural home. He spoke about eye-witnessing bloody stand offs in Baba Dogo.

On Sunday I was chilled to see NTV @ One report on a brazen road-side shooting targeting the family of Prof. Anyang' Nyong'o going home from church- this on the very day when the good ODM prof decried rising insecurity all over Kenya.

The November 8th Kenya Times devoted its front page to this very vexing national concern.

We know what has been going on in Kuresoi, Mathare, Laikipia etc. The Ugandans bombed us the other day and some Ethiopians tagged "rebels" by the Kenyan media killed some government reservists.

Meanwhile, parents and siblings are still hacking family members to death even as cases of femicide escalate.

I have spoken elsewhere and prolifically about the endemic violence embedded in the allegedly peaceful and harmonious Kenyan society, so I will not regurgitate those views of mine that are archived in several Kenyan-specific online communities.

What I want to explore briefly, given the concrete and immediate context of this unedited, semi-stream-of-consciousness straight from mind to internet blog entry is the speculated connection between seemingly unrelated acts of gang-to-gang slum mayhem, allegedly spontaneous resurgence of ethnic violence and the controversial and contested attacks on Michuki, Anyang' Nyong'o and other public figures.

Could it be the case that some nefarious forces are doing a dress-rehearsal for next year's general election?

Are some NARC-era politricians borrowing from KANU's old book of election year tricks?

Is there more than meets the eye in the violence rocking Mathare, Kuresoi or elsewhere?

The first thing to do of course, is verify where the truth lies, and where the lies emanate from.

The second thing to do is to take concrete actions to stem and stamp out the violence no matter where it comes from.

And like I have said before, you can not stamp out "community-based" violence with state terror, no matter how noble the intentions.

One of the dividends of the democratic victories Kenyans fought and sacrificed so much for ought to be a modicum of peace and national harmony- two ideals that have been devalued by the Mois and Kibakis of this world through propagandistic over use.

I will say more later....

Onyango Oloo
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
1:20 am local time, Thursday, November 9, 2006