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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 16:59 GMT
Vibrant 'anti-Davos' makes impact
By Adam Mynott
BBC News, Nairobi

Anti-globalisation activists demonstrate in Nairobi during the World Social Forum
The forum is unfocused but it certainly makes its mark

Wherever it takes place, the World Social Forum can never be accused of being drab.

The tens of thousands of people who have come from all over the world to this year's event in Kenya have embraced that reputation to the full.

A more vibrant, colourful event it would be hard to imagine.

Spread out over a six-hectare site at the Kasarani Stadium, on the Thika Road heading north out of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, this year's World Social Forum is frenetic with activity.

At any moment in the day, from dawn to dusk, any number of groups can be found singing or dancing somewhere on the complex.

Uniquely for a conference of this size and scale, the WSF is not organised as such and does not have a firm daily agenda. It is "self-organised".

Participants put forward plans for debates, demonstrations, dances or musical events and they are allocated somewhere on the complex to take place.


The World Social Forum is in its seventh year. It grew out of the collapsed World Trade Organization talks at the end of the 1990s and a growing feeling that the world was being run "by the rich for the rich".

If the WSF lacks focus, because of the slightly haphazard way its meetings are arranged, increasingly it does not lack impact.

There are more than 60,000 people at the Forum and those numbers could have been much higher if there had been more hotel rooms and other suitable accommodation available in Nairobi.

The presence of four Nobel laureates and other luminaries helps to lend it authority.

The slogan for the World Social Forum is "Another World is Possible".

The thousands who have come to Nairobi are here to discuss a very wide range of topics, including peace and conflict, land ownership, trade, HIV/Aids, poverty, diversity, access to water and many others.

They have no doubt that they are filling a democratic space that many in the developed world have long since abandoned.

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