Thakore award recipients view conflict through Gandhi’s eyes

September 24, 2010

Media release from SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations

Heribert Adam, 604.228.8369, 250.629.6229;
Jerry Zaslove, SFU Humanities, 604.928.9846 (cell),
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035;

September 24, 2010

Two long time academic commentators and political activists who could have been imprisoned for knowing each other in apartheid-ruled South Africa are the 2010 recipients of the 20th annual Thakore Visiting Scholar Award.

Heribert Adam, professor emeritus of sociology at Simon Fraser University, and Kogila Moodley, professor emeritus of education at the University of British Columbia, met and fell in love in South Africa in the 1960s.

It was a time when there were separate universities for different ethnic groups. Moodley, an Indian, met Adam, a German, when he — a traveling university professor — came to visit the Indian university where Moodley was teaching.

Relations between people of different ethnic groups were forbidden under South Africa’s apartheid system. But Adam and Moodley rose above racial segregation to bond personally and academically. During the last 35 years, they have gained international recognition for their research, books and lectures on peacemaking, human rights and non-violent change in divided societies, especially South Africa.

Their efforts to deepen world understanding of how India’s Mahatma Gandhi and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela used non-violent strategies to dislodge external and internal colonialism have earned them their latest honour.

Simon Fraser University’s Institute for the Humanities and its JS Woodsworth Chair, the India Club of Vancouver and the Thakore Charitable Foundation bestow the Thakore Award on people who emulate qualities valued by Gandhi.

Like Gandhi, Mandela was a political leader committed to realizing truth, justice and political freedom through non-violent measures, such as peaceful civil disobedience.

The Thakore award also acknowledges Adam’s and Moodley’s timeless exploration of the cultural and political roots of violence and peacemaking in a violence-prone world where post-conflict reconstruction is fraught with its own challenges.

In their book, Seeking Mandela: Peacemaking between Israel and Palestine, the two argue the rise of a Mandela- or Gandhi-type global icon of non-violent change wouldn’t necessarily bring peace to the Middle East.

Referring to their latest book, Adam and Moodley will deliver a two-part lecture — Reconciliation in Deeply Divided Societies — to explain why, after accepting their Thakore award in a free public ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 3.

The success of Gandhi’s and Mandela’s style of peaceful civil disobedience “relies on the opposing power being susceptible to moral appeals and sharing a similar moral universe,” say Adam and Moodley. “Where a shared value system is absent or the colonized become dehumanized… or are perceived as acting on behalf of a foreign power (KGB agents, Islamist zealots) posing an existential threat to the power-holder, moral persuasion tends to fall on deaf ears.”

Adam and Moodley will deliver their lecture at 7:45 p.m. at SFU Vancouver’s Harbour Centre campus, in the Fletcher Challenge Theatre, following an award ceremony at 7:30 p.m. They will host a question answer session at 8:30 p.m.

This event is free and open to everyone, but space is limited. To reserve a seat please visit:

On Oct. 2, the actual birth anniversary of Gandhi, the public is invited to attend a free garlanding ceremony at the bust of Gandhi from 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. Due to construction, the bust has been temporarily re-located to the biology courtyard west of the nearby Peace Square, on the south-side of the Academic Quadrangle.

Thakore award recipients view conflict through Gandhi’s eyes

SFU professor emeritus Heribert Adam won the Adenauer Prize from the Humboldt Foundation in 1998 for his involvement in creating a truth and reconciliation commission in post-apartheid South Africa. The commission, which became a model for 30 others around the world, held hearings on how countries, such as South Africa, should deal with past human rights crimes. Adam is also a 2008 recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Canadian Sociology Association and SFU’s Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in support of controversy.

UBC professor emeritus Kogila Moodley researches critical multiculturalism and anti-racism education. Raised in the Indian community of apartheid South Africa, Moodley was the first holder of the David Lam Chair in Multicultural Education at UBC. She has served as president of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Ethnic, Minority and Race Relations. The Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies has awarded her a 2010 fellowship for her research on South African xenophobia.