Teaching and learning civil resistance in West Africa

19 December, 2012

Oumar Ndongo and Mary Elizabeth King. (WNV/courtesy of author)

The real-life experience of African nonviolent struggles was important for Martin Luther King, Jr., who drew knowledge and encouragement from the civil resistance of Africans in Ghana, Kenya, Zambia and elsewhere in their quests for independence from colonial rule. In 1957 he visited the Gold Coast (soon to be renamed Ghana), with Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., U.N. official Ralph Bunche and A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. All were to participate in the independence celebrations of Ghana as a new nation, where protracted nonviolent struggle had been pursued in seeking free elections. African nonviolent campaigns, significant in the early and mid-20th century, remain equally so in the 21st century. The rest of the world has a great deal to learn from such campaigns, especially thanks to the central roles of women in resistance and peacemaking.

This coming year, along with Professor Oumar Ndongo, I’ll have the opportunity to teach a course on the nonviolent transformation of conflict for graduate students from Senegal and other parts of Africa at Universit