26 January 2007

Africa: Nairobi World Social Forum Comes to an End

Nairobi — A riot of sounds and colours marked the close of the seventh edition of the World Social Forum in Nairobi as thousands of delegates marched to Uhuru Park.

The ceremony - attended by delegates from all over the world - kicked off with a march from Korogocho slums and a marathon race from Kariobangi.

World Social Forum delegates participate in a walk through Nairobis Korogocho slums yesterday .

The 16-kilometre race was graced by world-famous long distance runner Paul Tergat.

At the park, music by Kenyan artistes blared from a huge state-of-the-art sound system.

Rallying around the clarion call of "Another World Is Possible", the participants placed social justice, international solidarity, gender equality, peace and defence of the environment on the agenda.

The meeting is timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum - a meeting of top CEOs and select world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss better management of the world economy.

Hundreds of those in attendance surged to the front, dancing and waving placards and banners.

Speakers, who included 2004 Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai and international human rights activists Chico Whitaker and Danny Glover, hailed the meeting, which organisers say was attended by more than 60,000 participants, as a success.

"When you work with poor people, you get discouraged but that changes when you meet other people who face the same challenges as you are dealing with. You know then that you are not alone," Prof Maathai told the crowds at the park.

Human race

Debt cancellation activist Wahu Kaara said amid cheers; "We in Africa refuse to be the continent identified as poor. We have hope and determination and everything to offer to the prosperity of the human race. Debts must be cancelled."

Mr Whitaker said that the forum - held for the first time in Africa - saw more than 1,200 events take place in six days.

"Those who cause conflict must understand that peace is not just the absence of war. It is the presence of justice. The victory of the WSF at Kasarani is mobilising grassroots organisations to have progressive leadership in power. The movements must resonate into the countries that commit atrocities," said Mr Glover.

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