DAKAR CONFERENCE REPORT
For a while now there have been a discussion in the indymedia network on how to support the growth and development of indymedia in Africa. After attempts at approaching the issue we succeeded to go one big step with the first Indymedia Regional Meeting in Africa. The meeting was from the 1st to the 14th March 2004 in Dakar, Senegal and was tittled: Alternative media(indymedia) Conference in Africa, to encourage alternative media activists without any knowledge of indymedia to participate more actively in the conference discussions. Delegates came from Dakar (Senegal), Independent Media Centre Germany, Independent Media Centre Estr\xE9cho, Independent Media Centre Switzerland, Independent Media Centre Ambazonia/Cameroon, Kinshasa (DR Congo), Luanda (Angola), Mombassa (Kenya), and Nairobi (Kenya).
In other indymedia Conferences the essence is the face-to-face communication
between the delegates; getting together to share skills, experiences and ideas,
as well as to brainstorm and make plans for the future. In the Indymedia Africa
Conference, the crux of the matter is how to promote the growth and development
of indymedia in Africa with problems like :
1-The lack of a good multimedia infrastructure and the cheap consumer
electronics that have been at the root of the boom in \x93do it yourself\x94(DIY)
media in the global north and with it projects like indymedia.
2-The absence of a well developed self-organised left, with its democratic
self-organisation processes like direct-democracy practices and egalitarian
decision-making techniques-which are the core of the structure and political
concept of indymedia.
The struggle for emancipation in Africa that assumed huge energy in the 50s and
60s on the eve of the attainment of independence suffered disastrous setbacks.
-In some African countries the colonial powers short-circuited the independence
struggle by sponsoring a usurper whom they armed with heavy weaponry and imposed
on the people like their leader, into whose care the country was given token
independence e.g Cameroon, Gabon, Cote D\x92Ivoire.
-In countries where the independence movement succeeded to struggle for the
indepedence to the end, there were military coups to overthrow the peoples
elected government. These coups were sponsored mostly by the former colonial
masters and their allies e.g Zaire(DRCongo), Togo, Algeria, Mozambique.
-Where this did not work the World Bank and IMF were used to recolonise the
countries with Structural Adjustment Programmes(SAP). We also have those
countries which got caught in socialist revisionist control and in the end
folded-up with the IMF and world bank back to modern colonialism.
Most of these regimes in Africa get enough military personnel support,
ammunition and weapons from their cronies in western countries to be able to
increase the dose of violence against the home masses as much as is need to
frighten the people to docility. Thus seriously hampering the quest for
emancipation of people in Africa. The regimes go the extra step to stop any
activity that could raise political consciousness of the people by using
violence against political activists, which has just not left space for any
development of self-organised left groups except for some countries in the South
and East of Africa. In the process the national radio, TV and government
newspapers have been used to brainwash the masses; as they express mostly the
views of the governmenting elite. This whole constellation of oppression by regime and
indoctrination by the media is responsible for nightmares like the genocide in
Ruanda and the ongoing war without an end in DRCongo. For an Africa like this;
indymedia with it\x92s non-heirarchy and participative structure could be an
example for empowerment and self-esteem-building thus support the emancipation
struggle. Indymedia could also provide for the community the possibility to
express themselves as well as a communication tool within the community.
B.)-BACKGROUND TO CONFERENCE
It all began sometime between July and September 2002 when Jay Sand from imc-philly took time off to inform all African imcs and forming imcs of the existence of the other imc groups in the continent as well as the possibility to create a list for africa and african imcs specific issues. On the information, the imc-africa lists was created as a brainstorming space on the development and growth of imcs in Africa. Which started with discussing ways to introduce indymedia to African activists. The two probably ways were: 1.) through tours by people involved in indymedia; in which workshops are held to introduced indymedia to the African activists. And 2.) by having Regional meetings in which those interested in indymedia get to meet those already involved in indymedia.
In November 2003 was the first attempt to organise an African regional indymedia meeting to bring together activists of imc-Nigeria and imc-Ambazonia with an experienced network activist-Jay(who was on a trip to Ethopia) . The meeting did not hold because Jay had to urgently return home without the possibility to wait and participate in the meeting planned for Benin City, Nigeria. The absence of imc-activist(s) to share experience with the two african imcs made it unnecessary for the meeting to take place.
The discussions on the growth and development of indymedia in Africa continued on the list, with focus on bringing African activists in contact with experienced indymedia activists. These discussions became a topic for two workshop at the European Youth For Action (EYFA)-Easter-Meeting that took place in Asturias Spain in April 2003 hosted by ESCANDA.
