afrika aphukira

Midwiving the Afrikan rebirth. . . Views of Afrika and the world, on the path to the renaissance, from a social justice and an Afrikan epistemological perspective--uMunthu. Includes specific commentary on Malawi and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What Would Gandhi Do? Zimbabwe, Neo-imperialism and the Lessons of Nonviolence

The theme for this year’s Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) annual conference, held from October 8 to 10 at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, could not have been more apropos. Phrased as “The Power of Nonviolence,” it compelled me to think about the ways in which Nonviolence theory and praxis could be brought to bear in the search for solutions to one of Africa’s most intractable puzzles, the case of Zimbabwe. No sooner had the conference ended and we had all returned to our respective bases than Zimbabwe shot up onto the world headlines once again. The Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC-T)) Agriculture Deputy Minister-designate Roy Bennett was indicted and remanded to jail on Wednesday October 14, to await his trial on charges believed by many to be politically motivated. He is being tried on charges of “possessing weapons for the purposes of insurgency and banditry,” according to the Zimbabwe Times. High Court Justice Charles Hungwe restored Bennett's bail two days later, on the same day that Prime Minister and MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai announced that the MDC-T was disengaging from the Government of National Unity. 

The Last Straw

News reports described the Roy Bennett issue as the last straw that broke the GNU’s back, despite Tsvangirai’s clarification that the disengagement was not a direct result of the Bennett trial. The Zimbabwe Times quoted Tsvangirai as telling reporters: “Let me emphasise this . . . this decision has not been made because of Bennett as some might want think. This has purely nothing to do with Bennett but with the collapse of trust in our Zanu PF partners in government.” Rumors that the MDC-T were contemplating pulling out of the Government of National Unity predated the events of this past week. The Financial Gazette titled its Friday October 2 comment “No to MDC Pull Out”, and urged the MDC-T to explore other ways of resolving the problems dogging the GNU, other than withdrawing from the eight-month marriage of convenience.

The statement from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai announcing the “disengagement” offered the context for the decision as the culmination of “outstanding, non-compliance and toxic issues” that continued “to impede the transitional government”, eight months after it was implemented. “Despite countless meetings among the Principals, despite countless press conferences, despite numerous correspondence and trips to SADC and SADC leaders and despite a SADC summit, the above issues remain outstanding,” said the statement issued on Friday, October 16. It laid out a litany of breaches, intransigence and recalcitrance from the ZANU-PF side: provincial governors had still not been appointed; the appointments of Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Attorney General had not yet been rescinded, despite their illegality; the deputy minister of Agriculture had not yet been sworn in; and the Global Political Agreement had not yet been reviewed, way past the 6-month point as was the agreement.

Tsvangirai went on to point out how ZANU-PF had failed to enact a paradigm shift to reflect the spirit of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), abusing and disrespecting it. More ominously, he cited “the extensive militarization of the countryside through massive deployment of the military and the setting up of bases of violence that we saw after the 29th of March 2008.” ZANU-PF had imposed more than 16,000 youth functionaries onto government payroll, who had been imposed on the government payroll, and there was continuation of “selective and unequal application of the rule of law”. ZANU-PF’s mouthpieces, The Herald newspaper and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation “continue to treat the MDC and our leaders in government as if they were a third-rate treasonous and sell-out element instead of a genuine and equal partner in the transitional government.”

In what was probably a painful acknowledgement of what many had already known about the marriage of convenience, Tsvangirai turned the scathing critique inward:

“On our part, we have papered over the cracks and have sought to persuade the whole world in the last eight months that everything is working.  We have sought to persuade our constituencies that the transitional government was on course and was the only business in town. In the process, we have put at stake the reputation, credibility and trust of our movement and to ourselves as leaders. We have done everything in order to make this government work and we have done so purely for one reason, the need to restore hope and dignity to our people; the need to give our people a new start and a new beginning.”

