#EndSARS protesters in Nigeria. (Wikimedia/Asokeretope)

Spreading the principles and truth of nonviolence in Nigeria

Nigerian activist and author Amos Oluwatoye discusses his path to nonviolence and using ethnic traditions and storytelling to raise awareness among young activists.
#EndSARS protesters in Nigeria. (Wikimedia/Asokeretope)

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Nigerian writer and activist Amos Oluwatoye joins Stephanie and Michael on Nonviolence Radio this week to talk about his path to nonviolent activism. He traces his path through radical Marxism and student activism to religious activism to a kind of synthesis and expansion of them all. At university, acting as a leader of his community, Amos was pushed to make difficult choices, choices in which legitimate anger had to be channeled patiently and constructively – nonviolently. He explains how he has learned to have faith in the power of nonviolence, how he has worked for it consistently, even in the face of violent oppression by police and government.

We also hear Amos reflect on the history and tradition of nonviolence within his ethnic group, the Yoruba. He talks about the Yoruba practice of respecting elders and describes one beautiful method of conflict resolution:

If there is a conflict in a community, to set time, the first set of people should go and meet the traditional rulers. We still have elders that resolve conflicts. They have various strategies and tactics. We start with storytelling. If there is a conflict between one family and another, concerning who possesses a particular land, an elder can start with a story of how the forefathers of the conflicting partners – how they were friends in the olden days, what they did together.

Listening to our elders (and more broadly, listening to each other), learning through stories – these are simple yet powerful practices that Amos brings to life, revealing them to be accessible and effective nonviolent strategies for all of us.

Stephanie: Welcome everybody to another episode of Nonviolence Radio. I’m your host, Stephanie Van Hook. I’m here with my co-host and news anchor, Michael Nagler. We’re from the Metta Center for Nonviolence in Petaluma California.

Today’s episode of Nonviolence Radio takes us all the way over to Nigeria. We speak with Amos Oluwatoye. He’s a sociopolitical philosopher, a nonviolent revolutionary, and a writer.

He’s the author of a resistance novel, “The Journey of a Generous Man,” a creative piece that challenges the idea of material generosity among individuals and nations with a fundamental truism that says that the greatest act of generosity is to tell humanity the truth.

He’s a contributing writer with the Minds of the Movement blog from the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict. He’s a research director with Building Blocks for Peace. And he is a volunteer with the Metta Center for Nonviolence where he’s helping to document nonviolence around the world.

In this part of the interview, Amos gives us a bit of background of what drew him into nonviolence; it has to do with his learning about socialism and Marxism. Through studying the principles of Karl Marx, Amos puts them into contrast with the teachings of Jesus, as not a religious figure so much as a teacher of nonviolence.

Amos Oluwatoye (Twitter/@oluwatoyetruism)

Amos: I started when I was doing my undergraduate studies at Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba, Ondo State, Nigeria in 2002 and 2006. I joined a group called The Democratic Socialist Movement during my undergraduate study, where I was studying philosophy. The group believes in the theory of Karl Marx, that if there can be a revolution in the society, the revolution must be violent.

It also negated your religion, since religion is “the opium of the people.” In other words, they were trying to tell us that religion has made weak Africans. Gullible. If we have to fight for our rights, we have to be assertive. We have to be kind of violent, and other communist ideology.

During my undergraduate studies, I took a course in political philosophy where I was taught Marxism. As I was reading about Marxism, I got to a point, I became skeptical. Is this the kind of idea I want to follow? I tried it then. I was already a Christian. I looked at a philosophy of Jesus Christ, and I looked at how he achieved what he needed to achieve without using violence.

And I was wondering, if a man could achieve what he needed to achieve without using violence, then I can achieve what I need to achieve without the use of violence. Then I became a student activist on campus there. I also became the Pioneer President, Faculty of Arts Students Association, where it gave me the leverage to speak for the voiceless, for the student and oppressed, either by lecturers, or by their mates.

So, what we did in those days is that we would write articles, and we’d post those articles publicly, trying to sensitize the public, “This is our position.” But something happened that changed my orientation about communism, Karl Marx, socialism or whatever. Something happened. The best thing that happened was that I was given a carryover during my last year in university. But I knew that a carryover was orchestrated by some lecturers because I fought for the students.

