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Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues

Continuing dialogue and building new foundations for relations between Africa and Europe: the core of the Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues project. Inspired by the proposals of the committed young people who took part in the New Africa-France Summit on 8 October 2021 in Montpellier, but also by the conclusions of Achille Mbembe's report, Les nouvelles-relations Afrique-France : relever ensemble les défis de demain (New Africa-France Relations: Meeting Tomorrow's Challenges Together), this series of major events brings together personalities from across Africa and Europe to debate the major issues facing society. 

 

Our Future kicks off in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 7 and 8 October 2022, before a second event in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 1 to 3 December, and a third in Algiers in early February 2023. Six other forums will take place on the African continent in 2023 and 2024. 

For all the partners of these major events, the challenge is to establish an increasingly close dialogue between civil societies in Africa and Europe, in order to create new solutions to the challenges that the two continents are facing together. To this end, the Our Future meetings provide the conditions for free, transparent and peaceful exchanges, geared towards new ideas and methods of cooperation. 

Organised at all stages with numerous organisations from Africa and the Institut français, each Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues forum gives a voice to personalities from all fields, from the host country as well as from the rest of Africa and Europe. Young people from civil society on both continents are given the opportunity to speak. 

In this report, you will find the highlights of each forum and its key figures! 

Achille Mbembe
Partner of the "Our Future - Africa-Europe Dialogues" forum in South Africa
The proximity and historical depth of the relationship between Africa and Europe justifies relaunching dialogue between the two continents on a multiform scale.
Notre futur - Afrique du Sud
Paths of Democracy

Johannesburg - South Africa, 7 and 8 October 2022

Paths to democracy - was the title of the Our Future: South Africa forum, held on 7 and 8 October 2022, on the anniversary of the New Africa-France Summit in Montpellier in October 2021. It brought personalities from every sector (science, associations and NGOs, think tanks, arts and literature) to Johannesburg to debate the major challenges of democracy in Europe and Africa. 

The forum provided an opportunity to exchange views on issues such as participatory democracy, inclusive justice, the opportunities and dangers of digital technology for democracy and new forms of citizen engagement. With the help of the Institut français of South Africa, the debates, performances and events were designed and produced with the event's partners: the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Windybrow and Sibikwa art centres, the University of the Witwatersrand, Play Africa, Poetry Africa, the Soweto Theatre, the Market Lab Theatre, Constitution Hill and Constitutional Court. 

The Forum in figures

28
events
15 conferences, 11 cultural projects, 2 workshops
80 speakers and 32 artists from the African and European continents.

« Democracy, Iphi inkululeko ? »

Actor, director but also writer, Mandisi Sindo looks back to the « Democracy, Iphi inkululeko? » session that took place on 7th October 2022. 

This sequence was composed of a succession of musical moments and rapid oral interventions by experts who were responding to a text by a South African author, Lwando Scott, which explores the links between freedom and democracy. This theme referred to the anti-apartheid activists who fought for access to freedom and who, in response, gained access to democracy. Does democracy, in fact, allow them access to freedom?  This question was applied on an international scale, with the participation of experts from the African and European continents.

Eight panellists from different countries, backgrounds and ages took the stage, one after the other, in a format close to the "TED Talk". Each intervention approached in a fast and dynamic way the concept of democracy from a particular angle, essentially influenced by the respective social and historical contexts. The urgency of applying democratic principles in certain nations and the vitality with which activists are seizing them was felt in the speeches of speakers from South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. European speakers focused on the current challenges as well as the historical foundations of democratic societies.

Three musical groups accompanied the panellists, engaging the audience in a dynamic and unifying way, reminding the place of the public, the citizens and the common in a democratic movement.

South African has a rich history and the music has been part of that deep history. Music shaped who we are as people of this country and the very same music helped the country from the chains of apartheid and oppressions that were experienced by black people at the time. The likes of Hugh Masekela, Mariam Makeba, Sipho Mchunu, Johnny Clegg and others were activist and anti-apartheid musicians and of course there were revolutionaries who fought against the apartheid government and those were the people of colour and different genders including Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela, Steve Biko, Helen Suzman and a lot of others. When these heroes fought and some to touched to death by the apartheid ruling government, they were not just seeking for peace, but they wanted freedom from the chains of slavery. They wanted FREEDOM not what is now presented to the people as DEMOCRACY, hence the session DEMOCRACY, IPH’INKULULEKO? This is a talk and a question that has been raised many times but none in the ANC cabinet is willing to answer the question of Where is the Freedom that was promised in 1994. This issue also led to the Fees and Rhodes Must Fall protests.