In March 2003 we got a mail from memenet sent around a couple of mailing list inviting activists to join a project to organised a tour from Andalusia Spain to St.Louis Senegal. We(I) went to Berlin for the preparation meeting and shared our ideas of how we could function in this tour; by having indymedia awareness workshops in the course of the tour and ending with a Conference. Next we participated in the Nomadology Conference in Berlin which served as a place to round preparation for the tour (Boundaries to Bridges) tour. Unfortunately we did not succeed to mobilise any indymedia activists to run the workshops in the tour as wished. The Conference at the end of the tour then became the focus.
-We made a twiki page for the tour on docs.indymedia.org and created a mailman list.
-With the help of a techy from indymedia Germany we set-up a MIR website on so36.net and got the domain http://imc-in-africa.so36.net
-We introduced the tour/conference to main indymedia lists like; imc-process, imc-communication and imc-Europe as well as copied all the african imcs. We also organised some network irc-meetings on the issue to share ideas and proposals.
A call for delegates was sent around the network. Bak from imc-Switzerland, GATSby imc-Germany and Libby imc-Nertherland volunteered to pay their transport themselves to help with workshops in Dakar. Thus we only needed funds for transportation of the Africa delegates and conference expenses.
In between Urbana-Champaign IMC announced the setting up of a project called Indymedia Growth in Africa Project (IGAP). UCIMC wrote to the network asking for a facilitator/volunteer that will travel to Africa and help local groups start their own imcs. This annoucing of the project was right on time with preparation for the Conference. I volunteered and was selected. This played a great role in the overall preparation for the conference as it became clear that in the worst case we will have a Conference at least with people from around Dakar and the IGAP facilitator. IGAP-UCIMC also provided a travel stipend of $1500 for the facilitator\x92s trip to Africa- in this case Dakar for the Conference.
The most expensive part of the whole conference preparation was the transport of the African delegates. After 8months of discussions and efforts to get more activists engaged we where just weeks to the start of the Conference without any transport for the African delegates or money for Conference material. We had waited all alone to get as much precise information as possible to allow us prepare a correct budget for the conference. Here we had the information but hardly any time left.
+An application was made to imc-finance while efforts were continued with other fundraising attempts .
+Letters requesting donations were sent arround the network and to local imcs directly as well. In response of which we got some donations and contacts. One of the contacts Gerbrand connected us with Kees with whose assistance XminusY
denoted 2500 Euros for the Conference.
Other results of our appeals for donations are below as extras from the mails we received :
-Imc-Philly had a fundraiser and raised $400 to go toward
conference funds. \x93Not as much as we would have liked, but it was a great
fundraiser and lots of fun. Jay imc-philly\x94
Hi ! We saw that different imcs of Africa need money to organise a meeting in Dakar. Imc-nantes wants to make a donation of 50 EURuros for that\x85
thanks . Sieste for Imc-nantes (france)
Amount: 49,00 EUR
Note: this is all the money we have as a collective right now. but we don't need it. i just wish it was more. in solidarity, melb imc.
Donation to support African IMC conference \xA350,00 GBP.
Note: Transferring on behalf on IMC Cambridge (UK)
-Imc-philly 2rd donation
Total Amount: $65,00 USD
more from PhillyIMC
for the conference .
\x85unfortunately i may not be able to help you financially considering that my money is not enough for even the lowest expense that imc-africa needs. Imc-manila also has problems
financially/logistically, But I would be willing to help in otherways. E-mail me if there are other things that I and manila-indymedia can be of any help.
Really sorry and GOODLUCK!!!
TAKING EVERYDAY BY STORM!!!!
-We recieved the sum of 40 EU. from Fredi from reggaeneration band group
(fundraiser for Rothilfe),Germany.
Hello, Houston Indymedia approved $100 to donate to your conference about six
weeks ago\x85Best Regards,Ratch.houston.indymedia.org
With that we were no where close to the 15,000 Euros needed for the transportation of the African delegates. Very intense discussions took place in imc-Finance on the Conference . These discussions slightly changed the conference concept in the light of lack of funds. It was now that we try to get to Dakar at least a single delegate from each of the African groups that have responded to the call for delegates and have Dakar as a start for preparing a bigger meeting that should take place later. With this, the transportation of one delegate per each of the African groups that had responded to the call for delegates and conference material, the bill came down to 7500Euros. Breath taking change but still a sum we were not close to with the above donations.
Our inability to raise enough funds to cover the transport cost of the african delegates to this point had discourage our European delegates who had volunteered to pay their transport to Dakar to help with running workshops. All of them cancelled plans to participate in the conference.
