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Babels will not organize WSF in Nairobi
Letter sent to the International Council (IC) of the WSF
(Date: 13 December 2006)
This year Babels will not be taking responsibility for the interpreting at the WSF. As members of the IC, we feel it only right to explain why this decision was taken.
Since the creation of the Babels network, we have consistently fought for certain principles. These are:
We have fought to be recognised as part of the process, and not perceived as service providers.
Being an activist also means learning to say no, even if this is painful.
The Babels project of working towards Nairobi was born in Bamako, after the end of the polycentric WSF. In fact there were various people from Kenya present, and we are fully aware that Bamako has always been an important stage in the African process
For a variety of reasons, there was a breakdown in communication between the Kenyan OC and Babels.
The result of this was that the KOC decided to take responsibility for the interpreting project. This is something they are fully entitled to do, and indeed local ownership and coordination are always necessary.
We are also aware that an African WSF needs first and foremost to mobilise Africans including within Babels. Which is why some of our African Babelistas were already working on using training material to prepare new volunteers.
But for a Babels project to be viable, a certain time-frame and co-operation are necessary. Even if money is not available, tickets can be prebooked two or three months in advance, and paid for a month before travel. Tickets and accommodation are the heaviest expense post and consequently need forward planning. Not many volunteers can pay for their own tickets and accommodation.
So rather than leap into a contradictory last-minute approach that would almost certainly end in poor results and blame all round, we decided that we would not - could not - take responsibility for the organisation or planning.
As part of the process, we are making our know-how available to the interpreting committee, and also informing the network so that individual members who choose to help and offer their time and energy can contribute to the Nairobi WSF.
We have sent the following message to all those in our network who had expressed interest in Nairobi:
"You said you were interested in the next WSF in Nairobi, Kenya, January 2007. Please read carefully what follows:
It is not the first time a Forum will be held without Babels, and hopefully we can all learn from what has happened to move forward collectively and continue our fight for another world that remains possible only if we all work in solidarity.
In spite of our "absence" from the WSF, we hope that the event is a success.
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