A certain amount of money should not be taken away from them. Why? Because the students, they struggled to come to the university. And at the later end of the semester, some kind of money the lecturers demand that we purchase a book that is not actually relevant to what we study.

So, I thought that the carryover was orchestrated. And all the students – they knew that a carryover that I was given was orchestrated by some lecturers, which implies that I would not graduate. It means I’m not going to pass out with my mates.

And I started thinking of Karl Marx. I started thinking of communism. It looks as if these people understand the language of violence. Should I go ahead? Should I stay and embrace communism?

My colleagues in the movement who are also members of the Democratic Socialist Movement who are also students, they came to me. They told me, “Just give us an order. Give us the command, and we are going to close the university gates. We send all the lecturers out of the lecture theater. And we are going to close the school today.” They were only waiting for me to order a war.

And I stood at the Faculty of Arts building, in Adekunle Ajasin University, and I was thinking before I knew, should give them the order? Is there a better way for me to do it and achieve the same result?

But before I knew, a lady came, and she started shouting – because then I was popularly known as Zeno. Zeno was an Eleatic philosopher. We read a history. So, “Zeno, why don’t you give us the order? Let us move ahead. Let’s close the school gates. Let us destroy everything.” I kept quiet. I knew if I ordered a war, that would have been, you know, violence in the school.

And before I know, a voice started speaking to me. “Do you want to follow the philosophy of Karl Marx or do you want to follow me?” I knew it was the voice of God. “Do you want to follow the philosophy of Karl Marx, or do you want to follow my philosophy?” I didn’t say anything.

All the students, they came around. They went and checked my results. “Oh, this guy has a carryover because he fought for us.” You know, I was like a pitiable somebody. I was somewhat pitiable, you know?

I’m moving on campus, they’re saying, “Oh this guy’s not graduating. He’s not graduating. He’s going to stay an extra year because of what he did.”

Then, I went on hiatus. I started praying. I fasted for three days. Then, the vice chancellor was changed. And after the vice chancellor was changed, the new vice chancellor came in and said, “Anybody that is supposed to graduate that only had carryover in a two-unit course – that had a carryover in a two-unit course, should be allowed to go.” That was just a miracle.

And I remember, I achieved what I needed to achieve without the use of violence. It means that the principle of nonviolence is a spiritual principle. It is beyond this world. It is beyond human comprehension. That is why very few people apply it. And that is why so many people find it very difficult to believe it. That is actually what brought me into nonviolence.

Nonviolence through the church

I felt that the best way – or one of the best ways for me to understand nonviolence is through the church. I became highly dedicated to the church. I started seeing a revolutionary in the personality of Jesus Christ. I believe that if I have to transform the society, I can do it through the church.

But it came to a point in my life, you know, I understood that we are not a light of the church, we are the light of the world, too. That revelation gave me the courage to move beyond the church. If I have to change the church, then I will not be [unintelligible] because I am not a light of the church, I am the light of the world. Then, I need to get out of the church.

Another person that inspired me was Martin Luther King Junior. He was in a church. He needed to get out of the church. So, from there, even in my service in the church as a youth president, as a youth pastor, I do quote the words of Martin Luther King, the words of Mahatma Gandhi. The words of this nonviolent revolutionary.

I also got to a moment in my life, I had to join the local politics in my local government, in Lagos State. Where I had to speak for the voiceless. I had to agitate for the people that were downtrodden. I had to participate in politics. I spoke expressly against corruption in the local government. We tried to use nonviolence.

And ever since then, my soul had been looking for the opportunity, a platform, to apply the nonviolent principles for societal change. I got a job, but I was not fulfilled. I knew something was missing. For almost eight to ten years, I knew something was missing.

But I caught myself. I caught myself during the #EndSARS movements. The movement occurred on October 20, 2020. The #EndSARS movement. It was an eye opener for me. I saw the need – why do the Nigeria youth need to understand the principle of nonviolence? Why? Because the movement itself was short-lived because the activists lacked the principles, the strategies, and the tactics of nonviolence.

And I wrote an article concerning that, which I believe some activists and others have read, [unintelligible] is the truth. I have been applying that through writing articles about nonviolence.