Tsvangirai’s tone was very assertive, emphasizing how it was the MDC that was supposed to be the dominant partner in the inclusive government: “The truth of the matter is that it is our Movement that won the election of 29 March 2008. It is our Movement that has the mandate of the people to govern this country. It is our Movement that has strategically compromised on that mandate by executing the GPA and by entering into the transitional government.  It is our Movement upon which the hope and future of millions of Zimbabweans is deposited.”

In September this year the MDC started consulting its membership and support base about the idea of whether to hang in there and try to work things out. On the MDC’s website, a poll started on September 24 asked if the party should abandon the inclusive government. As of October 17, 54.5 percent of 393 respondents advised against pulling out, over 45.5 percent who voted yes. According to the Mail and Guardian of South Africa, Tsvangirai asked for an emergency meeting with Mugabe following the indictment and jailing of Bennett on Wednesday. Mugabe is said to have refused. Tsvangirai in turn refused to convene a scheduled cabinet meeting. The Sunday Times of October 18 described rumors about a meeting between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai hours after Tsvangirai’s announcement on Friday, in addition to earlier rumors that Mugabe had been frantically attempting to meet Tsvangirai. Following the decision to disengage from the inclusive government, the MDC-T ordered all its cabinet ministers to pack up and leave their government offices and operate from their party’s headquarters, according to the Zimbabwe Times.

For many, it was just a matter of time before this unraveling was to get underway. For others, it is a disturbing trend of events for an arrangement that, however inconvenient and undesirable, had began to bear tangible fruit on the ground inasfar as the living conditions of ordinary Zimbabweans. The Zimbabwe crisis has not suffered a shortage of detailed, impassioned proposals and suggestions for how to resolve it. These have ranged from military options, from both inside agitation and outside Zimbabwe, to political settlements, such as the inclusive government, insisted upon by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which both ZANU –PF and the two MDC factions ended up agreeing upon. The monumental events of this past week are likely to unfurl that process all over again. Tsvangirai said it was now time to “assert and take our position as the dominant party in Zimbabwe,” even as the MDC-T were ceasing all collaboration with the ZANU-PF. It remains to be seen how this assumption of the MDC’s rightful place in government is going to be implemented.

Among the many proposals offered as potential ways of ending the Zimbabwe impasse, there has not been much said about nonviolent action. With the exception of a special report published in 2003 by the Washington DC-based United States Institute for Peace (USIP), none of the major think tanks and interested third parties have ever mentioned, or let alone paid attention to the issue of nonviolence as a plan of action capable of being a viable solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. This is at once curious and yet not surprising. Curious because not only has nonviolent action been successfully used in difficult contexts of political repression around the world, it has actually been adopted as a strategy by a number of groups in Zimbabwe, including the MDC itself, in its first six years. But it is also not surprising because despite the success nonviolent resistance has registered in a number of cases of repression around the world, it has not been as celebrated as military campaigns have, and continue to be. With the exception of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent movement in the first half of the century, first in South Africa and later in India, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Civil Rights Movement in the United States of the 50s and 60s, methods of resistance to political repression that rely on means other than violence receive less attention in the mainstream media.

The 2003 special report issued by the United States Institute for Peace was titled “Zimbabwe and the Prospects for Nonviolent Political Change.” The report was commissioned by USIP’s Research and Studies Program, and was written by three scholar-analysts who were living and working in Zimbabwe at the time. Their names were not provided, for reasons of their personal safety. With the term “Nonviolent Political Change” prominently gracing the title, the report offered a detailed description of events in 2003, most notably the strategies that the MDC and its partners had undertaken to pressurize Mugabe’s ZANU-PF into democratic reforms. The report stated that when civil society groups began to emerge in the 1990s, their main tactic was to use strategies of nonviolence to bring about change in Zimbabwe. Most of these strategies took the form of mass stay-aways, which paralyzed economic activity in some of Zimbabwe’s major cities. Beyond these mass stay-aways, however, it was not clear how these civil society coalitions and the MDC approached the concept of nonviolence in both its theoretical and strategic considerations. The report offered no definitions of what it termed ‘nonviolence’, nor did it cite any particular Zimbabwean proponents of nonviolence spelling out what specific approaches they would use, other than mass stay-aways.

