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Call for Volunteers - WSF2006 Bamako

For this sixth edition, the WSF will be polycentric, taking place simultaneously in Bamako (Mali - Africa), Caracas (Venezuela – South America) and Karachi (Pakistan - Asia)

In Africa the WSF will be held from January 19 to 23 2006 in Bamako (Mali).

Over the past years the WSF has set up a more participative and more inclusive process. From the defining of the program to the organization of the event, the aim of the « World Social Territories » is to develop interaction between the actors, participation in the processes and the emergence of alternatives. This process does not just affect the debates and ideas but also the entire process of setting up the Forum. The organization of the 2006 WSF in Bamako will reflect this alternative decision making process, especially concerning the choice of languages used during the forum.

The peoples’ voices.

No human group has ever grown by belittling and setting aside its own original culture and language. The powers that be, especially in the international institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the WTO etc however claim the opposite, by imposing not only economic, social and political dogmas, but by doing it in the languages of the colonizers.

There is no such thing as a minor language, nor is there a language that cannot translate or to express the various concepts. But the on the other hand there is a clear will to submit the peoples of the world to « obvious » neoliberal concepts.

The FSM is a space that aims at sharing analyses, to bear witness to the struggles, to seek and clarify the existing alternatives to the iron law that prevails everywhere in the world. To carry out these ideas, to make them live and grow in the various societies, it is necessary to be able to express these ideas and debate them in these various cultures of the world and therefore in their own language.

Translating, a political act.

Translation is thus first and foremost a political act whose aim it is to allow the existence and the reclaiming not only of the various analyses that are made within and outside the alter-globalization movement, but also the solutions that are being worked out to answer the problems affecting our present day societies. Therefore, the WSF cannot limit itself to the use of the « major » language imposed by the various colonizers and carried on by those who hold power.

For the past few years a new translation process has been set up so that the social Forums are not restricted any more to three or four imposed languages (linguistic colonialism usually hiding itself behind « practical reasons ») and the forums now freely use over a dozen languages. We want to take advantage of the Bamako WSF to strengthen this process and open it up to the various African national languages. We want to foster the taking into account of true cultural diversity, in order to present an alternative to the established standard situation imposed by the different powers, wherever they hail from.

Volunteering for the future.

The volunteers who offer their expertise (many of them being professional translators and interpreters who normally make their living out of this activity) do not do this out of charity. They do not want to set up an « alternative translation market » or a « cheap » translation service. They are fully aware that they are planting the seeds of a new type of organization that will benefit everyone in the future and, by putting the accent on the importance of the variety of languages translated as well as the quality of the translation service, they are benefiting their own trade and helping develop local vocations and networks. Since 2002, thousands of volunteers have already come together in this spirit during the various social forums.

Only by empowering our own languages will we be able to develop true alternatives to the imposed solutions that the free-market dogmatists try to press upon Africa and the rest of the world. Only if we speak our own languages will we be able to make another world possible. As Gandhi said « How can you let your heart speak if you have forgotten it’s language, the one you sucked from your mother’s breast? »

We are looking for volunteers.

WHAT LANGUAGES WILL BE USED DURING THE BAMAKO WSF? The choice of languages will depend on the needs expressed by the organizers and the participants. Nevertheless, the forum has decided to specifically insist on the African languages: we are therefore looking for volunteers able to interpret from or to BAMBARA, WOLOF, SWAHILI, HAUSSA, and ARABIC among others.

As for the European languages, French will be the main language followed by English as well, to a lesser extent, Portuguese and Spanish.

WORKING CONDITIONS: FLEXIBILITY IS A MUST! The working conditions will be particular for a very simple reason: lack of financial means and very tight timescale. This call for volunteers is a good example of it – we only just received the information allowing to send it out, only a month before the forum.

People who volunteer for this forum must therefore be prepared to improvise and to take responsibilities that go beyond the mere task of conference interpreting. If you’ve been to London ESF, to Mumbay or Porto Alegre WSF, it will be nothing like it… on the other, it is going to be far more exciting than just sitting in a booth and speaking in a microphone.

LIMITED BUDGET MEANS LIMITED PLANE TICKETS: The actual budget of the WSF only allows for about 20 plane tickets, this includes the technical team that will bring and set up the equipment – also on a voluntary base. But the interpretation needs during the forum will be much higher.

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS WHO ARE IN BAMAKO OR WHO ARE COMING THROUGH ANOTHER ORGANISATION - We will therefore have to find people that are already in Bamako or who are coming to the WSF through other organizations.

If that is your case, please sign up very quickly by going to http://registration.babels.org and clicking on the FSM Bamako link.

If you are member of an organization that plans to send a number of people to Bamako, please enquire if it would be possible for them to either add someone to their delegation who can interpret in the language they are going to use or to fund the ticket of a interpreter.

PLAN TO COME EARLIER: We will be in Bamako a couple of days before the WSF starts. Please try to be there at least two days before the 19th to help with the setup and so we can get to know each other better.

FOSTERING THE EMERGENCE OF AFRICAN NETWORKS FOR TRANSLATION AND INTERPRETATION. We want to push the setting up of networks in Africa around the language issue (interpretation, translation and alternative equipment) in order to start a process linking the Bamako 2006 WSF with the Nairobi 2007 WSF.

We want to identify, through initiatives in Kenya, Senegal and Mali – a number of concerned actors that could come to Bamako from January 15 to 24, not only to work as interpreters, but also to meet and exchange their experience with other people present. Bamako would thus be the first step on a common road to Nairobi, in 2007.

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