for tomorrow

NMMU News

17/08/2015

As part of an engagement project funded by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU)’s Centre for Academic Engagement and Collaboration, the NMMU Department of Political and Conflict Studies is bringing together facilitators of the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). The facilitators from different parts of South Africa will share their AVP experiences with academics, members of local NGOs and the general public at a colloquium on Friday, 21 August 2015, at the North campus Conference Centre.

AVP is a non-profit educational organisation which began non-violence training in prisons in the USA in 1975. This prison training soon revealed that the violence in prisons is merely a distilled version of the violence in society and that nonviolence training is needed as much, or more, in the outside community. AVP has since spread to 60 countries worldwide and is currently used in government corporations, NGOs, schools, universities, prisons, religious organisations and communities.

As Prof Lyn Snodgrass, department head, observes: “The greatest threat to our democracy and sustainable peace in South Africa is the scourge of violence in all its manifestations – direct, cultural and structural violence. At this colloquium, NMMU, as an engaged institution, brings various stakeholders together – civil society, students, academics and AVP practitioners – to raise awareness and to share knowledge, values and skills. Collective action is needed to combat violence and this event provides a platform to mobilise and engage”.

Included in the programme is a paper by Dr Vaughn John of the University of Kwa-ZuluNatal (UKZN) who is co-chair of the Peace Commission of the International Peace Research Association. His paper outlines the local-global nexus of AVP while that of UKZN PhD student Kudakwashe Shonhiwa reports on the effectiveness of AVP in reconciling divided communities in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Because the AVP non-violence training is a process of seeking and sharing which believes that the answers to violence lie within each individual, the workshops create a ‘seeker-friendly’ environment. This encourages participants to search within themselves for solutions and to develop their natural abilities to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence.

With its five central pillars of affirmation, communication, cooperation, community building and creative conflict resolution, AVP comprehensively introduces methods for reaching consensus and building relationships of reciprocity, resolving conflicts rather than reacting to them and learning communication skills that can de-escalate potentially violent and dangerous confrontations in any cultural environment.

More information is vailable from Shena Lamb-Du Plessis on 041-5043773.