by Roma Robinson
The massive problems we are currently seeing are global, but with a democracy captured by the financial interest of the ruling classes, our solutions must be local - we must regrow our power at the grassroots. The question then, is how can we make our local actions have the wide impact they must have to support transformative change?
With that in mind, on Tuesday 9th of January, Stroud welcomed some very exciting visitors from Ghana to our rolling valleys.
Akorfa Gakpa and Dzigbordi Agbo are community educationists. Together they work on ABLODENUNYANSA Communiversity, decolonial education work in their indigenous Gbetowo Nation which spreads across the European imposed colonial borders of various states in West Afrika today. They are also co-leaders of the Global Citizenship Education for Planet Repairs Action (GCEPRA) endeavour in Ghana. Their work is vital for the de-colonial repair of Afrika, and we were honoured to have them visit us.
Akorfa and Dzigbordi have been in the UK for the past two months, on an internationalist study exchange, learning about our resistance here and working with Pan-Afrikan organisers in London to develop their future strategies. They are now in the last month of their visit, and part of that is making links with organisers across the UK so that we can support each other.
They had two stops on their trip to the South West, Stroud for two days and later Bristol, to visit the work of the radical learning community there.
As SISTER (Stroud in Internationalist Solidarity, Together for Earth Repair), we have been doing similar work in parallel to GCEPRA - community education for the change that needs to come. Over the Summer we reclaimed space in the Old County Library on Lansdown Road and organised a summer school, where we ran over 40 radical educational events for the local community, covering topics like de-colonialism, internationalist solidarity and the power of young people.
GCEPRA work in their context to educate on indigenous rights, reparatory justice and rematriation into a vision of a better world. They work with young people in particular, and believe that as young people imagine and build for power, they pull their parents into the work.
There is important linking here, connecting ourselves and other young people we work with to the youth of GCEPRA through dialogue that will make both of our efforts stronger - we share this same struggle.
They arrived Tuesday lunchtime and were taken on a tour of Stroud, visiting areas of significance to our work; such as the Archway in Paganhill and Ebley Mill - both as the seat of local government now and a surviving mill that we could use to talk about the wool trade here.
Educating ourselves on local radical history was an important part of our work last year, and we told them about Stroud Scarlet and the Stroudwater Riots - big shout out to the Stroud Radical History Society and all the work that they do.
Later that evening, SISTER hosted a group of people connected to our work in the community to hear some more about their work and provide opportunities for linking.
They spoke about the history of their tribe, and the journey they made West across the coast towards what is now Ghana. Then, about the impact that the carving up of Afrika by European powers at the 1884-84 Berlin conference continues to have on families and people that they know.
It is important to be honest about this, as it reminds us of the responsibility we have to this work and to supporting the repair of these communities - and ourselves - for it was done by our government and with what democratic process? It was done by our government, and the process of land being drawn up and parcelled out to the wealthy was done to our lands too.
We owe it to ourselves as well.
Now, the tribe faces issues like their lands being seized and destroyed for gold and lithium mining to fund our technological advancements - including our “green revolution”. This forceful seizure of land is the same process that was initiated in 1884 and before - the destruction of sovereignty that allows the destruction of the earth.
This is something that we think is vital to address in environmentalist movements here - that the destruction of the earth is inextricable from violence towards colonised communties. Framing the issues as separate does them a disservice. In order to properly address ecocide, we have to work for the repair of communities, including our own investment in our land.
Then, they explained the upcoming elections and how indigenous activists who are fighting for land sovereignty are being threatened and disappeared. The current government is responsible for much of the violence they experience and although - like the current situation we are in - the opposition party is not ideal, working for their election and against the voter suppression that their people face will bring positive impacts.
The next day, the core organisers of SISTER met with the visitors for a whole day of discussing our work and opportunities for linking. We heard about their organising for the election, and we spoke about land justice work here - we even got everyone singing the World Turned Upside Down by Leon Rosselson. We laid out our plans for the new year, and by the end of it we had some tangible plans for linking and support.
The Outcomes and Our reflection
This is the beginning of a vital and exciting relationship, and we’re excited to see where this goes.
Glocalising our work means speaking across nations for mutual benefit and the advancement of our struggle against global capitalism. Swapping our tactics, strategy and learning creates investment in change that is bigger than ourselves and helps make our movements more effective. Think about the pro-democracy protesters of Hong Kong swapping practical tips for resisting tear gas and other police violence with the 2020 BLM protesters - this is a strategy that works! For now, these relationships are being built, and already, we’re learning so much together.
Practically, in December, we will be sending some people from Stroud as part of the PRIO - the Planet Repairs Internationalist Observatory - to provide eyes on the elections that will hold the Ghanaian government accountable for any violence towards its citizens over this period. In addition, we’ll be organising ways that the wider Stroud community can observe the elections, leading our eyes and ears to the people of Ghana - more information on this will follow throughout the year.
As well as this work, we’ll be working with GCEPRA and other organisations towards the Afrika-Europe People to Peoples Planet Repairs Action Dialogue Internationalist Forum scheduled in Berlin this year in November to repair the legacy of the 1884 Berlin Conference - exactly 140 years since it took place. We’ll be sending a delegation from Stroud, joining those from Gbetowohome, Bristol, and many other places.
We’ve linked with them, and this visit was made possible through the PRALER process (Planet Repairs Action Learning Educational Revolution) that was launched in October 2022. It aims to facilitate these local-to-local relationships.
Big shout out to the work that is put in to make that process happen, you can find the starter booklet here. ABLODENUNYANSA is on page 17 - see if you can spot Stroud!
To support this work, please donate at the PRALER fund. Donating to the PRALER Fund means supporting Global South communities to become connected and addressing their needs.
Roma Robinson writes on behalf of SISTER and the RYSE.
SISTER have been organising young people, teachers, parents and elders for internationalist solidarity since October 2022, and have been working with the RYSE to build a radical education space in Stroud.