Violence and Nonviolence in Zimbabwe

The most compelling evidence that there were Zimbabweans who espoused nonviolence as both principle and strategy appeared in an article written by Senator David Coltart and published on the news site NewZimbabwe.com in September 2006. The article was picked up by The New African in their May 2007 issue, which had a 17-page supplement dedicated to presenting various sides to the Zimbabwe story. The sponsored supplement of the May 2007 issue of the New African dedicated six articles to the issue of violence in Zimbabwe, two of them written by two members of the MDC affected by the violence from within their own ranks.

David Coltart is an MDC-M member of parliament from the Mutambara faction who has since become Zimbabwe’s Minister of Education, Sports and Culture. Citing both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Coltart wrote that the best way to deal with Mugabe’s authoritarianism was through nonviolent techniques. He traced his personal commitment to nonviolence to two brutal wars he had experienced. First was the war for independence, and second was the Gukurahundi, the massacre of Ndebeles in what Mugabe called a war against rebels, in the mid-1980s. “These experiences made me vow that I would do all in my power to prevent further conflict in Zimbabwe,” he wrote. Coltart pointed out that violence was endemic to Zimbabwean society, going back to the wars of the 19th century.

"Violence was used by Lobengula to suppress the Shona. Violence was used to colonise and the threat of violence was used to maintain white minority rule. Violence was used to overthrow the white minority. And since independence, violence as been used to crush legitimate political opposition."

Coltart added that a culture of impunity had taken hold, in which violence was used to achieve political ends, and the perpetrators were thriving on those victories won through violence. “As a result, violence is now deeply embedded in our national psyche. Political violence is accepted as the norm.” The MDC was different from other Zimbabwean political parties because of its commitment to ending political violence and promoting nonviolence as a principle, wrote Coltart. MDC members had at various times debated as to whether the brutality of Mugabe’s government could be encountered through nonviolence, however the MDC always maintained a “broad consensus that this was the only course open to us if we were to act in the long national interest.”

Coltart was anguished by the violence that was being perpetrated by members of the MDC, a development he argued was undermining the entire nonviolent strategy. On September 28, 2004, MDC youths were said to have attempted to murder Peter Guhu, MDC Director of Security. While this incident shocked Coltart, he was even more disturbed to learn that senior MDC officials were part of the attempted murder plot. An inquiry was carried out, but no action was taken against the members who had plotted the attempted murder. More violence was to follow in May 2005, when the same MDC youth were sent to assault other MDC members. In July 2006 MDC youth from Tsvangirai’s faction seriously injured a member of Mutambara’s MDC faction, Trudy Stevenson, stoning her in the head and breaking her arm. They also damaged the car Stevenson and other party members were traveling in. Other cases of political violence perpetrated by the MDC involved petrol bombings of police officers, some of whom incurred severe burn injuries.

Coltart wrote that if the MDC were to transform Zimbabwe into a better place, “we simply have to break this cycle of violence. We will find that if we do not stamp out violence in our ranks now, it will come back to haunt us.” The reason why ZANU-PF’s political violence had reached the proportions it had was because of the century-old trend, repeating itself and no one seemed to have learned the lesson that violence begets more violence. Coltart said that violence played right into the hands of ZANU-PF, whose sole purpose had been not only to intimidate but also to “provoke the opposition into a physical fight. The regime desperately needs a pretext to use all the power at its disposal.” Whatever mass-action the MDC and its partners were to plan needed to be “carefully organized by people who have a deep-rooted commitment to and understanding of nonviolent techniques,” he wrote. 

