Since the 1990s, with the institution of the multiparty democracy, the number of electoral democracies in West Africa has been on the rise. Since January 2017, the region has for the first time since 1962 no sitting president who seized power through a military coup and transformed himself to a civilian Head of State. To consolidate these gains, it has become imperative to intervene and empower activists, journalists and social justice advocates on non-violence resistance tactics to promote the democratic practice.
As a response to that, WACSI with the support of Open Society Justice Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) brought together 36 activists from across West Africa for a 4-day workshop focusing on strengthening their capacity on effective non-violent mobilisation tactics. The workshop which took place in Accra, from the 04 – 07 November 2019, builds on a previous workshop aiming at equipping social activists with the relevant tools and strategies to leverage communications and technology resources in a safer manner.
The specific objectives of the training workshop were to: strengthen the capacity of selected activists in West Africa on strategies and approaches of effective civil resistance within the context of a turbulent civic space; increase activists’ skills, knowledge, awareness, capability and engagement on effective and successful non-violent resistance; and support activists from selected countries through knowledge, skills and tools on nonviolent tactics to enable them to consolidate democracy and accountability practices in their respective countries; The training workshop also provided an avenue for activists to share their experiences.
Participants expressed different expectations at the workshop such as how to improve on mobilisation and promote non-violent activism, strengthening capacity on movement building and knowing more about non-violent mobilization, and how to inculcate peace in their society through organizing no violent movement. At the end of the Workshop, participants expressed their satisfaction with the training content and its delivery. They attested to have gained new knowledge that would create a lasting positive impact on their work and organisation.
In that regard, Lamin Sonko, the Youth Coordinator of Gambia has Decide committed to sharing his experience at the training with Gambians activist in order to improve their understanding and skill in non-violence mobilisation as they are planning for a mass protest in the Gambia. In the same line, Isatou Sarr, the Vice-Chairperson of Young People Without Border also said she will conduct an interactive knowledge-sharing exercise with young people of her region and beyond.
“I will organise more peaceful movement using the strategies taught during the training,” said Tebeck Mariztsa Chesong, the Youth Coordinator for Mother of Hope, Cameroon.