The nearly one hundred people sat patiently at the customs section of the airport. Many had travelled with me from Nairobi with many more travelling in the same connecting flight from Istanbul. We had all arrived in Tunisia for the World Social Forum. Despite the fatigue, we were happy to be there because the World Social Forum always presents a unique opportunity to meet like-minded change agents from across the world.
I had first participated in the World Social Forum in Nairobi back in 2007. I was the local coordinator of the Independent Media (Indymedia) platform and we were hosting Indymedia colleagues from all over the world. I was delighted by the social revolutionary spirit of many people who came from all over the world for the event.
As I sat at the customs section of the Carthage International Airport in Tunis, memories from the World Social Forum in Nairobi came back into my mind. This forum gave Julian Assange, the Wikileaks co-founder one of his first opportunities to start introducing Wikileaks to the world. For four days, he did what many other gathered activists were doing – handing out fliers about his initiative; talking to people about social injustices and how his initiative would play a role to fix them; debating about the ideals of this other world that was possible and generally interacting with fellow World Social Forum attendees.
Julian Assange is said to have been so thrilled that he referred to that particular World Social Forum as ‘the World’s biggest NGO party.’ After the event, he spent a better part of two years in Nairobi as he attempted to extend the ‘beach party’ of alternative ideas and action towards another world. A few years later, these ideas and action, as implemented by wikileaks, burst onto the global scene.
Such is the power of the world social forum. It obviously has many weaknesses and critics but its enduring legacy is the fact that it is a breeding ground for lasting, grassroots-oriented change. That’s why I was quite delighted that RITIMO had facilitated my presence and participation in this particular World Social Forum in Tunis. Based in France, RITIMO is an information and documentation network for solidarity and Sustainable Development.
On Sunday 22nd March in the morning, I met with the vibrant RITIMO team, including Erica and Viviana, who had worked tirelessly to ensure that I would be in Tunis to join them and others in yet another World Social Forum. Hopefully, our meeting of minds will spark powerful ideas that will usher the world towards more justice and empowerment.
Our morning meeting was about tackling the programme of the World Forum of Free Media, which was starting later that Sunday. Free Media nurtures more empowerment and justice.
As I sipped my lemonade and listened to the dynamic RITIMO team talking about the week ahead, I felt that another world was indeed possible not just years from now, but from today onwards.