historian | journalist | peacebuilder

Hamilton Peace Festival

I spent time with a remarkable team led by Dr Rama Shankar Singh, a biology professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, who with his colleagues has for 12 years or more organized an annual Peace Festival and an annual Nonviolence lecture. Though spending most of their time in Canada, Dr Singh and his associates also foster initiatives for peace and human rights in Bihar, Orissa and Northeast India, often by visiting those areas.

The cultural riches of Canada and its connections to scores of ethnicities were very evident at the Hamilton Peace Festival, as was the spirit of young and old participants, including First Nation Canadians. Local groups working with Initiatives of Change and Hope in the Cities joined an excellent event in Hamilton where supporters of Gandhi-related projects were thanked by Dr Singh and the director of McMaster’s Centre for Peace Studies, Dr Bobby Ibhawoh (originally from Nigeria).

A personal pleasure for me was to link up again after a long gap with Dr S.V. Anand, formerly of Benares – Ananda as I know him – and to meet his wife, children and grandchildren. A surgeon who has also become a well-regarded artist, Dr Anand lives with his wife Saroj Ram (a doctor-cum-poet) in George Town, outside Toronto. Ananda’s parents were Tamil-speaking. Saroj’s Punjabi parents lived for many years in Uganda.

Ananda and I knew each other in childhood – his parents and mine were close. In 1956, he and I separately came into contact (in the UK) with Moral Re-Armament, now known as Initiatives of Change. A mentor for Ananda was Dr Will Davey of Australia. In the 1960s, Ananda worked for five years or more in Nigeria along with Dr Davey, offering to many Nigerians his skill as a surgeon and his friendship.