#EndSARS movement

Stephanie: For those of us unfamiliar with the #EndSARS movement, I asked Amos to give us some more background about that, as well as his analysis of other struggles where nonviolence has been tried or applied and some of his analysis about those applications.

Amos: The #EndSARS movement is actually about the movement against police brutality in Nigeria. For seven decades, the Nigerian police have been mercilessly treating the young Nigerians on the streets without – several situations where a police officer will come to you because you are young, and you are rich. You get arrested. Your properties will be seized from you.

In 2017, a young man was illegally arrested in Nigeria. His property was taken from him by the police officer, and he was detained. That brought the movement, the #EndSARS movement, to the streets of Twitter. That was where the hashtag began. #EndSARS. The formula of SARS is a Special Anti-Robbery Squad. It is a unit of the Nigerian police force.

Their purpose is to combat crime in the state. But unfortunately, these people have misplaced priorities, where they go after young rich Nigerians, because of the economic situation of the country, is to fill their pockets.

So, something happened in 2020, on October 3rd. A young man was allegedly shot in Delta State. And the video went viral all over the state in Nigeria. And that brought the #EndSARS movement from the street of Twitter to the street of Nigeria.

Protesters in 25 of the 36 states in Nigeria, they drew out to campaign against the brutality of the Nigerian police force. Unfortunately, because of lack of resilience and the ability to maintain nonviolent discipline, the government of Nigeria took advantage because during the movement there were a lot of protests from one state to the other.

International bodies, organizations were informed about the situation. We had agent provocateurs, spoilers of movements. These people were probably paid by the government, probably paid by one organization or the other. They joined the protesters. Then they started inciting violence. Then, it gave the Nigerian government a legal ground to violently repress the protesters.

Of all the protests that took place in the 25 states in Nigeria during the movement in October 2020, the protests in Lagos State were unique. Popularly known as the Lekki protests, the protesters picketed at the Lekki Toll Gates. The toll gate was a major source of revenue for the governments. So, it was painful for protesters to picket for almost more than a week.

So, the government thought of a tactic and brought in the military officers, the police officers. Just because of the inability to maintain nonviolent discipline. The soldiers were shooting. Everyone was destructive. And at the end of the day, the hoodlums took over.

So, it now gave the Nigerian government a legal ground to say, “This is not a nonviolent movement. This is a violent movement.” It gave them the opportunity to violently repress against the protesters. A lot of people were killed. Several youth were killed.

In Nigeria, in October 2020 until now. The protest is still on in Twittter. The youth of Nigeria are still agitating for justice. We still have one, two, or three cases of police brutality in Nigeria and the youth are not backing down.

But my desire is that the youth should understand the principle of truth and nonviolence to achieve the goal and objective of the movement. Thank you.

Michael: Amos, that was a really stirring story. It was wonderful. I was struck by the parallel in your development to the life of Martin Luther King because he also started by getting into Marxism. And he also realized that the use of violence was going to be counterproductive. And that’s when he turned to Gandhi and discovered nonviolent principles.

Nigerian protest movements

Amos: Presently, we have an agitation by the Indigenous people of Biafra, agitating for the Biafra Republic. The Biafra group is a separatists group in the southeastern region of Nigeria. They are [unintelligible]. Political marginalization of the Nigerian government.

I would like to start a little bit from the background. In 1967, the leading military officer in the southeast, Odumegwu Ojukwu, due to the fact that he was politically sidelined, declared the Republic of Biafra, which led to a Nigerian civil war between 1967 and 1970.

The Biafra people are the Igbo people. They are the ethnic group called the Igbo in Nigeria. After that, in 1970, the war ended, and we had a united Nigeria again because the Biafran soldiers, they surrendered.

But ever since then, no Igbo man has been the president of Nigeria. Ever since then, there has been a kind of political marginalization in the southeastern region of Nigeria. So, that brought about a Biafra agitation. They are calling for a referendum through protests, but they want to be separated from Nigeria.

Presently, the person leading the group is known as Nnamdi Kanu. He was recently arrested for holding violence in the southeastern region of the country. But unfortunately for the Igbo group, which is the Indigenous people of Biafra movement, they had several challenges that they didn’t have enough resilience to withstand.

