In May 2012, the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA) held its OpenForum in Cape Town, South Africa (OSISA is an African institution committed to deepening democracy, protecting human rights and enhancing good governance in the region). It was a gathering of brilliant minds, expert practitioners, activists, artists, thinkers, dreamers, movers, and shakers.
"We have decided to swim against the tide, to resist the urge to tie this meeting to a particular outcome…to a particular strategy process, and simply to create the space to talk. And why does this matter? It matters because if we can’t talk across the silos and across the sector divides, then we can’t strategize across these divides either, and if we can’t strategize…then we cannot create our own narrative. The conversation is not focused outward…a conversation focused inward, towards ourselves is much more interesting. This is a conversation that is framed by us because…when a conversation is framed by Africans, the narrative begins in a different place." - Sisonke Msimang, Executive Director of OSISA
With these words, the OpenForum 2012 began. Space was created to discuss all manner of topics under the main headings: Money, Power, and Sex. With panel discussions ranging from ‘Who Will Finance Africa’s Development’ to ‘African Philanthropy’ to ‘Same-sex, Power, and Money: Is the North Still the Ally of Choice for LGBTI Groups?’; from ‘The Arab Uprisings: Spring Revolution or a Summer of Discontent’ to ‘A New Generation of African Artists and Activists’ to ‘Student Mobilization for Social Change: Equal Education and the Chilean Student Movement’; and from ‘Are Women Occupying New Movements’ to ‘The Politics of Sexual Pleasure’ to ‘In Our Own Image: Defining African-ness’, the topics gave rise to lively, heated, and incredibly informative debate. By the end of the OpenForum, all participants were hungry for more: for more time, for more space, for more opportunity to continue dialogue, to exchange ideas, and to strategize.
The short videos in this post offer a glimpse of the sights and sounds at the OpenForum 2012.
If you're new to This Is Africa, also check out the series of radio debates we produced in association with the OpenForum on the question of whether democracy brought blind hope to Africa.
Videos produced and directed by Illume Creative Studio