Meanwhile Tarbaby from Berlin had brought us in contact with, and was helping us with an application at a Berlin based foundation (umverteilung).
On Febraury 17th Umvertilung called to state they had agreed to pay the flight of 5 delegates. It was a moment of great joy and the begining of a new face of the whole conference preparation. It meant running helta sketa to clear things with the traveling Agency for tickets; flight space and how to deliver tickets to the African delegates. Calling the African delegates to alert them about where to go pick their tickets and organising visas. The visa process was made a lot easier by the invitations prepared by the University of Dakar organised by Nebe, Maurine and Micheala from Switzerland.
Next was to check-up where the African delegates will stay during the conference,food and conference material in the frame of what we had like funds.
Rafael from imc-Canaries had posted an article on the site that he and Aziz from Imc-Estrecho where in Dakar. We took immediate contact with Aziz to organise lodging, meeting the Conference delegates from the airport, organsing space for conference as well as checking the cost of feeding.
So, there we were with visas and flight of the African delegates as well as their logging but this time no experienced imc activists to run the indymedia workshops.
The IGAP facilitator(I) could not make the trip as earlier planned for technical reasons. The $1500 provided by IGAP for the facilitator was made avaliable to two activists from IMC Germany(Trez and Sven) known for their experience in running workshops on self organized usage of information, media and technology for emancipatory movements. Trez and Sven added the extra money needed to make up the cost for both of them to travel to Dakar for the indymedia Conference.
Chrisi and Andrea from the Anti-racist network in Germany participated in the organising and cordinating as well as took part in Dakar. Chrisi in particular carried some of the donated materials from Germany as well as was the Busar in Dakar.
The comrades from memenet who had been on tour since November-2003 from Andulusia Spain as well as Julien-IMC-CH where at the forefront of the last minutes rounding-up in Dakar that made the Conference happen the way it did.
There were also some contacts by activists leaving in Senegal and Mali which were with the help of Rafael from imc-Canaries. These activists as well got involved in running of conference.
D.)-EQUIPMENT FOR CONFERENCE
Other than the small needs like pens, pencils, empty disc which were bought in Dakar the following went as follows:
-Before the conference the discussion on access to information on indymedia by people based in places where there is very less internet connectivity brought the discussion on indymedia handbook back on the Agenda. The content was discussed in imc-print and Dr.Blimfeld from imc-print volunteered to do the layout . Dr.Blimfeld further used his contacts and know-how in the printing profession to put us in contact with the known left printers Hedonistspress.
IGAP paid the cost of the first printing. Though the soft copy of the book was avaliable at the conference, 37copies sent to the conference got lost in the post.
-Indymedia Germany donated 2 MD players with three packs of Mini-disc for the conference. At the end of the Conference one of the MD players was donated to the student group from the conference focusing their activity on Radio, and the other MD player was donated to the forming IMC Senegal group.
The first part of the conference from 1st to 7th March 2004 focussed on outreach and socialising in Dakar via university students, Dakar based NGOs, Senegal based activists and Media Activists from neigbouring Mali. The second part of the conference was from 7th to 14th march 2004 at Entss Ecole Dakar. A real life meeting, the activists getting to know some of the persons behind the Internet personas .
+The Brainstorming focussed on :
Indymdia in the African context.
-Creative use of existing instruments of communication in Africa
-Exposing delegates to new computer technology developments that could be used to improve the present state of things via internet, film/video, radio,text editing socio cultural animation.
-Community media tool
-self empowerment tool-non herarchy
-continued action after event
-Appropriation by mainstream media capitalist
-Redistribution of power + wealth
-Anti-globalisation Anti-Capitalism movement
+The workshops gave more inside on :
- Tactical media - "self organised usage of information, media and technology for emancipatorian movments"
1. community media and alternativ media / tactical media
history and goals
cooperation, communication, decission-making
3. self empowerment / appropriation of ...
emancipatorian usage of ... / self- appropriation of ...
- mail and mailinglist (international communication)
- web (open publishing)
- radio (fm, pirate radio and webradio)
- video (alternative video productions)
- encryption: anonymiser, pgp/gnupg
- reclame the internet!
- internet as a public space
- other social spaces
F.)-FINANCIAL REPORT ON DAKAR
+The transport of the African delegates as per response by the call for delegates was as follows:
3*South Africa = 877*3= 2631 Euro
3*Ambazonia=750*3= 2250 Euro
1*Congo =1200 Euro
2*Angola =1100*2=2200 Euro
2*Madiaq(Spain and Morocco) = 450 *2=900 Euro
Total cost of tickets = 12,481Euro
We were also seeking 2,519 Euro for conference expensives.
