The WSF march started out with thousands of participants from all over the world – the colors, the sounds and chants and the energy from the gathering was immeasurable. The photos and videos help but do not do justice to capturing the collective energy of chants from French, Wolof (one of the ethnic groups in Senegal) English, Portuguese and many other languages. There were a high number of youth from various organizations, with unbound energy of dancing and chanting as they held up their banners and supported their different organizations, coalitions, campaigns and the movement as a whole.
The March officially started at 1 pm with people gathering near the Grand Mosque of Dakar in the center of the city; from where we marched for approximately 3 miles to the Chiekh Anta Diop University – moving slowly with our banners and chanting along the way.
There were a high number of securities visible, intermittently along the march route. They stood, in full riot gear along the roads, smiling and responding to our greets as we moved along. This, from what our Senegalese friends tell us, is unusual. Dakar is a city that does not have visible presence of police and security all over (unlike many other capital cities within African nations). The analysis from our Senegalese friends is that there is added tension on the part of the government and President Wade that the mass protests may contribute to local groups jumping on this opportunity to start similar demands as Tunisians and Egyptians.
Conditions of mass people’s protests in the two countries and what is happening in Cote d’Ivoire have been much discussed among many activists. The undeniable wave of democratization that is spreading across Africa, particularly in North Africa is clearly encouraging many other countries who have lived under dominant and repressive dominant systems. Participants to the WSF have used different forums of express support and solidarity to their continued resistance with hops that similar initiatives will take place elsewhere in Sub Saharan Africa.
Despite the encouraging beginning of the march and high hopes for the process; there are structural challenges to the WSF process. For example, there are not enough rooms to hold many of the workshops and plenary sessions that have been submitted. The organizers are planning to use tents that have been erected for this purpose, as well as some of the open space within the campus, to hold many of the sessions which have not been designated spaces.
Despite the logistical challenges that’ll be ahead, there is unbound energy and positive approach to ensuring that groups and individuals work together to put forth the best possible programs, make connectives with allies from across the world.