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Fahamu is a not-for-profit organisation committed to serving the needs of organisations and social movements that inspire progressive social change and promote and protect human rights. It has played a pioneering role in using new information and communication technologies to support capacity building and networking between civil society and human rights organisations. Fahamu has offices in the UK, South Africa, Senegal and Kenya. Fahamu's core tools to build capacity and engage civil and human rights organisations are the publication of Pambazuka News (on-line news and interaction on social justice and development), on-line distance learning courses on human rights and social justice and the application of new technologies such as SMS for information dissemination, lobbying and interaction purposes.[1]


Fahamu was established in the UK in 1997. Fahamu Ltd was registered and incorporated as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee in 2001 (no. 4241054). Fahamu Ltd is registered in Kenya as F15/2006. Fahamu Trust was registered as a charity in the UK (no. 1100304) in July 2003, with the following objectives: ‘the advancement of education of the public world wide by the publication of electronic newsletters, courses and disseminating of information on human rights’.[2] Fahamu SA is registered as a trust in South Africa IT 37201. In order to enable supporters in the USA to contribute to Fahamu’s work, Fahamu was established in 2005 as a Global Support Fund of the Tides Foundation, a duly registered public charity, exempt from US Federal income taxation under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Mission statement

Fahamu supports the strengthening of human rights and social justice movements by:

  • promoting innovative use of information and communications technologies
  • stimulating debate, discussion and analyses
  • publishing news and information
  • developing and delivering educational courses, including by distance learning.


Fahamu’s strategy over the coming years is to:

  • expand the forum for human rights and social justice in Africa
  • expand public awareness of human rights
  • strengthen civil society organisations
  • root Fahamu in Africa.

Communications and Education

In the ten years of its existence, Fahamu has made a significant contribution to media and freedom of expression in Africa, using information and communications technologies.


Fahamu’s flagship publication, Pambazuka News, an open-access, pan-African email and online newsletter with English, French and Portuguese editions, some 15,000 subscribers and an estimated weekly readership of around 500,000, is generated predominantly in Africa. The 300th issue was published in 2007.[3] Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and visual content with commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent. Fahamu produces a series of special reports, some of which are published in Pambazuka News, and some of which are made available as separate downloadable documents from the Pambazuka website. In May 2005, Fahamu established the African Union Monitor. This website and associated electronic mailing list aims to strengthen the ability of civil society organisations to engage constructively with the African Union (AU) and its organs in the interests of promoting justice, equity and accountability through the provision of high-quality and timely information.

Fahamu Books and Pambazuka Press

With bases in Nairobi, Cape Town, Dakar, and Oxford, Pambazuka Press (formerly Fahamu Books) publishes a growing list of book titles on human rights, social justice, politics and advocacy in Africa, written by well-known African academics, public intellectuals and activists.

Fahamu also publish training materials on CD-ROMs to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations in Africa to promote and protect human rights and to help them become sustainable and effective organisations. A number of these CD-ROMs are also available as tutored, online courses from Fahamu. In publishing, Fahamu has partnered with Food First, Grassroots International, Focus on the Global South, Mkuki na nyota, Oozebap, the South Centre and SOAWR.

Select Titles

  • No Land! No House! No Vote! Voices from Symphony Way, by the Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers (2011)[4]
  • Chinese and African Perspectives on China in Africa, Axel Harneit-Sievers, Stephen Marks, Sanusha Naidu (eds) (2010)
  • SMS Uprisings: Mobile Phone Activism in Africa, Sokari Ekine (ed) (2010)
  • The Crash of International Finance-Capital and its Implications for the Third World, Dani Wadada Nabudere (2009)
  • Aid to Africa: redeemer or Coloniser? Hakima Abbas, Yves Niyiragira (eds) (2009)
  • Food Rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice, Eric Holt Giménez, Raj Patel (2009)
  • Where is Uhuru? Reflections on the Struggle for Democracy in Africa, Issa G. Shivji (2009)
  • Ending Aid Dependence, Yash Tandon (2008)
  • China’s New Role in Africa and the South, Edited by Dorothy Guerrero, Firoze Manji (2008)
  • Africa’s Long Road to Rights/ Long trajet de l’Afrique vers les Droits, Edited by Hakima Abbas (2008)
  • Silences in NGO Discourse: The Role and Future of NGOs in Africa, Issa G. Shivji (2007)