Complete sum needed for conference was 15,000 Euro.
With further discussion it was arrived at having each group send just one delegate to Dakar due to the short time and high cost of plane tickets within Africa.
Total: 5477 Euro
Plus, 533 Euro to cover running cost of conference.
New Conference cost= 6000 Euro
-"umverteilen" a Berlin based foundation paid the traveling agency Reiserfieber the tickets of 5 of the delegates(Floribert,Ofege, Frank,Grace,Gilberto).
-Paypal account transactions from which funds will be moved into bank account for withdraw in cash
Date Name Gross Fee Net Amount
9. Feb. 2004 JS $400,00 USD -$15,90 USD $384,10 USD
5. Feb. 2004 DK $12,00 USD -$0,77 USD $11,23 USD
4. Feb. 2004 AB $5,00 USD -$0,50 USD $4,50 USD
4. Feb. 2004 NT $50,00 CAD -$2,50 CAD $47,50 CAD
5. Mar. 2004 JS $65,00 USD -$2,84 USD $62,16 USD
8. Mar. 2004 AG \x8049,00 EUR -\x802,26 EUR \x8046,74 EUR
9. Mar. 2004 ZK \xA350,00 GBP -\xA32,15 GBP \xA347,85 GBP
-Bank account transactions from Paypal account
Date Name Gross Fee Net Amount
19. Feb. 2004 Bank Account -\x80305,48 EUR -\x801,00 EUR -\x80306,48 EUR
19. Feb. 2004 Bank Account -\x8026,66 EUR -\x801,00 EUR -\x8027,66 EUR
9. Mar. 2004 Bank Account -\x80114,80 EUR -\x801,00 EUR -\x80115,80 EUR
6. Mar. 2004 Bank Account -\x8048,02 EUR -\x801,00 EUR -\x8049,02 EUR
Overall from the bank we got as withdral from our paypal account 498.96EUR
-Direct Bank transactions
.Fredi from reggaeneration band group (fundraiser for Rothilfe). Donated the sum of 40 EU.
.IMC-Nantes donated 50EUR to the bank account of which on reduction of Bank charges we received 43EUR.
.The Dutch foundation XminusY
donated 2500EUR of which on reduction of bank charges we got 2493,50EUR
From direct donation to the Bank account we got
Overall funds: 498.96+2576.5=3075.46EUR
-1 Ticket for Kenya plus visa fees for two delegates 1150 EUR
-For updating ticket plus money for long transit in Lisbon for Angolan Delegate =245 EUR
-For update of ticket of DRCongo Delegate=80EUR
-Tickets for two network delegates to help run workshops in Dakar.
.$1500 paid by IMC Urbana Champaigna (IGAP stipend for facilitator)
.Extra money to make up the cost of the ticket of the above two activist from imc-Germany who helped run workshops was 200 EUR
-Transport to Berlin and back to wrap up preparation with two delegates from imc-Germany before they left for Dakar 173EUR
- Miscellaneous; fax to Senegalese consulates in Africa, transportation to traveling agency to sort tickets, calls from Call centre to Senegalese consulates etc= 230.46EUR
-Bill before Dakar =1150+245+80+200+173+230.46=2078.46 EUR
-Christi\x92s list of expenditure in Dakar
-670Euros for appartment for delegates
-3500 CFA Breakfast Tuesday
-10,000 CFA Meal Tuesday
-6000 CFA Aziz Taxi
-5500 CFA Insecticides
-2100 CFA Chloride and nettoyages pour plates
-900 CFA Bus
-6000 CFA Meal for delegates
-8,000 CFA Meal for delegates Wednesday
-25,000 CFA Meal for delegates plus extras(3days).
-15,000 CFA Breakfast for delegates
-5000 CFA Kitchen stuff
-10,000 CFA Breakfast Thursday
-4800 CFA Media Caf\xE9 for internet-workshop
-8000 CFA Dinner Thursday
-15000 CFA Food Friday
-5000 CFA Breakfast Saturday
-10,000 CFA Dinner
-8000 CFA Breakfast
-5000 CFA Launch
-5000 CFA Evening Meal
-8000 CFA Taxi in the end
-40,000 CFA for appartment for the extra days
-Total of Christi\x92s bill in Euros=997EUR
-$100 from Houston for tansportation of delegates to visit Goree Island.
G.)- POINTS TO NOTE ABOUT DAKAR CONFERENCE
1-Lots of decisions and organising had to be done in the last minute which was very stressful and expensive as much of this was cordinated by phone, in this case expensive long distance calls. This though the discussion on the conference had been going on for 8 months. The following may be more successfully handled if their planning starts a lot earlier ; lodging, food, tickets of delegates and conference material.