The MDC are not the only group espousing nonviolent techniques in Zimbabwe. The women’s group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) state in their mission statement that their goals are “based on the principles of strategic nonviolence.” When the group organized a protest to commemorate this year’s International Day of Peace on September 21 in Bulawayo, they were brutally attacked and dispersed by the police. Some onlookers threatened the police with physical violence in retaliation, but the group’s leaders stepped in and asserted the group’s nonviolent approach: “we are non-violent activists and any history should write that the people who disturbed the peace with violence were Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, not peaceful human rights defenders.”

Given the history of Zimbabwe and the role violence has played for more than a century, the idea of nonviolence would not be an easy one. One interesting irony is that even Robert Mugabe himself once read Mahatma Gandhi, and for a while contemplated nonviolent resistance, according to Mugabe biographer Heidi Holland (2008) in her book Dinner with Mugabe. The belief that Zimbabwe’s freedom could only be won through armed struggle was pervasive, probably given the brutality of the racist regime of Ian Smith. Speaking to Bill Sutherland and Matt Meyer in a 1992 interview for their book on Pan-Africanist peace perspectives, then Minister of Foreign Affairs Nathan Shamuyayira said the question of nonviolence as a tactic for Zimbabwe’s independence struggle was out of the question. Many felt that the victories Gandhi had achieved for India and Martin Luther King Jr. for civil rights in the United States could not be used as examples for Zimbabwe, whose context was far different. But according to Coltart, the MDC did view nonviolence as a viable response to ZANU-PF’s violence, even when members of the MDC did not always adhere to nonviolent principles.

That Senator David Coltart became the new Minister of Education, Sport and Culture in February 2009 was a particularly promising sign in light of the expectation for a new curriculum and a reformed educational system. Nonviolence education requires an intellectual framework to guide practical training and discipline, under a broader Peace Education curriculum and pedagogy. Several African countries have embarked on the incorporation of Human Rights Education into their school systems, through the efforts of educational Non-Governmental Organizations. Perhaps the most significant breakthrough came in September when seven African Ministers of Education met in Mombasa, Kenya, to discuss the incorporation of Peace Education into their school systems. While seven countries were able to attend the conference, the original invitation went to twelve countries, under the auspices of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). The twelve countries were Angola, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya (Host), Madagascar, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, and Uganda. Zimbabwe was curiously not on the list, although the conference was open to any interested country on the African continent. Handled carefully and properly, the introduction of Peace Education into the school systems of African countries could be the one deciding factor that might transform the educational landscape and make the school system responsive and relevant to actual African contexts.

Incorporating Peace and Nonviolence Education into the school systems of Zimbabwe and other African countries, not to say the rest of the world, is a long-term project requiring meticulous planning, consultation and deliberation. But Zimbabweans are looking for solutions for the immediate crisis also. Long term planning need not wait for immediate solutions first, nor can immediate solutions be considered a substitute for long term planning. If the nonviolence approach adopted by the MDC, WOZA and other Zimbabwean groups is going to bear fruit, there will be an urgent need to pay serious attention to lessons from other contexts where nonviolence had been attempted, learning from both the successes and failures.

Gandhi Today

Although not a mainstream ideology, nonviolent theory and practice are not new in Africa. As Desmond Tutu writes in the preface to Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan African Insights on Nonviolence, Armed Struggle and Liberation in Africa (Sutherland & Meyer, 2002), it was in South that Mahatma Gandhi developed his concept of Satyagraha, variously understood as a soul force that seeks truth through nonviolent action. Nonviolent action has therefore been a part of the strategies that South Africans have used to end apartheid since the late 19th century. In his autobiography titled Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah (1958) discussed how Gandhi’s concept of nonviolence influenced the strategies that Ghanaians used to win their independence in 1957 as the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to do so. Uniquely called Positive Action, Nkrumah trained members of his party in nonviolent techniques, and won Ghana’s independence without resorting to violence. Zambia’s first president Kenneth Kaunda was also a proponent of nonviolent action, and wrote a book about the predicament of nonviolence for independence movements faced with brutal, racist violence. Tanzania’s first president Julius Nyerere was also a proponent of nonviolence, as were other Pan-Africanist movements which adopted various nonviolent techniques even as they also flirted with violence when they deemed it necessary.

