Fahamu’s advocacy work aims to support human rights and social justice movements by promoting the innovative use of information and communications technologies and by stimulating debate, discussion and analysis.
Strengthening the Civil Society Perspective Series II: China and Other Emerging Powers in Africa
The Emerging Powers in Africa Initiative commissioned four research policy reports in June 2010 following the successful completion of the first round of commissioned reports that was undertaken in 2009, culminating in an electronic publication available on the Fahamu website. Understanding that attention towards China’s deepening engagement with Africa should not overshadow the activities of other emerging powers in Africa, including India,Russia, Brazil and South Africa, the four research policy reports sought to develop an African perspective by strengthening the civil society voice in the discourse surrounding the engagement between Africa and these emerging powers.
To this end, the research projects were themed around comparative African perspectives on China and other emerging powers in Africa by providing seed funding to African civil society organisations and activists to undertake research that can contribute to the emerging scholarship on the footprint of the emerging actors in Africa. The completed research reports are available here
China-Africa Trade and Economic Relationship: Annual Report 2010
A report by the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, in cooperation with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, provides an overview of Sino-Africa trade and economic data for 2009 and provides an outlook for relations in 2010. The report is available here.
Strengthening the civil society perspective: China’s African impact
The Fahamu Emerging Powers in Africa Programme held a two-day workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2009 that brought together over 30 Chinese and African academics, researchers and activists to debate and discuss the outcomes of the fourth Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that took place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from 8-9 November 2009. During the workshop discussions focused on the six commissioned research reports that the programme made available to nurture the CSO perspective on the Africa-China engagement. Using the FOCAC Summit outcomes as an anchor, participants deliberated on an appropriate framework within which the CSO perspective needs to address the varied impact of China’s footprint in Africa. The completed research reports and workshop summary are available here.
Promoting a multisectoral approach to the Protocol on women’s rights
SOAWR in collaboration with the AU Women, Gender and development Directorate and UNIFEM have concluded in Kigali, Rwanda a stakeholders’ meeting on the implementation of the AU Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. The meeting brought together representatives of government and CSOs from 14 of the 27 countries that have ratified the Protocol.
The purpose of the meeting was to support governments to implement the Protocol. The multi-sectoral implementation framework developed by UNIFEM was introduced to the participants as a useful tool for institutionalising commitment on women’s rights accross all sectors of government, thereby accelerating delivery on. Participants adopted country specific plans for promoting its adoption.
New radio drama
Through the Media for Women’s Rights campaign, a component of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights coalition, Fahamu and FEMNet partnered with CMFD to produce a 6 part radio drama, Crossroads, on the African Women’s Rights Protocol. The drama launched in Kibera, Nairobi, aims to popularize the Protocol and is available in English and Kiswahili with Portuguese and French versions forthcoming.
Direct Action Training
As Kenya was plunged into violence following the contested elections in December 2007, Fahamu sought to support independent, progressive voices in Kenya. Fahamu became actively engaged in the Kenyans for Peace through Truth and Justice coalition. In particular, Fahamu-Kenya became involved in the Direct Action Training workshops initiated by activist and artist Shailja Patel in April 2008 in response to the needs expressed by coalition members, for skills, tools, and information that would empower them as activists. The primary aim of the workshops was to share the tools and ideas that will empower participants to organize, strategize and mobilize, as individuals, and collectively, around local and national issues as they arise. With the support of a New Tactics in Human Rights grant, Fahamu-Kenya is now collaborating with Bunge la Mwananchi (the people’s parliament) to train grassroots activists on effective advocacy with the aim of supporting them to lead similar workshops in local communities.
Campaigning on the African women’s rights protocol
Fahamu joined Solidarity with African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), a collation of 30 women’s and international organisations, in 2004 to promote the ratification of the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. Fahamu offered the pages of Pambazuka News and technological support to the coalition to raise public awareness about the protocol across the continent and to help women bring pressure on their governments to adopt the protocol. Within 15 months, the campaign had succeeded: 15 countries had ratified the protocol, enabling it to come into force across Africa.
