The African “Core Group” of the Karibu New Realities Grant – together with the Karibu Foundation – welcomed nearly 30 activists and civil society members from across the African continent to a “Learning, Sharing, and Solidarity Gathering” in Kenya this week.

The participants represented groups of change agents (social movements, associations, organizations, cooperatives, collectives, and/or networks) in Sub-Saharan Africa who are undertaking imaginative initiatives that strengthen and add new dimensions to the collective struggle for systemic justice. They represented the bold and forward-looking grantee partners from both Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 of the “Karibu New Realities Grant” – a 2.5 year participatory grantmaking pilot process that has been led and co-designed by African activists and civil society members.

A space to share lessons from struggling for change

The activists and civil society members who gathered in Nairobi are working on a range of topics including environmental justice, gender justice, political participation, disability and youth rights, arts and culture as a form of social action, seed sovereignty, land rights and confronting extractivism, eco-unions, peacebuilding, supporting social movement ecosystems, confronting shrinking space for civil society, and more.

The gathering aimed to provide a safe space for the social change leaders to meet each other, learn from each other, and share lessons of common points of struggle in Africa. Participants shared stories of change, and what contributed to this change.

As part of the co-creation of the program, the participants also explored the intersectionality of these struggles to see how they might have intersection points that contribute to movement building beyond one thematic focus.

The program also included moments to informally build relationships with each other, including spontaneous song and dance, bonfires, tours out in nature with giraffes and zebras, and side conversations over tea as humans all struggling for a more just world.

The struggle for justice continues

In the closing session, participants shared messages of hope and inspiration to each other in their work ahead.

As one participant said as the gathering came to a close, “Solidarity is a powerful force for change.”

Participants now head back to their home contexts to continue their efforts in lifting up alternatives that can confront the political, social, cultural, and environmental crises we are facing.

Photos by Prossy Kawala, CEMCOD Uganda