The morning of Saturday October 10th, the last day of this year’s PJSA annual conference, started with a plenary session. The session was titled ‘Gandhian Traditions’, and brought together three distinguished scholar-activists who study and teach Gandhian nonviolence. The first panelist to speak was Dr. Veena Rani Howard of the University of Oregon, who pointed out that in today’s world Gandhi’s values were considered ascetic, and were dismissed as quaint, and merely symbolic. The second speaker was Fr. Cedric Prakash, SJ, Director of the Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Fr. Prakash spoke about the challenges of mainstreaming the concept of Ahimsa, or nonviolence, in Gandhi’s own backyard which today is wracked by various kinds of violence. The panel’s third and last speaker was Dr. Michael Nagler from the Metta Center for Nonviolence Education, in Berkeley, California. Dr. Nagler pointed out that there had been a major shift in our thinking about nonviolence today. He said approximately 3.6 billion today lived in a region of the world where a major nonviolent event had occurred. He said this shift could also be seen in the study of science, with a noticeable turn toward the study of positive psychology in neuroscience. Nonviolence was now being taught in institutions across the world, and even the PJSA had made Nonviolence the theme for this year’s conference, observed Dr. Nagler.

As I write, the Gandhi-King Conference on Peacemaking will be underway next week in Memphis, Tennessee, an annual gathering, since 2004, of peace scholars and practitioners, activists and community leaders. Georgia congressman and former student leader during the Civil Rights Movement, Representative John Lewis is pushing legislation through congress to enact a bill named H.R. 3328: the Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act of 2009. If passed, the bill would fund research and collaboration amongst scholars and students in both India and the United States to promote peace and nonviolence around the world. Another bill also aimed at promoting peace and nonviolence in the United States and abroad is H.R. 808, initiated by Congressman Denis Kucinich for the establishment of a cabinet level Department of Peace and Nonviolence. Adding to the shift, the PBS television documentary series titled A Force More Powerful, produced by Steve York and Jack DuVall, and the accompanying book edited by Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall, catalogued no less than six major nonviolent revolutions, going back to the early 1900s up to the close of the century. That project helped tell the larger, if not less often told story of how nonviolent social change has been an important factor in 20th century struggles to end political repression.

If Dr. Nagler is indeed right about this shift, and there is good reason to believe he is, would it be too idealistic to imagine the role that nonviolence can play in seeking peaceful resolutions to some of the most difficult problems of violence and war that we are faced with today? And having seen the evidence for the presence of attempts to use nonviolent techniques in addressing the problems Zimbabwe is undergoing, what lessons might we draw from these attempts?

Lessons of Nonviolence

There are several tenets of nonviolent theory and practice that can help us begin answering the above two questions. There are noticeable differences between approaches that have suggested nonviolent strategies, and those that have not. The suggestion to use violent means to end the Zimbabwe impasse has gained traction, understandably so, given the frightening levels of violence that ZANU-PF has unleashed on members and supporters of the MDC and critiques alike. As Senator Coltart has pointed out, retaliation for this violence has played right into ZANU-PF’s philosophy of violent repression, a key lesson that nonviolence theory and practice teaches. 

As Senator Coltart has also argued, cycles of violence repeat themselves endlessly, even over hundreds of years. Nonviolent theory and practice, under the broader framework of Peace Studies, emphasizes the importance of studying the root contexts of problems in order to know how to address them. The Zimbabwe case has created such a revulsion for Robert Mugabe that to suggest a role for historical factors in leading to the present crisis has become passé. As Mahmood Mamdani observed in an essay in the London Review of Books in December 2008, the discourse on Zimbabwe turned into a dichotomous contention between two options: one either adored Mugabe, or one abhorred him. In his attempt to free the debate from such a binary, Mamdani suffered the fate of many who have made the argument for historical understanding of the roots of the problem, being dismissed as someone who was defending Robert Mugabe. Thus when Heidi Holland wrote her psychobiography of Mugabe, attempting to provide both a historical context and a psychoanalytical interpretation of why Mugabe turned from a hero to a villain, the result was a book whose description of the context that created Mugabe became something of a rare breath of honesty and a break from the vilification and demonization, which was nevertheless not totally absent.