So, in 2020 they broke the nonviolent discipline. They formed an armed group with the purpose of protecting the people in the southeastern region from the violent Fulani herders. They’re pastoralists that move with cows from one state to another. And in the political scene in Nigeria, the Fulani is also the top in the charts. Presently, they have a president who is Muhammadu Buhari. So, as a result of that, there’s a possibility that at talks, that they could – they could do and undo.

So, the people in the southeastern region saw it as a kind of oppression. The Fulani herders would come to their community. The cows would eat their crops. And they would attack the people in the community, kill the people in the community. Then Indigenous people of Biafra thought it wise that they needed an armed group.

But that was the greatest mistake of the movement. Because immediately when the armed group was created, it attracted violent oppression from the government. It also gave the government a legal ground to attack the group.

We have the Igbo Biafra diaspora in UK, in the United States that are still protesting for a referendum. But unfortunately in the southeastern region, these are the principles, the theory of nonviolence. People tend to withdraw from a movement that is violent. And it seems that as a result of the security challenges, the Christian of the [Ham] group, known as the ESN, the Eastern Security Network, has dropped. People have started clamoring for peace. So, that is how a movement who were actually nonviolent, that is how they can become violent and defeated goal and objective of the movement.

Nonviolent traditions in Nigeria

Stephanie: While Nigeria is an extremely diverse country with different language groups, different ethnic groups by the hundreds, I asked Amos if there are any traditional forms of conflict resolution embedded within the Nigerian culture that can be learned from in nonviolent struggles.

Amos: In Nigeria we have multiple ethnic groups. We have about 400 ethnic groups with people speaking different languages, unique cultures with unique traditions. The principled nonviolent calling to the ethnic group I belong to is a kind of communal in nature. It’s communal in nature.

I’m from the Yoruba Tribe. They believe in people coming together and living peaceably with each other. And this is a tribe that has been one of the major reasons why there is still peace – there’s still peace in Nigeria today because the Yoruba’s nature will not embrace conflict. If there is a situation where they need to come in, they will come in through it in a nonviolent way.

For example, I told you about what is happening in the southeastern region of Nigeria. In the north, we have a series of violence and there’s an issue of political violence. The best thing we do is to draw back – is to draw back. It has been in the tradition of the tribe, that if you look at marriage, nonviolent also. You will see that when we get married, we get married to the family of the bride and the groom also. So, if there is a case of violence, the family of the bride, the family of the groom, we all come together to resolve the conflict. So, that is a traditional way we go about solving – resolving arguments.

We also resolve violence through respect. We respect elders a lot, you know? That some things we do in Nigeria, we do it as [unintelligible]. These people, do they actually know what they are doing? [Unintelligible] just need to prostrate an elder, you know?

When you offend an elder – when you offend an elder, you’re [balan 00:37:59.2] Irrespective of your rightness, you are right to go to the elder and prostrate to the elder. Then the elder will now prefer you. The elder will now bless you. So, that was one of the traditional ways we resolve conflicts – we resolve conflict in Yorubaland.

And also, we also have a conflict of inheritance with the Yoruba tradition as a solution also. In some tribes in Nigeria the men of the house, you know, there’s a kind of discrimination against females. When the head of the family dies, in some tribes, they will say the first son should inherit the properties. But in Yorubaland, in Yoruba ethnic group, there is a provision that the daughter has a place in inheritance. There is a tradition of females in the family – even when the female is married, there is a provision in the tradition that a female should also inherit their father’s property. That is a traditional way with conflict.


But a challenge we are having, concerned that – let me use the word, is it governmentalism? Is it equal to democracy? People are now ignoring the fact that the traditional system can resolve conflicts because of the kind of – let me say kind of violent – I expect violent judgment, going to the tradition, the community leaders.

Okay, let’s say, for example, someone is [unintelligible], and they go to the community – if it’s not resolved at the community level, they have to go to the government. They have to go to the police or get a lawyer. But that does not – that will not remove the facts that the traditional system will resolve conflicts. It’s no longer – it’s not [unintelligible] still existing. It actually exists.

If there is a conflict in a community, to set time, the first set of people should go and meet the traditional rulers. We still have elders that resolve conflicts. They have various strategies and tactics. We start with storytelling. If there is a conflict between one family and another, concerning who possesses a particular land, an elder can start with a story of how the forefathers of the conflicting partners – how they were friends in the olden days, what they did together.