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Mandisi Sindo (on the left)

When I was invited to curate these sessions, I did not hesitate but to think of influential, outspoken, and active women and individuals who are coming from the LGBTIQ+ Community whom I knew will bring a constructive argument and will make their voices heard in the African continent as I have seen them experiencing exclusion and not given an opportunity to lead.  I believe that they are powerful enough to give direction and influence nothing but change in Africa. South Africa Zimbabwe and Botswana have experienced oppression like or even more than other African countries and that is why it was crucial to have delegates coming from these countries. Botswana gained its independence in 1966, South Africa gained it in 1961 while Zimbabwe gained independence in 1965. Even though these African countries were declared independent the oppression and slavery never ended. Black man and woman still suffered. Even in the post-apartheid in South Africa blacks are still not free, men and women are still caged, especially women.

When I was looking for someone who will be the writer for the session, I first wanted to have this engagement with young people who are representing different political parties of the country, not for them to push their manifestos but for them to highlight the change they want to see as future leaders of the country and for audiences and attendees to understand what their meaning of Freedom is compared to what we understand as democracy. But unfortunately, we had to take another route. And it was then I decided to look at Lwando Scott who is a Next Generation Scholar for Humanities Research at UWC, his research focuses on what he loosely terms “queering the post colony” as an option to write for this intervention.

Lwando’s talk and writing was a very important one as it looked at the freedom of oneself, the country and of others who are not regarded or not seen as humans also looking at gender and how young, poor, and marginalized black woman’s rights are ignored. Lwando on his writing spoke also about how covid 19 has badly impacted black people, communities, and facilities such as hospitals. It was then he made an example about his cousin who gave birth in the hospital corridors, and this was highlighted in these difficult times of the pandemic. Not only Lwando brought some intense engagement about disregarded people, but the songstress also an African Opera Singer Sibongile Mngoma spoke so much about growing up in the townships and how fearful she was of police dogs during the apartheid. She now compares the fear she had with the one she has with her fellow artists and black people who will sell you out like in the olden days when whites used spies to assassinate and arrest freedom fighters of the time. 

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Lwando Scott

What was amazing about this session was the fact that it had different spaces from different times, backgrounds, educational backgrounds, and ages. The youngest of them all, Khululwa Mthi, who is a strong pan Africanist born in 1994, also raised concerning issues about how Government has kept people as voting cows. The young black people still live in the concentration camps where her parents lived. She also spoke deeply about the traumas such as of miners who were killed at MARIKANA and where widows have never given freedom to speak and voice out how they felt. She also spoke about her involvement in the Fees and Rhodes Must Fall movement, which was founded on 3 pillars black consciousness, Pan-Africanism and black radical feminism.  The fight for decolonization and the fights for gender inclusivity would result in the freedom that black people need, and, in this fight, no one must be left behind. 

She as a young person still experiences high rate of unemployment and when the South African democracy was achieved free education was one of the things that was promised that never came to existence and that is why in 2015 students started to fight for free education till today.

Her strongest points:

  • What is to be done in a country where there are so much rape crisis?
  • An expensive way of understanding and engaging with gender and gender relation needs to be demanded for the better future of South Africa
  • What created the country we live in? As a starting point we need to understand our historical background/foundation. Maybe that is where answers can be found.
  • To Dismantle the racist capitalist patriarchal system, we need to abduct it from the beginning.
  • The system is structural, and it is institutionalized and that makes it difficult to be changed for black and hence it needs to be attacked unapologetically
  •  The fight for freedom post democracy : young people is still fighting for justice.
  • Gender Justice needs to be recognized as freedom for young and black feminists. 
Khululwa Mthi - DT Notre futur
Khululwa Mthi

In closing, the selection of three musical groups that performed on the day was strategic. I personally wanted groups that will spark the conversation and bring out facts through music. Liso The Musician sings about issues that were faced and experienced in the townships and marginalized communities. Her Album Zaf’ingane (Youth Is Dying) was compiled while she was part of the Fees and Rhodes Must Fall protest, her contribution to that struggle was to write music that speak to what is happening to the students and young people in South African who are getting killed, arrested, and raped while fighting for their educational rights. Her famous song POTA POTA is about the lack of service delivery in the townships, speaks about the bucket system that used in the communities which was used in the apartheid days. Iphupho L’ka Biko (Biko’s Dream) is a Pan Africanism musical group that is inspired by Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement ideologies, influences, and interchanges. The group music brings a lot of hope to black society and sings struggle songs that resonates the past of the country, songs of freedom that made people to stand together to fight the apartheid government that kept black people inferior during the apartheid regime. Soweto Spiritual Singers is a unifier, a gospel acapella group that brings all attendees together. The group got the following after their collaboration with the American Musician R-KELLY during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The group unified the audiences by opening the session with the South African Anthem – Nkosi Sikelele iAfrika and after this opening they then sang famous songs that were sang during the apartheid – Not Yet Uhuru by the Legendary Letta Mbuli.