Fahamu courses

As part of its mission to build the capacity of African human rights and social justice movements, Fahamu develops training materials and runs courses, including by distance learning. Fahamu provides training to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations in Africa to promote and protect human rights and to help them become sustainable and effective organisations.

In the teaching of courses, Fahamu works with, amongst others, the University of Oxford[5] and MIT. “It is our pleasure to work with you in this important international effort, an undertaking enriched by the fine educational content of Fahamu.” Anne H Margulies, executive director, MIT OpenCourseWare [6]


Fahamu joined Solidarity with African Women’s Rights (SOAWR), a collation of 30 women’s and international organisations, in 2004 to promote the ratification of the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. Fahamu offered the pages of Pambazuka News and technological support to the coalition to raise public awareness about the protocol across the continent and to help women bring pressure on their governments to adopt the protocol. Within 15 months, the campaign had succeeded: 15 countries had ratified the protocol, enabling it to come into force across Africa.

As Kenya was plunged into violence following the contested elections in December 2007,[7] Fahamu sought to support independent, progressive voices in Kenya. Fahamu became actively engaged in the Kenyans for Peace through Truth and Justice coalition.[8] In particular, Fahamu-Kenya became involved in the Direct Action Training workshops[9] initiated by activist and artist Shailja Patel in April 2008. With the support of a New Tactics in Human Rights grant, Fahamu-Kenya is now collaborating with Bunge la Mwananchi (the people's parliament) [10] to train grassroots activists on effective advocacy with the aim of supporting them to lead similar workshops in local communities.

In collaboration with the African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), Fahamu has established a collaborative network of community radio stations, radio journalists and cartoonists to develop a range of radio plays, current affairs broadcasts and the publication of cartoon books on the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, which will be disseminated in west and east Africa (in the first instance).[11]

Fahamu has used innovative technologies, including SMS (text messaging by mobile phone) as a means of promoting public awareness of social justice issues in Africa. The use of these technologies has been particularly appropriate given the spread of mobile technology on the African continent and the fact that, as communications devices, they have leapfrogged non-existent telephony infrastructure, opening up the potential for communicating with new audiences.


  • Politics Online 2005,2006,2007,2008 (voted one of the top ten websites in the annual 'Top 10 Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics')[12]
  • Tech Museum Award 2005 (Fahamu was one of five Tech Laureates in the Microsoft Education category.)
  • Highway Africa 2005 (Pambazuka News won the non-profit category for the innovative use of new media.) [13]
  • GenARDIS 2005 (Fahamu South Africa was one of the 10 winners of the Gender and Agriculture in the Information Society (GenARDIS) Award.)[14]
  • Prix Ars Electronica Awards 2005 (honorary mention) [15]
  • AOL Innovations in the community Award 2004 [16]
  • Stockholm Challenge 2004 (runner up for the development of distance learning courses for human rights organisations.)


AFFORD [17] African Books Collective Article 19 [18] Association for the Prevention of Torture China Development Brief Development in Practice Editorial Nordan-Comunidad Equality Now EQUINET – Network on equity in Health in Southern Africa Focus on the Global South Gaza Community Mental Healthcare Programme International Development Research Centre IDRC Books Just Associates (JASS) Kabissa Mazingira Institute Nigerian National Human Rights Commission Open CourseWare Consortium Oxford University Department for Continuing Education PAMONET Penal reform International (Malawi) SOAWR [19] Tactical Technology Collective The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) [20] The Directory of Social Change Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Training and Research Support Centre University for Peace Africa Programme WITNESS[21]


External links

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