So, that kind of storytelling helps to resolve a kind of conflict. So, we still have a traditional way of resolving conflict. It’s still working.

The journey of a generous man

Stephanie: Amos is the author of a resistance novel called The Journey of a Generous Man. I asked him to describe this book for us.

Amos: The novel is about visiting [unintelligible] that is actually enslaving people of Nigeria. The novel is an attack of materialism, a fable of the truth. In that novel, I have that the greatest act of generosity is to tell humanity the truth. I also have five other resources given to Africa, given to Nigeria by America and the Europeans. Those resources will not liberate the people from poverty. It will not liberate my people from the shackles of slavery.

Given enough materialism without the truth, we’ll not allow resources to trickle down to the poor. So, in that novel, I have here that the greatest act of generosity is to tell humanity the truth.

My utmost desire is that the Nigerian youth, the activism in Nigeria will understand the principles of nonviolence and truth. There can be no peace in the society without nonviolence and truth. My people have lived for decades under political, social, and economic slavery. And I pray to God to give me the enablement to cause societal change through the truth and nonviolence. Thank you.

Stephanie: For those of you just tuning in, you’re at Nonviolence Radio. I’m Stephanie Van Hook and we’ve been speaking with Amos Oluwatoye all the way from Nigeria. He’s a sociopolitical philosopher and a writer as well as a nonviolent revolutionary.

We turn now to the Nonviolence Report with Michael Nagler from the Metta Center for Nonviolence.

Nonviolence Report

Michael: Greetings, everyone. This is Michael Nagler of the Metta Center for Nonviolence with the Nonviolence Reports. And I’m going to range around to different topics and make a few comments on them here and there, as is our usual procedure.

First, of course, on everybody’s mind nowadays is Ukraine. And a recent article in CNN is entitled Defiance and Disobedience are Flourishing in Russian Held Ukraine.

So, it is in the areas east of the country which have already fallen under Russian control and the fighting is over. But as we, in the nonviolence world, know, the fighting is only kind of a preliminary. What happens when you have occupied a country? And, of course, countries don’t like being occupied. People really cannot be held down if they insist on having their freedom and are willing to make sacrifices for it.

And of course, in Ukraine, there are two traditions flying behind it, which are – it’s very, very helpful because it’s hard to just kind of invent nonviolence on the fly. You need experience, you need traditions, to give you inspiration and information about how to organize, and so forth.

So within Ukraine itself, in 2004 and 2005, so less than 20 years ago, there was what’s called famously the Orange Revolution. Pomarancheva revoliutsiia, I think. Ukrainians, please forgive my pronunciation. And this was a struggle that, like many nonviolent struggles, started off with a single issue about a single person, but it was sitting on top of a mass – a volcano of discontent about many other issues.

So, in this case, it was Viktor Yanukovych who was the president of Ukraine, and he rejected ties with Europe and that was the issue, and the person. But it went way beyond that.

So recently more recently, there’s also uprisings in Ukraine against Russian rule in 2013 and 2014 and Open Democracy reports – I want to quote this because it’s just been so true, and it’s been an issue that we at Metta have been struggling to bring to the public’s attention for a long time.

So here’s the quote, “As always, the news media were engorged with scenes of barricades and burning tyres. But while violence was eye candy for the television networks, it was the exception and not the rule in the 88-day struggle that placed Ukraine back on the road to genuine democracy.”

Which, as we now know, has to be defended. The price of liberty is eternal freedom. We saw that in Sudan and many other places. But the point here is that the mass media do not educate the general public about what nonviolence is, how it has proceeded – even the raw description of the events is mostly missing.

So, coming back to today, there’s one little episode I would like to share with you. In a city called Nova Kakhovka, there was an elderly woman who was having a dispute – a crowd was in dispute with Russian troops. And this elderly woman brought out a broom and a dustpan. By way of saying, you know, I guess we’re going to sweep you up. Or she may have been saying, “You better clean up the rubble that you’ve made in Kharkiv, in Khorol and so many others.” Well, not too many others, fortunately, but drastic devastation in Mariupol and other places.

So, on the one hand, you could say this was only symbolic action, but there is a role for symbolic action, namely when people need to find themselves and find their strength and courage and inspiration. And I think it definitely filled that role.

