Dreaming futures beyond extractivism

Dreaming futures beyond extractivism School on Extractivism cover pages to jpg 0001

Asoze Saphela Amandla
Asoze Saphela Amandla
Eli lilizwe lamaksikazi
Asoze Saphela Amandla
(We will not lose energy; we will stay focused
This society/ This world belongs to the women)

Dreaming Futures Beyond Extractivism

This is the song that is reverberating in the room where we as WoMin, along with other organisations and movements hosted its first political school on the history, logic and impact of extractivism in South Africa. The school brought together 40 Activists from across South Africa, resisting various forms of extractivism from mega agriculture, industrial fishing to mining and various other mega extractive projects, came together for 5 days to share their experiences, build solidarity across their struggles, build a systemic understanding of their experiences rooted in an understanding of extractivism and promote and share possibilities of alternatives. This school is an important strategy in building and supporting movements across the country resisting extractivism.

We developed a methodology for the school that was feminist, participatory and emphasised activists sharing their experiences and knowledge, inputs from various activist scholars and researchers around certain topics, engaging in groups, watching videos and reading materials collated into a course pack.

It was a rich and challenging process. Every morning we would meet outside in the garden and begin with a mystica. On the first morning the activists from Namakwaland shared objects that represent extractivism. This was a powerful moment in which communities not only shared about the areas in which they come from but shared their knowledge and experience about the impacts of mining by showing us the various minerals and metals that are mined and what they are used for. We would start every morning signing struggle songs and sharing their various meanings.

We had activists share their experiences resisting extractivism. Young people from Amadiba Crisis Committee shared the importance of political education and alternatives in raising consciousness and building the support of the community to resist the mining of titanium and seismic testing on their coast. Small-scale farmers shared the challenges they experienced in terms of industrial agriculture encroaching on their land and the impacts climate change has had on the agroecological methods as well as the importance of seed-saving. Fisher communities shared the impact that drilling for oil and gas will have on the ocean and the ability to sustain their livelihoods. Women from Marikana shared how they continue to be brutalised by new mining companies expanding onto their communities and the violence and repression they continue to experience when resisting these companies or attempting to hold them accountable.

This school was attended largely by women leading resistance in their communities. While many of the women come from different parts of the country, they were surprised to learn about the similarity of their experiences as women in carrying the load and impact of extractivism. It was important to see activists being able to identify the commonalities and threads between the struggle in order to unify movements and resistance throughout the country and begin to understand the impact beyond South Africa.

We were all challenged to begin to imagine what the alternatives to an extractive model of development would look like and how we begin to build and fight for these alternatives now. We discussed strategies on how to strengthen our movements, learning from each other’s experiences and developed a plan to strengthen and build the Right2SayNo campaign.

It was clear that communities want to stand together and there was an appetite in the school to build resistance and strengthen the campaigns and movements on the ground.

Author: Alexandria Hotz

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