The session went the way I expected it to be. It moved, inspired and empowered audience members who were presented during the seminar. 

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"Voting and Citizen Engagement" at the Soweto Theatre

Dimpho Lekgeu is community manager for the South African organisation YouthLab. She moderated the "Voting and Citizen Engagement" segment on 7 October 2022 at the Soweto Theatre, and gives us feedback on this topic. 

South Africa is a few months away from what many people are calling “the most important election since 1994.” This comes at a time of  growing mistrust between the government and the public and a decline in electoral participation by those eligible to vote. According to the recent National Youth Policy, those within the age group of 15-34 constitute more than a third (34.7%) of the population. At the age of 16, one can register to be a voter then at the age of 18 one is eligible to vote. The Mail & Guardian recently reported that South Africa has witnessed a decline in voter turnout across age groups in every subsequent election after the landmark 1994 national elections, including, of more concern, among the youth. This conversation on youth civic participation and re-positioning young people to be the drivers of democracy couldn’t have come at a more pertinent time. 

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  • 1. Apathy or Frustration?

In the 2021 local election nearly 1.8-million eligible 18-19-year-olds decided against registering to vote while registration rates among the 20-29 age group have also declined since the 2016 local government elections. This is often attributed to a lack of political interest by young people who are often criticized for not showing enough interest in issues of governance. But this has been proven to be untrue. As one of the panelists Jamal Tsotesti puts it, “Issues affecting young people within democracy are universal and not limited to a certain country. It’s not democracy if young people are disenfranchised and misrepresented. 

  • 2. Electoral reform

The conversation also explored electoral reform and re-imagining new ways to elect and hold public officials accountable. Young people have opted out of institutionalized processes of democratic participation and are commanding new ways of political expression. Activist and political commentator Tessa Dooms says that ‘’the bulk of youth activism occurs in campaigns and movements targeted at reforming institutional policies and processes, such as the #fallist movements.” This means that we must find ways to recognize young people and their alternative forms of political expression. 

  • 3. Digitalization

Panelists held different views on how democracy can find expression digitally. While Siyabulela Jentile remarked that much of the conversation in South Africa is still much about using social and digital media to make civic education more accessible, panelists also explored the opportunities and threats of taking voting systems online and using digital technology to help local government collect data that would enable them to better deliver essential services in communities. Saskia Postema, lecturer at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University, presented part of a research study looking into the ways social media influencers and celebrities can influence young people’s decision to vote and who to vote for based on their online interactions.

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The conversation concluded with consensus from the panel that even with ongoing advancements and innovations to democratic processes around the world there’s still a need to “go back to basics” and educate the public about the very practical ways that they’re able to influence it because “the future is being made right now, and we must answer that call. We need intergenerational solidarity to make space for youth and representation to enable youth to take space and want it too” - Saskia Postema 

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Jestina Mukoko
Personne Citée
Interview with Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project.
Citation
Violence affects people’s willingness to go out and vote and we want there to be an environment where everyone feels safe to do so.

Jestina Mukoko is a human rights activist, former journalist and director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, an NGO that documents human rights abuses. She presented the "Democracy - Iphi inkululeko?" segment during the Our future forum. 

 

You originally trained as a journalist. What inspired you to make the move into human rights work?

Actually I wasn’t trained as a journalist, I trained as a political scientist. I did politics and administration at the University of Zimbabwe and because I was multi-lingual, I got a job at the public broadcaster. So I trained on the job as a broadcast journalist. But I think broadcast journalism became my second skin. It was work that I really loved doing. When I left the public broadcaster to join Radio Voice of the People, an alternative voice in Zimbabwe that was launching at the time, I had the task of going out into the field and gathering news which we would then package for broadcast. One of my visits was to Matebeleland, an area in the southwest of Zimbabwe that was plunged into civil war – some people call it genocide – from 1983-87. An estimated 20 000 people lost their lives and thousands more disappeared. I had heard that men were often targeted because they were the ones who were thought of as dissidents. I wanted to talk to the women to get their side of the story. As I was listening to them I realised that as journalists we were not doing them justice in terms of what had happened in Matebeleland. A lot of these women had lost their husbands. Some had been killed in front of them. It was a painful experience just listening to it. I thought it was a human rights issue that needed to be publicised, so I found myself in the human rights sector. Initially I joined an organisation called the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust, an organisation whose mandate was fostering coexistence and tolerance on a local level. After leaving them I joined the ZPP. 