So, I’m really moving around now, going to India. There are issues about the farming protests that are still going on. But what I want to look at first is a communal tension issue that – something that took place in north India in several states during a festival known as Ram Navami. Navami means nine. So, this is nine days celebration of the God Rama, who has unfortunately often served as a symbol of Hinduism versus other sects.

So, communal violence broke out. And in this state, in Punjab, a woman named Madhulika Rajput became a human shield for 15 Muslim shopkeepers to save their lives. They were stuck, the shopkeepers were, during riots after they closed their shops down and in the city mall about 600 meters away from a place where serious violence had broken out.

And she invited them in, and when rioters asking whether there was anyone hiding there, she quickly locked the door from the inside to save the shopkeepers. And it succeeded. The disturbance eventually subsided. It’s normally the case, and we can know this and use this, that nonviolence has what’s called more firmesa permanente, more stick-to-it-iveness, more commitment than the commitment to violence can ever elicit in people. It’s just human nature.

But this does remind me of episodes that took place in Kashmir, I believe back in 2002 when there was again rioting between Muslims and Hindus. A Hindu woman took in a number of Muslims and was hiding them under her puja table. It was this table where you have Hindu gods that each Hindu household has, and the Muslims were under that.

And the howling mob came to her door. She was standing in front of the door of her little place, and they said, “We think you’re hiding Muslims in there.” She said, surprisingly, “Yes, I am.” And they said, “Well, we want them out.” And she said, in words that should really echo through history. She said, “First, kill me, then you may enter.” And stood there defenseless. And, of course, they simply turned and went away.

And that’s approximately what happened here. After about two and a half hours, some of the people’s relatives came and rescued them and the violence was averted.

Let me look now at some less fraught, less intense issues that are lower down on the escalation curve. I hope some of you are familiar with that model. It’s a curve where you plot the escalation of conflict and the rising of tensions, the greater increase towards the use of physical violence against time. And you get kind of a saddle curve that goes shooting up.

And in this model, which you can find on Metta Center’s website, the escalation curve we divided it for convenience sake. But I think it is very convenient and very useful. We divided that escalation into three stages.

There’s a stage when the parties are in dispute, to be sure, but they are still talking to one another. But then things get worse. And what is the main thing that gets worse in this case? It’s the dehumanization. That the decrease in the willingness, the capacity, to recognize the opponent as human with oneself. When that gets worse, the conflict increases.

So you go to a second stage where the opponent is no longer listening to your demands. No longer giving you what you need. And then you use satyagraha, Gandhi’s great discovery of nonviolent resistance, which by now is getting to be pretty well known.

And there is a third stage, which is really kind of an extension of the second stage. And this is something that we hope no one will ever really have to do. But it’s good to know that it’s there so that you’re not without a final recourse.

And that final recourse is to say, look, we’re not going to live in the world that you’re asking us to live in. And Gandhi, for example, fasting and several occasions, I think four occasions, saying, “I am not going to take food until this is addressed,” be it fake representation in voting or whatever. And of course, because of the great love and respect in which he was held by millions of people, that was a powerful method, and it worked.

But as we’ve developed here at Metta, there are some rules to make sure that it is going to be successful and not a risk – a needless risk of human health and safety.

One of them is you have to be the right person. You know, if you can’t have the trust of people that you are a selfless individual, you are not grandstanding, you’re doing this because of your keener sense of justice, it won’t work, because, you know, there aren’t any Gandhis anymore. But there’s a matter of degree here. So that’s one thing. You have to be the right person.

Then you have to be fasting – I’m not going to say against persons. You’re directing your fast at people who also have to be the right audience. In other words, what Gandhi actually said, you should only use it against the lover. I think what he meant was in simple political terms, people who care enough about your humanity to care whether you live or die, or at least to have empathy for the suffering that you’ve undertaken.

The third criterion is it has to be the last resort. You have to have tried less drastic means.

Another criterion is you have to be giving the opponent a way out. That you’re not just saying we don’t like you, we’re not going to play ball. But here’s a demand. You have to make a concrete demand that they can fulfill to get you to desist from the fast.