Holland published an op-ed in the New York Times at the time her biography of Mugabe, Dinner With Mugabe, came out. The op-ed was titled ‘Make Peace with Mugabe,’ in which she pointed out that Robert Mugabe’s real quarrel was with the British, arising out of promises they had made, and had then reneged on. “Indeed, he told me that he was prepared to sacrifice the welfare of his country to prove his case against Britain,” wrote Ms. Holland, a point Mr. Mugabe buttressed in his recent CNN interview with Christian Amanpour in September 2009, when Mugabe told Amanpour one does not leave power because an imperialist has demanded thus: “You dig in.” Ms. Holland went on to suggest that for someone who was prepared to destroy his country just to make a point against an opponent, estranging and vilifying him the way the West was doing was equally reprehensible. “That he has an arguably justifiable complaint against a major Western power — namely the repudiation of the land reform pledge — is doubtless an embarrassment in the West. But that Britain and others choose to shun Mr. Mugabe rather than attempt to settle these differences is quite frankly reckless.”

As evidence of that recklessness, much has been said about “Smart sanctions,” whose devastating effects on the Zimbabwean economy, as a combination with economic mismanagement by ZANU-PF, have little that can be said to be smart about them. Not much is said about the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA), passed in the US Congress and Senate in January 2001 as S.494. Dismissed by much of the White liberal left and African critics of Mugabe as irrelevant to Zimbabwe’s economic crisis, that bill effectively prohibited the biggest international financial institutions and traditional bilateral donors from entering into any economic and financial relationships with the government of Zimbabwe. As provided in Section 3 of the Act, the terms “International Financial Institutions” and “Multilateral Development Banks” include all the global financial institutions that most African and other developing regions of the world have long depended on for loans, development aid and the day to day running of their governments. Included in these categories are the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Act also recommended requesting the compliance of the European Union, Canada and “other appropriate foreign countries” in maintaining the sanctions stipulated in the Act.

Love Thy Enemies, Including Robert Mugabe

Ms. Holland’s advice to the West may have been premised on the politics of realism and pragmatism, but it also points toward an important principle in nonviolent theory and practice. Both Gandhi and King preached that at the heart of principles of nonviolence was love; nonviolent activists protested against oppression and injustice whilst still being able to love and respect the perpetrator of those vices. Nonviolence strategies did not aim to defeat and humiliate an opponent, a piece of wisdom that allowed the British to leave India without ill feelings. It was this philosophy that also enabled the wider mainstream American public to understand and appreciate the Civil Rights struggle, leading to both the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and 1965 respectively. Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu extended this philosophy, framed in the African concept of uBuntu, as it facilitated the extension of forgiveness from Black South Africans toward White South Africans, and enabled a transition from White minority rule to a democratic dispensation that opened up political participation for all South Africans.

It is not very easy for many people to consciously imagine themselves forgiving Robert Mugabe and facilitating a new process of engagement with him, but neither does Mugabe show signs of a capability to do that himself. But therein lies one of the hardest principles of nonviolent theory and action as bequeathed to us by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Seeing nonviolence as both principle and strategy opens up new possibilities in thinking differently about the causes of the Zimbabwe crisis, and envisioning new solutions that represent a break from the intractable impasse that has clouded the minds of many. Zimbabwean peace activists have a lot to teach us about nonviolence, given the realities of what they go through every day. Nonviolent theory and practice teaches that local activists have a much better chance of effecting change in their own locality than activists coming in from outside, with no deeper knowledge of the issues and ties to the community. This does not mean outsiders have no role to play; rather it means outsiders need to show their solidarity based on respect of local knowledge, a consciousness and awareness of historical wrongs and their own complicity in that history, as well as a readiness to learn from the people of the area.

