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									                 St John Catholic Church, Korogocho.
                      P.O Box 47714 00100 G.P.O
                           Nairobi, Kenya.
                  Mobile: 0724261751 and0733702972
      Email: and
                           Date: 11.01.2007

World Social Forum or World Economic Forum?
(By Oluoch Japheth Ogollah.)

A wind of unsuspecting silence is currently blowing over Nairobi, the self-proclaimed
city in the sun. Those who are familiar with Nairobi, Kenya's capital city know that this is
very unusual of Nairobi. Nairobi like any other capital city in the world is a hotbed of
activities. Hundreds of thousands of people flock here everyday to do anything and
everything for a living, a terrible living which once prompted John Ward, the father of
slain Julie Ward to remark, 'Kenyans are just surviving. Most of them are too poor to
enjoy their own country!'

Perhaps this silence is understandable considering that Kenyans have just reported back
to work from almost a month of Christmas and New Year festivities. During such
celebrations, Kenyans spend generously, travelling expensively to their rural areas and
throwing parties at friends and get-crashers alike. They forget about January, the bad
month when pockets are empty, the shopkeeper and 'mama mboga' are allergic to the
famous phrase: 'nitakulipa mwisho wa mwezi'-I shall pay you at the end of the month.

Inspite of their craze for holidaying and 'kujienjoy' as baba Jimmy him of 'mavi ya kuku'
and 'pumbavu ' fame will put it, Nairobians are very conscious about current affairs and
major up-coming events. No wonder the December general election is on everybody's
lips as if it is taking place tomorrow.

 Yet a major event is taking place in our country in a few day's time but only a few
people are talking about it! Over one hundred thousand people drawn from all over the
world will be coming to Kenya for the seventh edition of the world social forum. This is
the first time the forum will be coming to Africa and it is expected to be the largest
international gathering in the history of this country. Representatives of non-
governmental organizations, civil society, religious organizations, pressure groups,
community based organisations, human rights groups, governments and other organized
groupings will be in Nairobi's Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani for five days
from 20th-25th January 2005.
Born seven years ago in Brazil, the World Social Forum is an open platform where all
human beings, irrespective of their social, economic and political affiliations, have an
opportunity to articulate issues affecting their human development, share their struggles,
challenges and achievements. We live in a world characterized by global injustices and a
perpetuation of neo-colonial practices, which undermine the progress of the so-called
developing world.

The international policy framework is designed to deprive and suffocate the African
population. The self-declared developed world promotes trading and political policies,
which ensure that they continue to get richer as we get more impoverished. Most African
governments are equally guilty of misgovernance, corruption, and disregard to the rule of
law and constitutionalism and immoral greed. They gladly fit in the schemes of
international institutions ad governments who need them to economically re-colonize
their own people. This is why most African dictators are in good books in the West.

The world social forum provides an occasion to share these experiences, build networks
and come up with global approaches to addressing such human rights and justice issues.

About the same time, representatives from the world's richest countries will be meeting in
Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. They will be discussing on how to
maintain the status quo and dominate the developing world through unjust multilateral
and bilateral donor conditionalities before advancing any aid to Africa. The main agenda
in their progrmme will be on how to make more money of course at our expense.

Here lies the tragedy! What are we exactly organizing in Nairobi? A world social forum
or a world economic forum? The priority for the world social forum is the people. Masses
and masses of people ready to tell their stories of subjection, deprivation and
dispossession and how they are overcoming these injustices. Enormous efforts must be
spent on mobilising people to understand and own the concept and practice of the world
social forum. The success of the forum will therefore depend on how many ordinary
Kenyans attend because they have a conviction to dismantle structures and systems which
catalyse our domination and exploitation and not because an organisation has catered for
the costs involved. To be able to achieve this, there is need for adequate and expansive
publicity programme.

We must now urgently move out of the comforts of our offices and get to the ground with
the world social forum gospel. Let us bombard the media with documentaries, live
debates, advertisements and articles to the print media about the world forum. It is sad
that with just a few days to the forum, the media is not enthusiastic about the world social
forum. In fact, the media are more focused on the December general elections than this
historic event. As organizers of this event we have not done enough to make the world
social forum a media agenda. Hence this media apathy. Our world social forum media
strategy is failing. We must now bring the country to a standstill like the famous
referendum on the defeated proposed new constitution. At this critical time, if this is
going to be a social forum of the masses, the various organisers must make sure that
world social forum is talked at the work place, in schools, in bars, along the streets, in
government offices, in media houses, every where. Unless we do this, we risk organizing
the world economic forum where the rich and the powerful coalesce to discuss issues
affecting the grassroots in their absence.

Poor mobilisation of communities will definitely turn the event into an economic forum.
This fear was strengthened by an article appearing in one of the local dailies allegedly
authored by a member of the World Social Forum Secretariat. The article in question
glorified the event as an opportunity for the various economic sectors in the country to
make money from the delegates who would be drawn from the world over. This analysis
reduced the otherwise serious and relevant forum to a touristic and commercial activity.
Such commercial approach to the forum makes it difficult to know whether we are
organizing a social forum or an economic forum. What differentiates the Nairobi Forum
from the Davos Forum?

 It is true that the country will make some money from the forum. But this should be a
secondary motivation. Our main motivation must be to ensue that over fifty percent of the
delegates are ordinary Kenyans from humble social and economic backgrounds. This
calls upon us the need to think beyond the forum so that we should come up with a
practicable way forward to deal with the challenges we face. Otherwise the forum will be
a mere talking shop. More importantly, this is a social forum, not an economic forum.