 

What have been your primary aims as director of The Zimbabwe Peace Project?

Our goal is advancing sustainable peace. We don’t just want to experience peace ourselves but create an environment where even the children of our children will be able to enjoy that peace. We recognize that there are people who do things because they believe they have the power and that people do not have a voice. The ZPP exists to amplify some of these ills and injustices that are happening in communities. We have a unique model that we use where we have volunteers who are committed and dedicated to this kind of work and who live in the very communities where these things are happening. We amplify the voices of victims. We also want to listen to the voices of perpetrators as we recognise that they are often manipulated. We have a lot of young unemployed people who the politicians manipulate with a few pieces of silver, a t shirt or maybe even opaque beer. These days we are even worried that they will give them drugs. And then they have them do their dirty work. At the ZPP we want to shine a light in all corners and show where human rights abuses are happening.

Our aim is also to be a compliment to what the government is doing. They are the ones who have the status and responsibility of ensuring that citizens are able to exercise their rights. If those rights are being violated we let them know this is happening and what we look forward to is our government speaking out against these things and taking action against the abuses so at the end of the day these practices are not repeated.  In targeted communities where we are implementing peace building projects Binga, Chiredzi, Mutoko, Matobo and Mutasa, we have established what we call community ambassadors who are tasked with mapping out conflict in their area. We have also provided them with the capacity to transform the conflict. Where we see human rights being violated we also act as a referral centre referring victims to lawyers for legal redress, to doctors for medical attention and to psycho social therapists for those who are traumatised and require counselling. 

 

The ZPP recently launched its Resist, Reject and Report Violence Campaign. What response have you had to the campaign and what do you ultimately hope it will achieve?

The campaign is at a teething stage but the main idea is to say that communities cannot continue to vote people into office who are violent. We are saying they should resist them, reject them and report them. The ZPP names and shames perpetrators of violence. We have also adopted a transformative approach where we say we are going to ‘name and fame’ those who are doing well. An example is an MP we once heard of who is really loved by his community because when that community receives resources he divides them equally rather than giving them to those who favour a particular party. As we approach the 2023 election we also expect that campaign to facilitate our reporting on the electoral and political violence that is likely to affect the environment leading up to the election. We want communities to be resolute and say if you are going to be violent as a leader you don’t have a place in parliament, you need to shape up and encourage people to live peacefully and tolerate each other’s views so they can co-exist. Violence affects people’s willingness to go out and vote and we want there to be an environment where everyone feels safe to do so.

You recently took part in the ‘Our Future: Africa – Europe Dialogues’ symposium in Johannesburg in which figures from a range of different fields discussed the major challenges to democracy in Europe and Africa. What were the issues that most concerned you? 

I was a presenter in the session looking at democracy and freedom. We talk so much about democracy but is there freedom? Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980 and a lot of things changed but 42 years into independence are Zimbabweans free to do what they want? I always say Zimbabwe is an aspiring democracy. It has a constitution that was very progressive when it was first produced but that has changed because there have been retrogressive amendments. We have an expanded Bill of Rights but there are limitations that come with those rights. We are not enjoying them to the full. Poor people cannot access health care. Because we have a high unemployment rate parents cannot afford to pay school fees so their children are sent home. 

My country is supposed to be a multi-party democracy but opposition parties will have their meetings disrupted and banned and their supporters beaten up and arrested. This even happens during campaigns. And you say to yourself where is the freedom if political parties cannot participate in campaigns?  At the moment we have two women, Tsitsi Dangarebga a well-known writer, and Julie Barnes who were recently convicted for holding a placard even though our constitution provides for peaceful demonstration. You also look at the selective application of the law. If a crime is committed by a member of the opposition the police are very quick to arrest and they will usually be kept in detention for a long period without trial even though bail is supposed to be a constitutional right. 

Another session I attended was hosted by Play Africa where children were saying they are not able to enjoy democracy because their parents and other adults didn’t allow them to speak for themselves. We need to give children a platform where they feel able to speak about their situation. If we don’t listen to them there is a danger that they will turn to drugs or violence or commit suicide. We risk destroying a generation. 

The issue of threats to journalists was also important. It’s not just a Zimbabwean problem, it affects many different countries. We need to be working towards advocacy that allows journalists to do their work without facing arrest or violence. 

 

What are your hopes for the future of The Zimbabwe Peace Project? Do you think there have been any improvements in the situation in Zimbabwe since you began your position there? 

My vision for the ZPP is to see a Zimbabwe where there is peace, justice, dignity and development for all. 