What Gandhi and King Would Advise

We can only imagine what Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King Jr.’s advice would have been toward dealing with the question of Zimbabwe. However several factors highlighted in this article offer key concepts in nonviolence theory and practice as a compelling alternative towards attempts to better understand and resolve problems of violent conflict anywhere in the world.  Some of the biggest struggles to end repression in the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century have been carried out using largely nonviolent means. One such untold story is how my own country Malawi waged a largely nonviolent struggle between 1992 and 1994 to rid itself of an entrenched thirty-year dictatorship.

In Zimbabwe, the MDC, WOZA and such other groups are keeping the traditions of nonviolent struggle alive, even as they learn new lessons about what works and what does not. Entrusting a crucial Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture to a strong, respected advocate of peace and principled nonviolence is a major step that has the potential to transform the role of education in how Zimbabweans and other African nations envision the future. The spirit of uMunthu/uBuntu is not completely dead in Southern Africa; in fact it offers a new framework for uMunthu-based peace education and nonviolence, built on endogenous epistemologies that transform themselves with changing times. Handled with the requisite care and sensitivity, the recent ADEA conference in Mombasa, Kenya, by seven African Ministers of Education to lay the foundation for a peace education curriculum in African school systems will be a major step in envisioning a different future for Africa.

Labels: , , , , ,

View blog reactions posted by steve sharra @ Monday, October 19, 2009

6 Comments:

At Friday, October 23, 2009 6:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks man, this might be part of the solution. I have just been watching "when people decide" a documentary of the use of non violence. the important issues are twofold for me first is the capacity to organise our communities behind a single cause which they hold dearly and the second is to raise the realisation that non violence does not mean in action its actually fighting back against oppressive regimes which can only subjugate us through armed force which Mugabe no doubt has. You can fight someone without hitting him back, for instance how much of our day to day activities prop up the junta we could merely withold our consent eg not buying the Herald if it insists on lying to us, refusal to buy a TV licence or business could just stop advertising on ZTV all these are things which are neither illegal or immoral yet in our power to do. the problem currently is selfishness esp by business if communities were empoered top realise that business depends on people then it would be easy to organise people from buying from businesses whose operations fund the oppression. Lastly Why is BITI paying for propaganda at ZBC Munya

 
At Wednesday, December 02, 2009 9:58:00 AM, Blogger Abi said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Wednesday, December 02, 2009 10:04:00 AM, Blogger Abi said...

Excellent and insightful article, Steve. As a personal admirer of Gandhi's nonviolent-style leadership, I appreciate the analysis. It is a disappointment to witness hard work go to waste, that is, if MDC actually abandons the "power-sharing" government. Seeing Morgan Tvangirai a couple of months ago travel around the world to seek funds for a country almost everyone had given up on was indicative of the man's desire bring about real change to Zimbabwe. There is, however, so much a party/person can take. This power-sharing deal hasn't been rosy and no one expected it to be. What with Prime Minister and President advocating different policies at some point i.e. land-ownership issues. I think Tsvangirai and his team should stick it out, if anything at all, for the people of Zimbabwe. Their persistence and endurance will accomplish good in the end.

 
At Wednesday, February 17, 2010 3:36:00 AM, Anonymous Bilge Kaan said...

Great blog!!I love Africa!!!
If you like, come back and visit mine: http://www.genchtakimi.hareketforum.com

Thanks,
Kaan from Turkey;)

 
At Friday, May 07, 2010 4:25:00 AM, Anonymous Term Papers said...

I have been visiting various blogs for my Term Papers Help research. I have found your blog to be quite useful. Keep updating your blog with valuable information... Regards

 
At Monday, May 31, 2010 1:17:00 PM, Anonymous take phentermine said...

I love zimbabve and Africa at all.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home


BlogCatalog