-- FabIan - 02 Feb 2006

Indymedia Centre in Bamako WSF 2006


Preparation phase

The preparation phase of the IMC in Bamako was short. Only in mid-November people on the IMC in Africa Collective started to discuss the possible participation of Indymedia and the construction of an Independent Media Centre during the first ever World Social Forum (WSF) in Africa. Despite a very short preparation time, people within the IMC in Africa collective managed to make contact to people who worked already on the ground in Bamako in the preparation of the Youth Camp and an independent radio station during the WSF. These people were French and Franco-Canadian radio and media activists with links to Indymedia and local and regional groups in West-Africa. Media where these people were involved include the magazin Africa XX1, http://www.afrique21.org, and the webportal of Togolese resistance against the dictatorship there, http://www.soutientogo.org

Fast cooperation in the spirit of independent media was born and from the side of the IMC in Africa collective a request was made to Indymedia Finance and to the Foundation \x84Umverteilen\x93 to supply funds for the realisation of a provisional IMC Bamako during the World Social Forum. In the same time the group in Bamako requested support from the official WSF for an Independent Media Centre as part of the Youth Camp and started to make arrangement and contacts with the local organising collectives. The idea included the plan to bring delegates from the existing IMC in South Africa and interested journalists and media activists from other African states. IMC in Africa collective asked \x84Umverteilen\x93 for a total of 7834 Euro to cover four African delegates participation and the technical costs for the set up of the media centre. Additional money for the participation of European delegates was asked from IMC Finance and on the basis of donation from individual IMCs. IMC Sheffield of which one of the European Participants came agreed to give \xA3100 (150 Euros) donation and also organised a benefit gig, which made another \xA3350 (525 Euros). On the ground in Bamako the WSF agreed to support the Independent Media Centre with a set of 15 Computers and a 256k Internet connection and gave a space at the side of the Youth Camp in the Stadium Complex of Bamako. The space was hardly ready to serve as a Media Centre, it had to be cleaned and wired up with electrical work to allow the centre to function. But the location was good. The radio activists on the ground started to bring in their technical requirements (as mixers and a sending antenna) from Europe and started to arrange the studio in a room beside the coming media centre. As a result of the late start of the preparations, the request to \x93Umverteilen\x94 was discussed by the foundation only one week before the WSF started. The positive response about the money reached the IMC in Africa collective two days before doors opened in Bamako. It was too late unfortunately to get the delegates from South Africa to actually come. But the money was there and some delegates from Togo had it easier (a much shorter journey) to decide to come even on short notice.

From Europe a delegate active with IMC Sheffield had already decided to go and was on the ground in Bamako from Tuesday the 17th January. From Togo there were already two delegates ready to fly and with the impossibility to get the South Africans to come, a decision was made on the ground in Bamako to allow two more journalists from Togo to come. The participation of four delegates from Togo reflects the current political situation in the country that is oppressed by a European backed dictatorship where media are controlled and opposition suppressed. The use and need of Independent Media, important in all parts of the world and Africa, can hopefully play a significant role in the networking of the Togolese resistance with the global network of Indymedia and other activists.

After it was clear that \x93Umverteilen\x94 would give money to support the IMC and that the South African delegates couldn\x92t come, IMC in Africa collective decided to withdraw the request for money from Indymedia Finance. Without the flight tickets for the South African delegates and with the good preparation on the ground with the WSF to secure some support for the IMC, only half of the money that we initially asked for was needed.

What happened in Bamako during the WSF?