Improvement is there but they don’t acknowledge our influence. The ZPP is part of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and after every election we come up with recommendations. In the past we would have Presidential elections and parliamentary elections in different years, we were always in election mode. We recommended harmonised elections as that is best practice and now we have that. We used to have wooden ballot boxes, now we have translucent ones. That is also an improvement. The expanded Bill of Rights is another improvement. It is also possible to request information under the Freedom of Information Act which means government departments have seven days in which to provide information. 

In the run up to the 2008 election we were monitoring and mapping hot spots of violence. These issues came up in the report of observers and when we came to the 2013 elections there was a significant change in terms of how the ruling party approached communities. There was still violence, but it was not violence that caused major injuries. Of course, there shouldn’t be any violence at all, but that was still an improvement. As Zimbabweans we are capable of respecting each other and voting without violence. Then those who win will know they won fairly in an environment where it was conductive for people to vote. 

Relive the event in videos

Johannesburg - 7 October 2022
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
Paths to democracy
Forum "Notre Futur - Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Johannesburg / 7 octobre matin
Forum "Notre Futur - Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Johannesburg / 7 octobre matin
Johannesburg - 7 October 2022
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
Paths to democracy
Forum "Notre Futur - Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Johannesburg / 7 octobre après-midi
Forum "Notre Futur - Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Johannesburg / 7 octobre après-midi
Johannesburg - 8 October 2022
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
Paths to democracy
Forum "Notre Futur - Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Johannesburg / 8 octobre
Forum "Notre Futur - Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Johannesburg / 8 octobre
Cover Cameroun - DT Notre futur
Getting involved!

The second Our Future forum was held in Yaoundé from 1 to 3 December 2022, on the theme: "Getting involved!". Coordinated by the Council for the Follow-up of the Recommendations of the New Africa-France Summit, it brought together civil society actors, intellectuals, artists, public and private decision-makers, as well as personalities from all walks of life, not only from Cameroon but also from other African and European countries. They discussed the major challenges of tomorrow, with a view to building a more sustainable world together. 

The National Museum of Cameroon, the Institute of International Relations of Cameroon and the Institut français of Cameroon hosted rich discussions on issues related to civic engagement, the development of the circular economy and questions of memory and heritage.

Jacques Jonathan Nyemb
President of the Council for the Follow-up of the Recommendations of the New Africa-France Summit
The theme was that of commitment, with the idea of co-constructing a more sustainable world together. It is vital to make more room for these young people as we confront the common challenges that our African and European societies face.
DT Notre futur - Cameroun

Relive the event in videos

Yaoundé - 1st December 2022
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
Getting involved!
Forum "Notre Futur-Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Yaoundé - 1er décembre 2022
Forum "Notre Futur-Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Yaoundé - 1er décembre 2022
Yaoundé - 2 December 2022
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
Getting involved!
Forum "Notre Futur-Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Yaoundé - 2 décembre 2022
Forum "Notre Futur-Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Yaoundé - 2 décembre 2022
Yaoundé - 3 December 2022
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
Getting involved!
Forum "Notre Futur-Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Yaoundé - 3 décembre 2022
Forum "Notre Futur-Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Yaoundé - 3 décembre 2022
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Forum organisers and partners

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Together for nature

After Johannesburg and Yaoundé, the third Forum of the "Our Future: Africa-Europe Dialogues" cycle was held in Algiers from 3 to 5 February 2023. Entitled Together for Nature, it brought together 13 countries (Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Egypt, Gabon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Tunisia, Spain, France, Portugal and Sweden) and around 300 participants representing numerous associations, civil society organisations, public institutions and committed companies/start-ups, to discuss the ecological responsibility of citizens and the climate challenges that face our planet. 

This Forum was co-organised by the Institut français of Algeria, the Institut français de Paris and an editorial committee composed of four personalitiesSamir Grimes, lecturer at the École Nationale Supérieure des Sciences de la Mer et de l'Aménagement du Littoral (ENSSMAL-Algiers); Adel Amalou, co-founder of the start-up IncubMe; Ihcene Menous, an environmental activist known as "Ihcene the Adventurous"; and Emna Sohlobji, doctoral student in maritime law, consultant with the strategy consultancy Tellus. 

Forum discussions took place at the Riadh el Feth cultural centre, in the framework of four round tables based on four themes aimed at raising citizens' awareness of the environmental consequences of our lifestyles, consumption and production, while placing the relationship with nature at the heart of the debate: (i.) producing better; (ii.) consuming better; (iii.) living in the world; (iv.) getting involved and passing on.

Exhibitions, a solutions village and a Hackathon were also held in parallel to the Forum. 