So, moving on to some very different issues now. I’d like to talk to you about an outfit at the University of Rochester, the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at Rochester. The director, long-term director, a very good friend of ours. Kit Miller has recently stepped down and handed the reins over to Gwen Olton. It is a wonderful outfit.

Like many organizations today, they focus on youth, which I think is a good idea. And they emphasize constructive program. In fact, they’re taking constructive program literally and building a house. They’re calling it their Gandhi house.

I also want to mention, because I’m a very dedicated EV driver for many years, that in September of 2019 there were roughly a dozen workers in a city – in a part of Oslo in Norway, breaking ground on a big construction site. But there’s something strange here. So there they are, widening a busy street into a pedestrian zone. They’re using powerful machinery. They’re breaking up and lifting slabs of asphalt. But the equipment was so quiet that nearby cafés and restaurants didn’t even close their front doors, and passers-by stopped to pose for photos and ask questions and give their wholehearted support.

And so, though it was very cold here we’re talking Oslo, Norway, in September, the crew found the work energizing. And why? Because they were using the world’s first zero emission construction site. They were using only electric machinery, including elevators.

So the project avoided nearly 100,000 kilograms of CO2 emissions. That’s one important parameter. But it also made for a very satisfying way of working, which was non-disruptive and not violent. As Gandhi once said, undue noise can be a form of violence.

So, moving on to other issues altogether now there is a resource I’d like to recommend to you called The Conversation. It’s an online resource. And they have a number of interesting articles, just like nonviolence news and other sources.

And recently they had a very interesting statement by scientists. Scientists are an important, influential group. They should be more influential. But that’s a whole different subject. But they do have their authority with which they speak. And now they have done something very interesting. Here they are, scientists. Their work is research. But they have called for a moratorium on climate research until governments take real action. I really think this is an important move. In other words, what is the point of our providing you with information, if you’re not going to use it?

That can be really very telling. I’m remembering some years ago when I was still at University of California – and I’ll mention that era again in a second – I had a colleague who is a really distinguished scholar on Chinese, Chinese history.

And Franz, at one point, stopped researching and stopped publishing, which is a dangerous move in a research university like the University of California. He was at Berkeley. The name was Franz Schurmann. And he said, “I’m not going to give you any more information as long as you keep misusing it.” The issue then, of course, was the Vietnam War and the fact that the more he was able to teach about Far East Asia or Southeast Asia, the more there was a likelihood that his information would be misused.

So, these are really two very good examples now of scientists stepping out of the pure research, “role.” And recognizing that they have a role in society, and recognizing the power of information.

There’s also, you may remember, the old Plowshares Group with the Berrigan brothers. They’ve been fighting for disarmament for over 40 years now. And recently, a number of nuns have faced prison terms because of what they’ve done by way of getting into weapons bases. And in some cases, even damaging equipment.

So, that’s the old issue of when is it appropriate, when can it be considered nonviolent to do property destruction? I think, myself, that in this case it certainly was appropriate, following all of the guidelines I just mentioned for fasting. But also the fact that they were, of course, willing to do this openly and take on the punishment, that is the key to the success of civil disobedience.

So finally, I wanted to mention that universities have been increasingly corporatized, both public and private universities. They have been steadily moving away from their mission – let’s say, a mission driven model, to market driven models. Where profit, branding, and revenue generating is prioritized. And, of course, this is getting much worse now because of the skyrocketing costs of education. Ridiculous and embarrassing things are going on on some university campuses. A water-themed campus park is one of them.

So, this is all increasing their operational costs, and they are pouring money into athletic programs, particularly football and men’s basketball, while lowering their instructional costs, which is, of course, what universities were originally for.

I hope next week to join you with some more encouraging and more upbeat news. But I think those are the issues good for us to know about at present.

Thank you very much.

Stephanie: You’ve been listening to Nonviolence Radio. We want to thank our mother station KWMR, to our guest today, Amos Oluwatoye, to Matt Watrous, Annie Hewitt, Bryan Farrell. Our show is transcribed and archived at the Metta Center for Nonviolence’s website, as well as WagingNonviolence.org. And you can find us also at the podcasting channels of your choice including iTunes and Spotify. Please give us a thumbs up rating there.

We want to thank our listeners and our radio stations over at the Pacifica Network. And to everyone out there, until the next time, please take care of one another. Bye-bye.

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