The IMC in Africa collective decided to publish the information from Bamako with the help of IMC South Africa (in English) and IMC Marseille (in French) who both created a special featured section on their portals. The French portal \x84espace Zapatistas\x93 corresponded with a parallel camp in Marseille that was working in narrow cooperation. Most of the articles from Bamako were published on IMC Marseille, http://marseille.indymedia.org/features/espacezapatiste/, which has to do with the French language preference of many of the people at the WSF and the IMC delegation. But thanks to the translations process at Indymedia global, quite a few articles were also published in English on SA IMC http://southafrica.indymedia.org/features/wsfmali2006/ and later after a server problem at IMC SA on IMC Sheffield. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/sheffield/2006/01/332039.html

Indymedia installed an IMC in Bamako in the location of the Youth Camp http://www.fsmmali.org/jeunes/ at the multi-sport stadium of Bamako. The room was given to IMC for free by the WSF, but had to be cleaned and installed. With the help of the Internet Service Provider Afribone and Sotelma the IMC could use 15 computers during the WSF. One part of the bandwidth that guaranteed a fast Internet connection for both Radio and Open Publishing for Media Activists and participants was provided by Sotelma as part of the support the Media Centre got from the WSF. An additional part of the bandwidth was bought from the service provider Afribone. For the installation of the computers, the radio studio and the cinema some electrical works had to be done in preparation. IMC also prepared a Cinema, for which everything that needed to be done was renting a projector as films and Players were supplied by delegates form Indymedia and independent media activists. http://www.fsmmali.org/jeunes/article106.html?lang=fr

The cooperation with the radio and parts of the Youth Camp let to a very strong Independent Media Centre in Bamako. The Radio project was working both as an actual local radio and an Internet radio during the whole WSF. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/sheffield/2006/01/332071.html During the WSF Indymedia and the Radio shared a lot of reports and themes and worked closely together. The Cinema showed a variety of films and the provision of photo-cameras and video cameras lead to a lot of pictured report and video interviews that were published on the web pages. The IMC decided to produce IMC Print editions to both advertise the work of the IMC and create a material presence of the IMC at the WSF. Two editions were printed and spread over the WSF. They are also available online. http://marseille.indymedia.org/news/2006/01/4432.php

The delegates
With the help of Umverteilen it was possible to bring 4 people from Togo to join the working collective of European and Malian media-activists in Bamako. Initially it was planed to bring two delegates from Togo and two from South Africa\x92s IMC. But as lined out already it was impossible to get the SA delegates here because the time between the final approval of the funds and the actual beginning of the WSF was too short. IMC Bamako collective decided therefore to ask four delegates from Togo to come. One of them, a women active in the resistance is currently living in Paris, while the other three were coming in from Lome, Togo. All of them are activists who work against the dictatorship in Togo. The free and independent publishing of free media can play an important role to work against a dictatorship. Also, to bring the Togolese activists to the WSF served the important aim to help the Togolese resistance work together outside the country and form networks of resistance during the WSF. The delegates were introduced to the way an IMC is working and participated in the reporting from Bamako.

After the WSF, from Bamako to Nairobi and in between.
People from Togo and Mali are now participating in a process to create respective IMC in their countries. This process will take time and it is open, whether the IMCs will ever come into existence. The reasons for this are to be found in the difficulties of local groups to spend the time, to have access to the important recourses and to communicate as a collective without funding. The African context means that voluntary work for social change is a luxury and can only be afforded by a small number of people. None the less already two meetings of an IMC collective in Bamako were held in the last week and the collective decided to go ahead and meet on a weekly basis. From the side of IMC in Africa collective we will try to help as much as we can to ease the difficulties that arise with the creation of an IMC. From European IMC we will try to supply the groups with web space and the software to start provisional IMCs like the existing IMC in East Africa. With the help of IMC activists from Ireland at the moment there is a process of setting up a provisional Indymedia Webpage for Bamako, http://bamako.alluta.org/

We will also further assist local groups in the process to become an IMC also with regards to the WSF in Nairobi 2007. With all this in mind we can hope that in the long-term open publishing, the networking of radio-stations and the further use of internet-based media can be useful for the self-empowerment and emancipation of the people all over the world and in Africa.

For the IMC in Africa and provisional Bamako collective Fabian fab(at)in-no.org Zoul zoul(at)no-log.org

Topic revision: r2 - 09 Feb 2006, ThierrY
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