More recently, Fahamu has also been active in the outreach and communication for the SOAWR campaign by launching their new website – www.soawr.org.
Media and Women’s Rights project
In collaboration with the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), Fahamu has established a collaborative network of community radio stations, radio journalists and cartoonists to develop a range of radio plays, current affairs broadcasts and the publication of cartoon books on the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which will be disseminated in west and east Africa (in the first instance). Fahamu has run training programmes in eastern, southern and west Africa to enable grassroots community organisations to learn the relatively easy technologies of podcasting and videocasting so that they can produce socially relevant programmes of their own. This will be developed further in collaboration with the Media for Women’s Rights Network (15 organisations from west and central Africa).
Mobile phones for social justice
Fahamu has used innovative technologies, including SMS (text messaging by mobile phone) as a means of promoting public awareness of social justice issues in Africa. The use of these technologies has been particularly appropriate given the spread of mobile technology on the African continent and the fact that, as communications devices, they have leapfrogged non-existent telephony infrastructure, opening up the potential for communicating with new audiences.
African Union Monitor
In May 2005 Fahamu established the African Union Monitor. This website and associated electronic mailing list aims to strengthen the ability of civil society organisations to engage constructively with the African Union (AU) and its organs in the interests of promoting justice, equity and accountability through the provision of high-quality and timely information. The initiative arose from the evident concern amongst African civil society organisations about the massacres in Darfur and the possibility of the Khartoum government of Sudan assuming the presidency of the African Union. This successful initiative has proved popular at subsequent African Union summits, and has since become an arena for analysis and discussion of AU policy.
Much commentary on China in Africa has focused on the vested interests of the West; lost in the debate have been the voices of independent African analysts. In 2007 Fahamu launched the book African Perspectives on China in Africa and helped organise a meeting in Shanghai between African and Chinese civil society organisations. The papers from that conference were published in 2008 under the title China’s New Role in Africa and the Global South. Pambazuka will continue to monitor the effects on the environment and sustainability of livelihoods as China and other economic giants become increasingly influential in Africa. Fahamu plans to publish regular Chinese language issues of Pambazuka News, with articles, from Chinese academics and civil society actors. We will do this with a range of partners including China Development Brief, China Academy for the Social Sciences, Moving Mountains (a Chinese civil society organisation) and AFRODAD.
Fahamu’s China and Africa programme gave a presentation entitled Africa and the Emerging Powers from the South: China and India at UCT Summer School on 27th January 2009.
Blogs for African women
Technologies tend to amplify social differences. As internet use expands in Africa, so existing gender inequalities are likely to disadvantage women’s access to ICTs. In response, Fahamu has launched a pilot project to enable young African women to run their own online blogs.
Freedom of information
Fahamu has run a distance-learning course, Campaigning for Access to Information, for 15 media activists in Africa. It has cooperated with ARTICLE 19 and with the Kenya chapter of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya) to develop awareness about freedom of information and encourage policy makers to participate in developing appropriate legislation. The course was influential in enabling ICJ Kenya to prepare a freedom of information bill for the Kenyan parliament.
Lens on Lebanon
Lens on Lebanon is an international grassroots documentary initiative formed during the Israeli bombardment of 2006. By providing equipment, technical training and artistic support through collaborative workshops with local and international filmmakers, photographers and artists, the project allows the people of Beirut and south Lebanon to creatively document their experiences in the shadow of war.
Lens on Lebanon wins British Council award
At a ceremony in London on 14 October, the Director of the British Council’s Visual Arts department announced the presentation of the inaugural International Young Visual Arts Entrepreneur (IYVAE) award of £7,500 to Lens on Lebanon, represented by the local director, Shereen Diab. The citation mentioned the unique and relevant cultural focus of this project working at grassroots level, linked to a real entrepreneurial ability to affect wider social change in Lebanon through art.
Lens on Lebanon: photographic testimonies in the shadow of war has been funded through Fahamu to provide basic training in digital video, photography and mixed media, particularly for groups such as women and young people less prominently represented in the mainstream media.