From the Roots to the Fruit: Nonviolence in Action Conference

TRANSCEND News, 26 Mar 2012

TRANSCEND Member Ela Gandhi – TRANSCEND Media Service

From 30 July to 4 August 2012 in Durban, South Africa


In 1994 South African regime  transformed from a racially based oppressive regime to a democratically elected inclusive regime.   This happened through hard-nosed negotiations between the various interest groups.  It was proclaimed to be a miracle.  It was nonviolence in action largely driven by the African National Congress and its formidable leadership, led by Nelson Mandela.

In 1912 the African National Congress was established by leaders such as Dr John Dube and others, advocating nonviolence as a dominant strategy to bring about change in the country of their birth.    ANC  has since followed this path through its nonviolent mass action in the country and through the formidable anti-apartheid  movement set up internationally

Civil society in many countries of the world has begun to realise that more lasting and better results are obtained through nonviolent action.   Many who resorted to violent actions have laid down their weapons and are opting for nonviolence.   Religious communities have reiterated the message of their scriptures of compassion, peace, equity, respect and love.    As environmental problems begin to dominate the lives and miseries of millions of people throughout the world the one dominant feature is a call to nonviolence.   The legacy of nonviolence established by Gandhi, King, and Luthuli is more relevant than ever.


Help to build a culture of nonviolence locally, nationally and i8nternationally.


To build on the lessons of the past in order to build an enduring culture of nonviolence towards creating a sustainable and healthy planet.

The theme of the conference is taking lessons from our roots and realising the benefits or fruits of these actions into the present context.

Mahatma Gandhi said,

“If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle; we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously the whole world is hungering”

Martin Luther King said,

“One of the great problems of mankind is that we suffer from a poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance.  The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. ….Our hope for creative living in this world house that we have inherited lies in our ability to re- establish the moral ends of our lives in personal character and social justice.  Without this spiritual and moral reawakening  we shall destroy ourselves in the misuse of our instruments….One of the best proofs that reality hinges on moral foundations is the fact that when men and governments work devotedly for the good of others, they achieve their own enrichment in the process….From time immemorial men have lived by the principle that self preservation is the first law of life.  But this is a false assumption.  I would say that the other-preservation is the first law of life. …The self cannot be self without other selves.”

The conference will thus focus on the following 4 areas:

  1. The legacies of Gandhiji, South Africa and Martin Luther King and others
  2. Pedagogy of nonviolence education
  3. The role of the media in furthering nonviolence
  4. In parallel sessions there will be a focus on youth and issues of modernisation, diversity, a culture of nonviolence and leadership.

1.   This conference therefore seeks to share skills and knowledge in:

  • Education and training experiences of various authorities on the subject
  • Learn about and raise awareness of non-violent struggles and techniques.
  • Learn about the benefits of  making the choice of nonviolence
  • Broaden and deepen understanding of nonviolence
  • Begin to Foster a culture of nonviolence in South Africa and globally
  • Help to  create a new generation of leaders embracing nonviolence as a basis.
  • Learn from our histories of nonviolence.
  • Help to strengthen the bond among those involved in work in the area of nonviolence.
  • Establish nonviolence groups on campuses and communities.

Who will attend:

The conference will involve a range of NGOs, Academics, youth and student organisations, community and religious organisations

The programme:

Monday:  30 July

Arrival of delegates and allocation of accommodation

Tuesday: 31 July

9a.m. to 10 a.m. Registration

10 a.m. Tea

10.30 a.m. Welcome and discussion of the purpose and nature of the conference:

10.30-10.45 The Mayor welcome and remarks from the City

10.45- 11.05 Prof. Ahmed Bawa welcome and remarks from the DUT,

11.05-11.20  Justice Vuka Shabalala perspectives of nonviolence and the experiences on the ground

11.20-11.40  Prof. Lafayette the Kingian experience and its importance

11.40-12.10  The Premier –The ANC’s legacy of nonviolent struggle

12.10- 1.00 questions and remarks


Opening with a Keynote address –The Gandhi Media Lecture- on Can the media play a role in promoting nonviolence?

11-12.30  Discussions in groups on key issues of how media can help to promote the building of a culture of nonviolence.

Address the following questions:

  1. What role does media play at present in promoting or not promoting nonviolence?
  2. What can it do differently to help create a culture of nonviolence?
  3. How can we influence media to accept this responsibility?

12.30 Report back to plenary

1.30 2.30  lunch

2.30- 3.30 Keynote speaker on Education –How can nonviolence be mainstreamed into education at all levels.

3.30 4.30 discussions on ways to mainstream nonviolence into our education system.

4.30 -5.30 Report back.

Day 2  Tuesday 12 June

9.a.m.  Key-note addresses ANC’s legacy of nonviolence

Martin Luther King’s Legacy of nonviolence

10.30   Tea

11.  Parallel sessions on various models of nonviolent struggles and their benefits or otherwise and the Roots of violence and how these can be addressed.  Discussions on the issues raised.

1.-2   lunch

2-4   Plenary reports and discussions of reports.

6. p.m. a drama

Day 3. Wednesday 13th June:

9.-12 Discussion in parallel sessions on developing and understanding pedagogy of nonviolence.

12-1 plenary report back

1-2. lunch

2-4 further papers on pedagogy of nonviolence

4-5 report back.

Day 4 Thursday 14th June Visit to  Phoenix Dube Farm Shembe and Inanda Seminary and Luthuli house.

Thursday evening Gandhi Development Trust Awards presentation.

Friday –A tour to Pietermaritzburg and Lions Park.

Saturday/Sunday Departure.


United states:  Charles Alphion and Bernard Lafayette

South African: Ela Gandhi, Crispin Hemson, Alan Khan, Relebohile Moletsane, Shakeel Ori, Ashish Ramgobin, Jairam Reddy, Lavern Samuels,Vasantha and Robin Sewlal.

Information for presenters:

If you wish to present at the conference, please indicate below:


I wish to present in the following format… Please indicate with an X Topic
A paper (20 minutes)
A workshop (40 minutes)
A panel discussion (15 minutes)

Abstracts for academic stream

An abstract of not more than 200 words must be sent to by 31st March 2012.  Each abstract should indicate clearly the theoretical framework, the relevant methodology, findings and the connection to action for nonviolence.

There is a limited number of spaces available for the academic stream.  A specific requirement is that each abstract addresses the ways in which the research findings address action that promotes nonviolence.

Please write to:



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 26 Mar 2012.

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