When we started to work on the decision for SotM 2023 it was obvious that we prefer Cameroon to Kosovo for two reasons.
We prefered a venue out of Europe as past three SotMs took place in Europe. And we didn’t want to have the double conference with FOSS4G for several reasons, even if there are good reasons to have the conferences in neighbourhood.
For several meetings we worked on the bid of the local team of Cameroon. We asked a lot of questions to the team of Cameroon also about security issues. The aim was to go there and to improve circumstances. We investigated the conditions to make a hybrid conference. So that everyone could participate even if it attendees decide against a travel due to security issues.
All members of the SotM WG were aware of security issues of a travel to Cameroon. But we wanted to provide a strong hybrid part as alternative. So we asked about technical background in the venue in detail and it was “no question of budget” to do everything possible in this direction.
It was known from the beginning that LGTBQ+ community won’t be able to travel to Cameroon. But at this stage I thought the hybrid is a good solution to have everybody involved …
Then something happend. We received mails of a board member (not private, but with board email and board cc) that “reminded” us to the security policy of OSMF. It was not possible any longer to organize a SotM in Cameroon. Other board members asured me that we have all support of the board. You can see in the minutes mentioned above how strong the board put pressure on SotM working group. I cannot find any comment in it that the board should let do SotM working group their work …
In our last meeting we had three options. Going on with Cameroon. Choosing Kosovo or no (international) SotM. We decided to stay with Africa but to work on a venue that is possible for everyone. This is not possible for 2023. So we announce that for 2024.
For me personnaly this was the most sad desicion in my “SotM career”. I felt deeply disappointed about this decision. At the other hand of course we want to have LGTBQ+ people part of SotM. Of course!
Please support SotM Africa in Cameroon as local conference!