Le Forum en chiffres

300
300 speakers from Africa and Europe
1 international Hackathon with 6 countries represented
1 waste collection which took place in 15 wilayas, 4 round tables, 5 workshops for children, 4 artistic performances in connection with the event, 28 associations represented.
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Feedback : Stéphanie Njiomo

Stéphanie Njiomo is an ambassador for the Global Pact for the Environment in Cameroon and Central Africa. Following her participation in the Forum, she gives us a feedback around the theme Together for nature and perspectives for the future.

 

"Together for Nature A theme that reveals the disparity between human activities and respect for nature and its components.

We have reached this point! The point where we need to negotiate, to invite, to convince human consciences to take the same direction as nature, to preserve the ozone layer, to safeguard the forests which are sources of oxygen, to depollute the oceans, to restore degraded land, to feed ourselves sustainably, to house ourselves properly and to dress responsibly.

The Ensemble pour la nature ('Together for Nature') Forum brought to the table several stakeholders whose daily lives are spent in conflict in order to live in harmony with Nature. Among the many questions raised during this meeting, the theme of housing was the subject of at least two round tables. Strong ideas were shared and potential solutions were envisaged to deconstruct habitats that are damaging nature irreparably, and return to a more intelligent, sustainable and comfortable model. Because the natural and cultural wealth of each community should be reflected in their living environment, the requirements of modernity and those linked to the traditions of each community were presented as the new basis for sustainable housing.

Where will we live tomorrow? What will our buildings be made of? Will they withstand the vagaries of climate? Do they respond to the vagaries of weather? Do they match the available natural resources? Do they meet the needs of communities?

These are all questions raised by the debate on the habitats of tomorrow. The answers provided by the various speakers enabled ideas to be exchanged and experiences to be shared in order to make tomorrow's habitats greener, but above all, to draw up stronger arguments for the habitats that we need for the future. 

 

A meeting of ideas for tomorrow's habitats

There was nothing peremptory or imperative about the suggestion that our habitats of the past could serve as models for the habitats of the future during the Algiers Forum. It was largely through the testimonies freely expressed by all the participants that we were able to conclude that the predominant construction model is not in phase with nature on the one hand, and even more mismatched with the real needs of its users on the other.

Examples from across Africa and Europe have shown that ancestral models are full of useful knowledge and practices to satisfy humanity in terms of habitat. In central Africa, as elsewhere, the techniques of the past in which earth and wood were used as raw materials have retained all their importance in imagining the habitats of today and tomorrow. We must understand that to speak of sustainable housing is to speak of an architecture that is not sustainable in terms of the solidity of the buildings, but 'sustainable' for the planet. Feriel Gasmi, architect, curator of the Franco-Algerian design biennial and moderator of the round table, took the example of southern Algeria, which is rich in earthen architecture cities "which have not all been preserved". The starting point was the observation that the use of cultural and traditional knowledge in architecture is declining, before tackling the issue of energy in housing. 

 

Cultural elements in the habitat of tomorrow 

 "The traditional construction model must be defended with the public authorities," argued Feriel Gasmi.

Indeed, Africa is a continent with extraordinary architectural wealth. Traditional architecture has developed there over thousands of years through the know-how of local populations in mastering the raw materials offered by their environment: earth, wood, leaves, granite, etc. However, technological progress has led to the disappearance of ancient African cities. Indeed, the influence has manifested itself in the deformation and destruction of pre-existing cultures and traditions.
Since the 20th century, housing in Cameroon has been modernised by destroying or abandoning traditional building methods. In the northern part of the country, the progressive abandonment of local materials has given way to concrete and aluminium sheets which make the population feel very uncomfortable in the dry season. There is a uniformity and standardisation of habitat following the European model. The architecture in Cameroon is therefore a mix of two different cultures: the 'traditional' habitat made with local materials and the 'modern' habitat, modelled on European culture.
The environmental and social diversity of Africa still offers building possibilities deeply rooted in social tradition and traditional construction. These possibilities should be explored, promoted and preserved.

All of these visions, shared by speakers and participants, led them to question their way of living, thinking and inhabiting the land.

In Africa, as in Europe, society will have to be built on new priorities, a more sustainable management of resources, and a better regulated relationship between habitat and the environment.

During the debate, we demonstrated that 21st century construction can no longer ignore the physical limitations of the planet, the social demands of growing urban populations, their expectations of safety and comfort, the importance of preserving architectural heritage in culture, and the strong constraints of the environment and the economy. Architecture cannot afford to progress without an upstream consideration of these new constraints.

However, defending yesterday's solutions does not mean rejecting the solutions of today. Indeed, renewable energy combined with other technological innovations could offer an ecologically tenable, economically profitable and socially satisfactory result for housing.