The writer is a human rights activist based in Korogocho. He Can be reached
through or 0724 261 751
                 St John Informal School, Korogocho.
                      P.O Box 47714 00100 G.P.O
                           Nairobi, Kenya.
                 Mobile: 0733702972 and 0724261751
      Email: and
                           Date: 11.01.2007

Another World is Possible even for the slum dwellers, says the Catholic Church.

By Oluoch Japheth.

The Catholic Church is preparing for a strong presence at the forth-coming 7th edition of
the World Social Forum scheduled for Nairobi Kenya from the 20th-25th January this
year. Operating under the banner of Kutoka Network, a voluntary gathering of Christian
teams working with people living in the over 200 slums of Nairobi, the Catholic church
has lined up a series of parallel activities to take place before and during the forum.

According to the statistics gathered by the Network, over 2.5 million out of 4 million
Nairobians live in then slums, occupying only 5% of the land cover. It is a great injustice
that a majority of people are over crowded in a small land area while the minority live
lavishly in large chunks of land. Together with other partners such as Kenya Land and
Housing Coalition, Caritas International and All African Conference of Churches, the
four year old network is organizing the slum population to have a strong presence in
Kasarani to articulate their issues. "The state provides no housing for the poor thus being
forced to live in deplorable conditions, lacking security of tenure. The constant threat of
eviction traps the dwellers into slum conditions and a cycle of poverty. Without security
of tenure, a slum dweller has no initiative to invest in permanent housing" Kutoka
Network says in a joint statement with the Kenya Land and Housing Coalition.

The St. John Catholic Church, which is a member of the Kutoka Network of slums, is one
of the most active community mobilizers for the world social forum in Korogocho. To
mark the international peace day, which is normally celebrated on the first day of the
year, it teamed up with the Korogocho Spiritual Leaders Association to lead about five
hundred Christian for a peaceful procession to Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani
the venue for the World Social Forum.

About fifteen spiritual leaders present issued a strong press statement calling upon the
government to address once and for all the plight of the people of Korogocho. The youths
of the church have also organized a music concert to mobilize the youth constituency to
attend the forum and participate actively in the deliberations. The concert brought
together a large number of artists from Korogocho. Dubbed 'Another World is Possible
With the Youths', the music concerts displayed massive talents exhibited by the youths
of the slums.

On the second day of the forum, there will be a street children festival organized by the
street children programmes falling under the St. John Catholic Church and other street
children programmes in Nairobi. Sponsored by the various organizations working with
children, the community and the world social forum guests will be entertained with the
enormous talents from the street families. Another major event will be 'Securing Basic
Rights For The Poor In The Slums' seminar at World Social Forum Venue in Kasarani
on 22nd January. The event will be organised together with the Land and Housing

'A Marathon Through The Slums for Basic Rights' will crown the busy week on the
last day of the World Social Forum on 25th January. It will be a marathon passing through
several slums in Nairobi. The marathon will target about ten thousand participants from
the slums and a few international athletes such a Paul Tergat and Catherine Ndereva.
Registration for the 14 kilometres marathon is going on at ten shillings only. The event
will commence at 7.00 a.m with registration at The St. John Catholic Church, Korogocho.
Korogocho residents can get in touch with the St. John Catholic Church. The church will
also be supporting two hundred and fifty Korogocho and Kariobangi residents to attend
the forum by registering at twenty shillings instead of two hundred and fifty for the five

It is important that organizations working with the slum dwellers develop creative
initiatives to ensure that many slum dwellers are represented at the forum. Unless we do
this, we shall fail in our objectives to have a strong presence of the masses a the forum.

To get more information about the World Social Forum call Japheth 0724 261751 or
Hesbon 0720710756.
                St John Informal School, Korogocho.
                     P.O Box 47714 00100 G.P.O
                          Nairobi, Kenya.
                Mobile: 0733702972 and 0724261751
     Email: and
                          Date: 11.01.2007

                              Press Release.
'Another World Is Possible With The Youths' Music Concert.
There will be a music concert at the St. John Catholic Church Amphitheatre on
Sunday 14th January 2007 at 2.00pm. The event is organized by the youth of St. John
Catholic Church. It will be in preparation for the forth-coming world social forum to be
held at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani from 20th to 25th January 2005.
Borrowing from the world social forum theme, 'Another World Is Possible', the music
concert is dubbed, 'Another World Is Possible With The Youth.' About twenty artistic
and musical groups from Korogocho and her environs will perform.

The main objectives of the concert will be to mobilize the youth constituency particularly
from Korogocho to attend and participate in the forum and also to display the tremendous
artistic talents in the slums. Though known for all the wrong reasons a few years ago,
Korogocho is today a beehive of innovative ideas and activities courtesy to the youth
involvement in changing the image of the slums. The arts industry in Korogocho is facing
a boom and many young and promising musicians are coming up. At the concert, about
250 Korogocho residents will be registered at twenty shillings instead of two hundred and
fifty shillings to attend the forum for the five days.

During the music concert, there will also be registration for 'A marathon through
slums For Basic Rights', which will be held on 25th January 2005 to close the World
Social Forum. About ten thousand athletes including Paul Tergat and Catherine Ndereva
will participate.

Media Contact Person:

Oluoch Japheth Ogollah-0724261751

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