south africa and mozambique: east and southern africa unite against oil
To respond to this and various other such developments in Southern and Eastern Africa, FoE South Africa and FoE Mozambique, together with the the International Working Group on Oil, hosted the East and Southern African workshop on Oil and Gas in September 2008.
48 people, including both community representatives and NGOs from South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Mauritius, Uganda, Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and west Africans from Nigeria, Chad, Mali and Congo Brazzaville, attended a five day workshop where information was shared on oil and gas.
Critically, community people shared the experience of their present struggles and considered how these present struggles could be the platform for articulating the struggles in future. Participation was from a variety of sectors that had close links to the daily reality on the ground: fishermen in suits from Mauritius, Islamic clerics from rural Mozambique, community members from Lake Albert in Uganda and rural community folk from Ethiopia.
It was exciting to see how at the end of the day, people opted for a focus on cross- border community work between people who are in close proximity to each other to develop nodes of action rather than just a network. As the local action develops, a broader network will be the inevitable result.
What was learned
Finally, through the intense debate of five days, it was clear that people were considering the very real campaign of ‘keeping the oil in the soil’, ‘blocking the block’ and ‘keeping the coal in the hole’. As one of the Mauritian fisherman said in relation to oil drilling, “You do not want to disturb the devil’s fire.”