 

The question of energy in sustainable housing 

The sustainability of habitats also raised issues around renewable energy at the forum. The round table that preceded the debate on housing returned to the issues relating to energy and its role in preserving the environment. Indeed, thinking about housing from the perspective of sustainable development is one of the main challenges for human societies moving towards a more sustainable model and the energy transition could allow us to move towards positive energy buildings with a low carbon footprint. The European Parliament has adopted a reinforcement of the GHG emission reduction targets for 2030 and 2050. In Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the residential sector accounts for a significant 19% of GHG emissions and 27% of final energy consumption. It is therefore essential to design buildings that consume less energy, with low or very low consumption. In Africa, almost all countries have a NDC - Nationally Determined Contribution - setting the target figure for the energy mix envisaged over a given period. Cameroon, for example, plans to increase the share of renewable energy in its energy mix to 25% by 2030.

For Fouzi Benkhelifa, Founder and President of NEXQT and an expert on climate action, future scenarios point to an African population that will double in size over the next thirty years. 80% of this increase will occur in cities. This means that there will be twice as many urban dwellers, a catching up of living standards, and more equipment in homes. The demographic transition will be accompanied by an explosion of urbanisation, with energy resources becoming an increasing problem. Fouzi Benkhelifa believes we will reach the end of a fossil fuel consumption model, and that the energy shock will be a threat to stability.

Beyond the reduction of energy consumption for daily use, it was agreed to address the question of the life cycle analysis of buildings and their overall ecological footprint to develop low energy buildings. This analysis starts with the choice of materials in relation to the grey energy[1] they contain and takes into consideration the end of the building's life, including its dismantling and recovery of the materials it contains. It also integrates a bioclimatic architectural design[2]

 

Perspectives after the forum 

 The forum lives on in the collaboration born and to be pursued with speakers and participants sharing convergent points of view on the future we want and that we are building.

The idea in its continuation is to:

- Diagnose African and European construction policies in more detail

- To popularise traditional know-how in the field of sustainable housing

- To sensitise African and European communities on the short and long term advantages of a hybrid form - modern and traditional - in terms of construction

On a personal note, I would place the Algiers Forum in the category/rank of "Action Fora". The field initiatives presented at this meeting have awakened, or reawakened, the climate activism in which my battles/conflicts in the field of environmental education and the harmonisation of development policies with climate requirements are embedded. In making the voice of environmentalists committed to a real ecological transition in Africa and Europe more favourable, the Forum will have made it possible to move a step further towards "Our Future"." 


[1] Grey energy: the sum of all the energy required for the design, production, transportation, use, recycling and end-of-life of a product or material.

[2] Bio-climatism: a design concept to achieve living conditions and comfort in the most natural way possible, while also making the most of the environment.

Relive the event in videos

Algiers- 3 February 2023
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
Together for nature
Forum "Notre Futur - Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Alger - 3 février 2023
Forum "Notre Futur - Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Alger - 3 février 2023
Algiers - 4 February 2023
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
Together for nature
Forum "Notre Futur - Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Alger - 4 février 2023
Forum "Notre Futur - Dialogues Afrique-Europe" à Alger - 4 février 2023

L'intégralité du Forum en rediffusion

Iframe
Fond partenaires DT NF Algérie
Fond partenaires DT NF Algérie

Forum organisers and partners

DT Maurice image principale
The horizon beyond borders

After South Africa, Cameroon and Algeria, Mauritius hosted the fourth Notre futur forum from 3 to 5 November 2023. Gathered around the theme "Horizons beyond borders", the speakers and participants came from the host country, France, Europe and the island states and territories of the region. Organised by the Institut français of Mauritius with the support of the Institut français of Paris, the forum also welcomed personalities from 3 African countries bordering the Indian Ocean: Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania. 

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Forum Maurice
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Forum Maurice
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Forum Maurice
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Forum Maurice
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Forum Maurice
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Forum Maurice
Forum Maurice

Why choose this theme?

Nowhere else is a border so visible and total as that of an island state like Mauritius, a shoreline separating stretches of land and sea, Here and Elsewhere, Us and Others. Beyond the border-shore, seen from the island, the horizon is everywhere you look, a distant line, an invitation to go beyond, to experience a change of scenery. It therefore comes as no surprise that this theme emerged from an island. Indeed, Mauritius is the ideal place to consider and conceptualise both the processes of closure and withdrawal and those of opening, going beyond and forging ties over the horizon. 

A forum for, and by, young people

The programme has been put together over the past few months through an inclusive and participatory approach, whereby the Institut français brought together some fifty young people – Mauritians and those of other nationalities, namely students or professionals living in Mauritius – for two days of discussions. This gave rise to the main themes of the workshops. 