2- It turned-out most of the delegates did not take part actively in the joined kitchen and responsibility for the joined space. It turned-out most of the delegates do not have any experience or knowledge of how this kind of projects run thus in the future it may be good to take this into consideration and clarify the process of this kind of organising to future delegates so they could actively participate in running the conference and socialising with other delegates, and thus create a team and intergrated atmosphere.
3-The whole process of logistics was not clearly and precisely decided prior to the conference thus leaving a situation where different decisions were made on the same issue at the same time which created a very confusing and tense atmosphere sometimes during the conference.
It will be necessary to try to spell a good structure to that before the conference starts.
4-There was no specific spelling out of indymedia rules and proceduce of how to do things like fundraising, press releases and other public presentations on behalf of indymdia in an indymedia project. The results was that the activists who joined the Conference project without an indymedia experience at a global or local level surely unknowingly brought in processes that contradicted network processes. The reaction of activists with indymedia network experience in attempts to make sure network rules were applied sometimes led to very strong exchanges that in the whole threatened the entire project.
Overall Dakar took us one big step up the stage of bring indymedia to African communities. We have to learn from the experience and do things better next time.
1-Tools like the internet in the case of Africa can only serve to link the African communities to others arround the world, to inform people about the struggles and life in
Africa. With hardly the resources for basics like food and shelter it is not
practical to image that the internet can serve the African indymedia in the same
way it did to indymedias in Europe or North America.The Internet can also serve
to connect crucial information hubs inside of the continent, which is to say
improving the information flows between groups in different states and regions
2-In Africa one would have to use what is valiable in the community as
communication tools to carry out the task of bring the daily life struggles
within the community to the members of the communities. In this respect there
were talks of theatre and other socio-cultural animations.
3-Sharing technical knowledge with the African activists in the building and use
of technology that can serve the African indymedias like radio; in this case the
typical activists radio which comprise a transmitter, a microphone, and two tape
recorders for editing the programs. This can further be coupled with the quickly
developing wireless networks to create a very effective communication tool that
can have immense effects on the Communities, as the mobile technology could be
used to \x93feed\x94 radio programs/shows. Thus the making and distribution of their
own news/information from without the controlled media infrastructure.
4-There is also the need to share experience with African indymedia on the use
of tools that have been used by other indymedias effectively and that could also
be used in Africa without any trouble like video-screening.
One month after the conference the devlopments have been encouraging. Indymedia
Ambazonia(Ex-British Cameroon) is into new mobilisation and outreach in
application of experiences gathered from the Conference. The forming Indymedia
group in Kenya is into the same process as well intensifying and leading the
discussions within the local group and at the level of the indymdia africa list
on alternative tools for use by indymedia collectives in Africa. The Kenya group
is as well engaged in networking with local struggles in issues like
exploitation of the communities by large fish companies, HIV/AIDS, child labor,
wife inheritance, female genital mutilation, community dignity and self-esteem,
family values, gender victories (triumphs of village women groups) and music as
a positive force.The Indymedia forming group in Angola is also into a speedy
process of establishing themselves as an approved member of the indymedia
network as they now better understand what that all means. The same news is
coming from the side of the forming indymedia group in DRCongo.
These whole developments and information on these developments in the indymedia
Africa list has also jump-started the process of forming an indymedia in Mali
which was virtually death some months back.
-From the discussions on the network as mentioned above Dakar was to be also used to
prepare for another bigger conference later. Nairobi-Kenya came up as an option for the next meeting. Also the Angolan delegates expressed their interest to be host to such a meeting.
- Someone brought up an idea to have a caravan and range of
workshops accross the 11 southern African.
-In Novemeber 2005 there is going to be the second part of the UN organised WSIS conference in Tunis-Tunisia. The experience of the past have shown that after all the good sounding proclamations from the prep groups such meetings have always ended-up producing frames that have worked for the interest of a few big cooperations. This time with WSIS the issue of software patent is high in the agenda. Thus activists from around the world will try to organised a counter conference and it will be a chance to have african activists together with activists from other parts of the world involved in such a project. Already IMC-Beruit had indicated that they will like to participate in a Conference like Dakar if it takes place somewhere around North Africa.
Thus we will probably hold a meeting sometime in March 2005 somewhere in Africa in which we\x92ll amongst other things deal with preparations for the counter WSIS Conferecne (we sieze II)Tunis.
- 05 May 2004
* workshop 2rd pic:
- Dakar uni-student radio grp trying out-out equipt :
- one of the evening plenary sessions :