In his opening remarks, TrustAfrica Programmes Director Briggs Bomba emphasised that the voices and experiences articulated at ASM Baraza will form part of a critical action taking place at a watershed cusp in time. Critical, because while the world and the context of normal has shifted, it is the deliberate progressive acts of change makers such as social movement leaders that will ensure that all sections of African society are included and represented.
“It takes collective action and energy to ensure that another world is possible. We are currently living in a turning point in world history, where we are confronted with a confluence of multiple crises. We have a “perfect package” of crises that makes it impossible for things to continue the way they are. This also means that this is a moment where we have to search for solutions and define a new pathway towards a more just, free and sustainable society.’ Briggs Bomba of TrustAfrica
The convening had four objectives set before it: creating space for inter-generational experience-sharing and mutual learning; facilitating a space for conversation between movement leaders and funding partners to explore challenges and opportunities; to inform how funding can more effectively support movement-building, providing an opportunity for critical skills exchange between movement leaders; and strategising on the development of a pan-African framework of support to social movements.
Through vibrant chants and slogans, such as ‘Manje’ (from Southern Africa) and ‘Joboyi Heyi! (from Ghana), the business of the ASM Baraza got underway with a programme of workshops, panels and townhalls whose topics included Politics and Democracy, Economic Justice as well as Energy, Climate and Just Transitions. Through these, participants interacted with the diversity of voices and contributed to the transformed narrative for the future of social movements.
‘ASM Baraza showed the intersection between governance, the political economy, the climate crisis, environmental issues and economic justice. From here, we as social movement actors can take these conversations to grassroots, which is where we are able to address the tensions between the national and regional social movement and the grassroots movements. We should also challenge the ways we can include everyday citizens, who are not part of an outfit, to form part of the movement whether as farmers or as traders.’ Ikal Angelei from Friends of Lake Turkana
A unique component of this meeting was the integration of the arts as an enabler of the process of change. The contributions of Soundz of the South and Serah Chule of African Harvesters played an integral role in the unframing and reframing of the future of social movements. This was coupled with participants’ own creative expression through guided activities that formed a part of the programme over each of the three days. The importance of creative enablers was seen through the contributions of participants who are active in the arts, such as musician Killa Ace and photojournalist Boniface Mwangi. The second day of the ASM Baraza was concluded with a dinner where participants were treated to a performance by award-winning southern African artist Berita, whose performance included the song ‘Phakama Africa’ (Rise Africa), which is a call for the continent and her people to rise to their rightful place of leadership and influence in the world.
‘Social activists exist because of the problems in our countries, and we agitate, deliver petitions, protest, read letters as means of tackling toward solutions, only to find that the people that we elect fail us. Therefore, there's a need for activists and human rights defenders to turn their social movements into political movements. We must agitate for political power. Kwame Nkrumah said, seek ye the political kingdom first, and I believe a social activist must seek the political kingdom and fix our country for better, our more equal, more just and more human Africa. The way to get that happening is through political power.’ Boniface Mwangi
In an expression of solidarity, the supporters and participants of the event collectively committed their efforts toward fulfilling the objectives of the ASM Baraza, which will keep the flames of transformation alive in their own communities and beyond. Donors and grantmakers who were in attendance gained priceless insights that informed their strategies and implementation frameworks, enabling them to be effective partners in the process.
‘We are living in a historic moment to build the new. And it is in this moment that movements must gather to identify the strategies, models and necessary actions to create change. I’m glad that the ASM Baraza is one of these spaces where movements have come together to face the challenges together.’ Tyler Hauger from Karibu
‘Wallace Global Fund is honoured to support the 2nd ASM Baraza, building solidarity and collective action for transformation change fuelled by people power. This is the most consequential decade for Africa and requires bold, deep and long-term support from philanthropy willing to do it differently and urgently.’ Ellen Dorsey from Wallace Global Fund
The objectives of the Baraza were fulfilled though the recommendations collated in the process of the programme. These included the decommercialisation of social justice, transformation of the projectisation of movements, enhancing the political clarity of movements and deepening of accountability practices within movements and their communities. To enable continuity and fulfillment of expectations, TrustAfrica has dedicated resources that will work with participants to distill action points from the final report and finding collaborative ways of building on elements of those points alongside movements. This work will begin in the first quarter of the new year, taking the form of a convening with funders who will be more informed to support African social movements. Though your participation of the survey, we will be equipped to frame the areas that you would like to prioritise and maintain progress on.