A critical voice: whose voices are we hearing?

As someone involved in creating a network of Jesuits working with indigenous people in East Asia and in developing an indigenous theology, the Jesuit Jo-Jo Fung, member of the international delegation, had this to say: ?Though these critical impressions come at the start of the WSF and may be subsequently modified, they are important in themselves. It is a delight to be back in the land of struggle after ten years. I was glad to learn that the adivasi and dalits have indeed come of age. Their presence in large numbers from different parts of India, as ?awakened Adivasis and Dalits? impressed me deeply. I would have liked to see them ?drumming together? as a sign of their concerted struggle against casteism and communalism. The presence of marginalised groups at the WSF ground was really impressive and moving. However, the very WSF that intends to empower the marginalised seems to have marginalised them, relegating them to a small space where they could perform their various dances. I would have liked them to have been given the centre stage so that their discourse as an empowered people could be communicated through their cultural dances. In Asia we allow for different genres of expression, and dance is an important one. The fact that they are still ?off? centre-stage symbolises the attitude of the WSF, which has not yet liberated them but, on the contrary, kept them under control. The question posed is: is WSF liberational from the point of view of the agents who intend to empower them? Are liberation and empowerment the goals of WSF in the near future? Furthermore, I find the dissonance between the elitist discourses of the inaugural panel and that of the awakened marginalised people (Adivasis and Dalits) disturbing. Are the ?outsiders?, who are the intellectuals, the rightful or designated ?voices? of the voiceless? None of the insiders, ?intellectuals/educated thinkers? among the Adivasis and Dalits, let alone farmers, mining workers, and rural women, were given a space to speak for themselves and their own people. I find this dissonance a grave injustice done to the marginalised.? [HL40112]