James Lawson Institute

Nonviolent Struggle in Africa: Essentials of Knowledge and Teaching

June 4, 2017 Essentials 0

Mary E. King, “Nonviolent Struggle in Africa: Essentials of Knowledge and Teaching,” Africa Peace and Conflict Journal 1, no. 1 (December 2008): 19-44.

Nonviolent struggle, also called civil resistance or nonviolent resistance, is often misunderstood or goes unrecognized by diplomats, journalists, and teachers not trained in the technique of nonviolent action; to them, events ‘just happen’. To the contrary, however, nonviolent struggle requires that practitioners, who take deliberate and sustained action against a power, regime, policy, or system of oppression, consciously reject the use of violence in doing so. The technique of nonviolent action has been employed successfully in diverse conflicts—such as abolition of the trade in human cargo, establishment of trade unions and workers’ rights, voter enfranchisement, colonial rebellions and national independence, interstate strife, and religious conflicts—all without resort to violent measures, guerrilla warfare, or armed struggle. Mohandas K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr, were emboldened by the collective nonviolent action of Africans in Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, and elsewhere, in the nationalist drive for independence. If violence is to be significantly reduced or abandoned in acute conflicts today, a realistic alternative must be presented, ac- cepted, and understood. Contemplated in this article is the need for study, documentation, and teaching of nonviolent strategic action as a technique for securing justice that lends itself to a host of applications. As Gandhi and King learned from the African nonviolent struggles of their times, and relied on observations of African campaigns to improve their sharing of knowledge, so can the rest of today’s world.[…]

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