Yesterday was the day of Africa: Exploitation and Resistance, a free conference ran by the World Development Movement and Pambazuka News. Overall, it was an excellent event and I’m glad to have been able to attend. The only downside is that because of time restraints, six of the sessions that were on offer were split into three locations within the church, which meant that only two of them could be sat in on. Still, I was present at the the opening and closing plenarys which also provided great food for thought.
The sessions I attended and will be blogging about over the coming week are;
Africa from exploitation to resistance
The perception of Africa that many people in the UK have is dominated by starvation, corruption and tribalism. But while Africa is at the sharp end of corporate exploitation, the story of ordinary Africans organising against injustice remains largely untold. This session explored the African social movements who are writing their own history across the continent.
Speakers: Njoki Njorogi Njehu, Africa Jubilee South, Firoze Manji, editor in chief, Pambazuka News and Horace Campbell, director of the Africa Initiative, Syracuse University
Africa beyond aid
Most African countries receive more than 10 per cent of their GDP in aid. This creates huge problems, including making governments more accountable to donors than to voters. Would cutting aid make things worse or better? Some big charities are currently campaigning to defend aid spending. This session considers whether that’s the right priority, and what else we should be doing.
Speakers: Yash Tandon, Ugandan author of ‘Ending Aid Dependence’ and Jonathan Glennie, author of ‘The Trouble with Aid’.
Taking the biscuit: Is Fairtrade working?
The retail value of Fairtrade products in 2010 was over £1 billion in the UK alone. Fairtrade has gone mainstream, but is it really making an impact on poverty? Looking beyond controversial decisions over certification for Nestlé products, this session debated the Fairtrade model and whether it can deliver economic justice and sustainable development.
Speakers: Sophi Tranchell, managing director of Fairtrade chocolate company, Divine, Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement and Firoze Manji, editor in chief, Pambazuka News.
From food crisis to food sovereignty
Bankers are speculating on food in global markets, causing price spikes and real hardship for millions. ‘Land grabs’ in Africa are seeing more farmland transferred into corporate hands. Over one billion people in the world are hungry despite decades of ‘development’. Our food system is in crisis, but a global movement of small producers is fighting for an alternative – food sovereignty. This session explored the problems of, and possible solutions to, the global food crisis.
Speakers: Njoki Njoroge Njehu, director of Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Centre, Kenya and Julian Oram, WDM’s head of campaigns and policy.
I ended up taking 25 pages of notes, including some great quotes, so keep tuned this week to see more in depth contents of the event!
For more information on the speakers, click here.