Ripples of Hope: How Ordinary People Resist Repression Without Violence
Robert M. Press
Politics & Social Sciences
Ripples of Hope: How Ordinary People Resist Repression Without Violence

In Ripples of Hope, Robert M. Press tells the stories of mothers, students, teachers, journalists, attorneys, and manyothers who courageously stood up for freedom and human rights against repressive rulers — and who helped bring about change through primarily nonviolent means. Global in application and focusing on Kenya, Liberia and Sierra Leone, this tribute to the strength of the human spirit also breaks new ground in social movement theories, showing how people on their own or in small groups can make a difference.

Case Studies and Organization of the Book
Part one: Sierra Leone
Part two: Liberia
Part three: Kenya
1 Resisting Repression without Violence
Individual Activism
Resistance in Abeyance: Organization without Organizations
From Abeyance to Formally Organized Resistance
Resistance without “Opportunity”
Broader, More Fluid Participation in Resistance
Establishing a Culture of Resistance
New Universal Model for Social Movements
Theoretical Implications
Structure and Resistance
Motives of Activists
Part one – Sierra Leone
2 Students Shake the Pillars of Power
Roots of Resistance
Rebirth of Resistance
Phase I: Student Resistance
The Power of Small Groups
Regime Repression Stimulates more Resistance
Resistance Impact
Civil Society Fails to Support Protesting Students
Phase II: Political Shape Shift: A “War” of Words
The Cost of Resisting Repression with Words
Refusing to Flee
Independent Journalist Escapes Arrest by Jumping out a Window; Press Dynamited
Phase III: Radical Activism: From Seeking Regime Reform to Regime Change
Training for Revolution
Implications of an Informal Resistance
3 Women Help Restore Democracy
A Modern David Uses Words, not Stones
Tracking Resistance via Energy and Ideas, not just Social Movement Organizations
Motives of Activists
Deepening a Culture of Resistance: Civil Society Re-emerges
Military Abuses
Birth of a Social Movement: Women Lead the Charge for Regime Change
Growing Civil Society Opposition to Military Rule
National Conferences: “The Military Realized Late We Were Serious”
Market Women v. the Military: The story of two Maries
Implications of a Successful Nonviolent Resistance to a Military Junta
4 Mass Noncooperation Helps Defeat a Violent Junta
Nonviolent Social Movement
Democracy on Hold
A Brutal Regime: “The Whole Nation Was Crying”
A Critique of Theories of Nonviolence
Violent Resistance
Civil Society’s Nonviolent Resistance: Junta “Not Wanted”
Individual Noncooperation
A Minor Theory: the Overlooked Role of Minor Actors in Helping Major Activists
Individual Resistance: Part of a Larger Social Movement
Resisting and Surviving: “We All Thought We Were Going To Die”
Organizational Nonviolent Resistance: Lessons from Gandhi and King
Teachers and Labor Strike
Journalists Wage Nonviolent “War” against the Military Junta
Drawn to activism by their profession
Underground Resistance by Journalists
A Journalist with a “Revolutionary Fervor” for Democracy
Radio Democracy: Psychological Warfare against the “Foot” of State
A “Ray of Hope”
Invisible Networks Supporting Social Movements in Repressive Settings
A Nonviolent Woman “Warrior”
Dangerous Marches
Marching on the Rebel Leader’s Home: “We Shall Overcome”
Final Orgy of Violence: “We Thought We Would All Be Dead”
International Interventions: A Nigerian Dictator Helps Restore Democracy
Implications of the Noncooperation with a Military Junta
Part two – Liberia
5 Nonviolent Resistance in Abeyance
A History of Authoritarianism and Resistance
Cultural Restraints on Resistance?
Emergence of Civic Resistance
Rice Riots (1979): Opening the Door for the 1980 Coup
Short-Lived Hopes for Human Rights and Democracy
Resistance in Abeyance: Courage, Commitment, Danger
Shooting Books
Professional Duty: Pathway to Resistance
American Ambivalence over Repression in Liberia
Civil War Stirs More Regime Repression – and Resistance
Implications of Peaceful Resistance in Abeyance
6 Peaceful Resistance during a Civil War
One Country, Two Presidents
Resisting a Tyrant, Peacefully
Moral Basis for Resistance
Human Rights Activism – “Delivering Body Blows to Taylor”
International Support for Advocacy
Ripples of Hope: Activists Inspire Others
Array of Tactics in the Resistance
Courage and Commitment: Intangible “Resources” in the Struggle for Human Rights
Women’s Peace Movements
“When Mother Calls”
Women Seize Peace Talks Hall
Implications of Nonviolent Resistance during a Civil War
Part three – Kenya
7 Individual Resistance against Repression
Professionalism: an Overlooked Entry Path to Activism
Resistance despite Repression, Few “Opportunities,” Limited Material Resources
Early Resistance
Hiding in a Charcoal Truck to Run for Parliament
Growing Resistance
Freedom Corner: Early Cracks in the Wall of Fear
Individual Activism (1): Urban Legal “Guerrillas”
Organization without Organizations
Unpredictability of Social Movements: Minor Actors; Chains of Events
Chess Game of Tactics
Individual Activism (2): Resistance by Writers, Clergy and Others
Weapons of Words
“God’s Kingdom Grows with Opposition”
Implications of Individual Activism
8 Establishing a Culture of Resistance
Mothers’ Strike
Small Group Strategic Choices and Tactics: “Exciting the Masses”
Breaking the “Wall of Fear:” Saba Saba Rally 1990
Widening the Resistance: Kamkunji Rally 1991
What Quantitative Studies Miss
Organizational Resistance
Ethnic Divisions
Cycles of Activism
New Tactic: National Citizen’s Convention
“Foot Soldiers” for Freedom
Growing Support for Mass Public Demonstrations
Counter Tactics by the Regime: the Chess Game Continues
Further Growth of a Culture of Resistance: A “Psychological Revolution”
International Resistance against Kenya
A “Rogue” US Ambassador Supports Kenyan Human Rights
From Regime Reform to Regime Change: Who gets the Credit?
Implications of a Culture of Resistance
Activism and Structural Conditions
Arguments Supported
About the Author
List of Figures
Figure 1 Sierra Leone secondary student at a human rights workshop in Bo, Sierra Leone, 2009
Figure 2 A street scene in central Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2008
Figure 3 Secondary school students and instructor at a human rights workshop in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, 2009
Figure 4 The author, political, police and military officials (from left to right) at a human rights workshop in Bo, Sierra Leone, 2009
Figure 5 Saxophone player in a public event in Monrovia, Liberia, 2006
Figure 6 Coffee house in the northern city of Ganta, Liberia, 2006
Figure 7 Kofi Woods, human rights activist, Monrovia, Liberia, 2006
Figure 8 Elizabeth Sele Mulbah, peace activist, Monrovia, Liberia, 2006
Figure 9 Young street salesman, Monrovia, Liberia, 2006
Figure 10 Village home, Liberia, 2006
Figure 11 Human rights activist Rumba Kinuthia, Nairobi, Kenya, 2002
Figure 12 Slum and downtown skyline, Nairobi, Kenya, 2006
Figure 13 Police attack mothers and supporters protesting for release of political prisoners, Nairobi, Kenya, 1992
Figure 14 Family in their street sales stall, Nairobi, Kenya, 1991
Figure 15 Hope for the future: sign board with image of Africa’s first elected female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Monrovia, Liberia, 2006
Figure 16 Looking to the future: young couple in Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2009
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