In total, there will be around ten activities, including workshops and debates, art installations and performances and a serious game on borders, specially designed for this event. Participants will discuss a wide range of subjects, such as new university models, youth engagement, food and its ability to create or transcend borders, and more. 

A media platform, edited by young people, will be active throughout the forum in order to develop live content and share it via online media. Guest speakers Kantuta Quirós (filmmaker, curator, art theorist), Aliocha Wald Lasowski (musician, philosopher and lecturer-researcher) and Eirini Linardaki (artist and curator of public art projects) will join in with the discussions, exchanges and creations. 

Muriel Piquet-Viaux
Director of the Institut français in Mauritius
Mauritius has been chosen out of all the potential territories to host three days of immersion in the concepts of horizon, borders, going beyond and dialogue. Together, young people from the region will come up with new spheres of conversation, built on new paradigms that highlight cross-disciplinary, diversified and disruptive thought.
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Notre futur Maurice
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Notre futur Maurice
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 Notre futur Maurice
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Notre futur Maurice
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Notre futur Maurice
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Notre futur Maurice
Forum Maurice

An editorial board has been set up to coordinate this fourth edition of Our Future - Africa-Europe Dialogues and guide the discussions of the young people invited to these days of co-construction. It is made up of key figures in civil society and professionals from a range of backgrounds, namely Nathalie Bernardie-Tahir, Professor of Geography at the Université de Limoges & Chair of the Board of Directors of the Université des Mascareignes; Zia Gopee, art historian & educational coordinator at Rubika Mauritius; Farrah Jahangeer, researcher in architecture and lecturer; Stéphan Karghoo, historian & Director of the Centre Nelson Mandela; Shenaz Patel, journalist & writer; Gilles Ribouet, geographer and Head of Communications of the Indian Ocean Commission and Kooshilla Saraye, Coordinator of the Young African Leaders Initiative Mauritius, EU youth ambassador, Global Shapers & ambassador of Global Peace Chain. 

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Notre futur Maurice
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Notre futur Maurice
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Notre futur Maurice

Relive the event in videos

Mauritius: 3, 4 and 5 November 2023
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
A lookback at the Forum.
Forum Notre futur à Maurice, les 3, 4 et 5 novembre 2023
Forum Notre futur à Maurice, les 3, 4 et 5 novembre 2023
Shenaz Patel, writer and journalist
Mauritius: 3, 4 and 5 November 2023
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
Notre futur Maurice : Shenaz Patel, écrivaine et journaliste
Notre futur Maurice : Shenaz Patel, écrivaine et journaliste
Amina Ali Said, PhD student in law
Mauritius: 3, 4 and 5 November 2023
Our future - Africa-Europe dialogues
Notre futur Maurice : Amina Ali Said, doctorante en droit
Notre futur Maurice : Amina Ali Said, doctorante en droit
Abidjan
Côte d'Ivoire, du 20 au 22 avril 2024 : “Hériter du futur"
Notre futur - Fond RTE + image

5ème étape du cycle de forums Afrique-Europe « Notre futur », initié par l’Institut français en octobre 2022 pour intensifier les relations entre l’Afrique et l’Europe, le forum « Hériter du futur : valorisons la diversité du patrimoine pour créer un avenir commun » se déroulera à Abidjan du 20 au 22 avril 2024. Il réunira des chercheurs, jeunes représentants d’organisations de la société civile, créateurs et entrepreneurs culturels autour des enjeux « identités, patrimoines et industries culturelles et créatives ».

Pendant 3 journées, les débats et conversations se donneront pour objet de questionner le rôle des ICC dans la valorisation des patrimoines et l’interprétation des mémoires collectives. Des ateliers participatifs et des sessions de travail seront centrés sur l’émergence de solutions et de projets concrets. Ils permettront d’offrir des perspectives communes aux secteurs créatifs soucieux de s’engager dans des dynamiques de conservation, de transmission et de circulation des patrimoines matériels et immatériels, tout en facilitant les efforts de réappropriation des identités et de construction d’une histoire partagée entre les deux continents.

Le forum est co-construit par un comité exécutif de personnalités ivoiriennes et africaines, l’Ambassade de France en Côte d’Ivoire, l’Institut français de Côte d’Ivoire, l’Institut français et la délégation de l’Union européenne en Côte d’Ivoire.

Hériter du Futur
Abidjan, du 20 au 22 avril 2024
Un grand forum pour penser et construire nos imaginaires communs.
 "Hériter du futur" - Abidjan, du 20 au 22 avril 2024
"Hériter du futur" - Abidjan, du 20 au 22 avril 2024
Hériter du Futur
Abidjan, du 20 au 22 avril 2024
Hériter du futur, un forum pour partager les imaginaires africains.
Hériter du futur
Hériter du futur