News and Reviews
One would expect members of the peaceful societies to spread out, establishing family groups and communities in new locations, moving and settling elsewhere just as many other people do. Tristan Islanders resettle in Cape Town, some Inuit have moved south to major Canadian cities, and a group of Hutterites established a colony in Japan.
Hutterites in Japan? An article on the subject last week in the Japan Times, a daily English-language newspaper from Tokyo, was intriguing. It seems as if a group of four Japanese Christians, who evidently had adopted the Hutterite faith and culture, moved to Tochigi Prefecture and settled there in 1972 near the town of Otawara, about 165 km (102 miles) north of Tokyo. It is near the main Tohoku railroad north toward Fukushima.
The original settlers were greeted by a fair amount of hostility from the traditional Buddhist and Shinto people of the community, so they were only able to acquire a small amount of land at a time, located well outside of town.
The matriarch of the colony, Mariko Kikuta, told the visiting reporter that the residents of Otawara didn’t want them to settle nearby, “and nobody would sell us the land we needed, so we ended up way out here.” She added, “at first there was no water or electricity here, and we had some people come and throw stones at us, so we really had a hard time.” They were able to slowly buy up additional land so they now own 2.5 hectares (6 acres).
The colony attracted more members as it grew in area, and it reached a population of 40. Almost entirely self-sufficient, they built their homes, grew their own food, and constructed other essential buildings: a church, a community dining and social hall, and massive coops for the colony’s growing flocks of prize chickens.
The colony raised funds through the sale of chickens and eggs—the supermarket chain Seijo Ishii started selling their products. In addition to the eggs and chickens, the colony grew plums, kiwis, and raspberries, which they processed into jams. In the winter, they switched to other fruit crops such as grapes, cherries, and persimmons, and grew Chinese cabbages and broccoli.
The people ate communally in the dining hall, and attended church services four times per week. The hand-hewn pews in the church face a large plate glass window that looks out onto a hillside. The colony was led by Fumio Kikuta, who was aided by other senior male residents. It received visitors—Hutterites and Mennonites—from abroad.
But things began to decline in the mid-1980s. Young people lost interest in remaining in Otawara. The four sons of the Kikutas, all raised in the colony, now live in Tokyo and work at prominent Japanese firms. None have any interest in returning to Otawara.
To add to their problems, Mr. Kikuta had a stroke in 2007, and while he lives at the colony, he lacks the vigor of his youth. Then, the great Japanese earthquake of 2011 struck. It moved the colony’s bread-making machine off its foundation. It is no longer operational.
Because of the fears of radiation exposure, Seijo Ishii cancelled its contract with the colony for its prize eggs, depriving the Hutterites of its remaining source of outside funds. Since Mr. Kikuta is mostly confined to his home, the other four residents, aging women, have to handle everything.
Two of the women treat the reporter, Mark Buckton, to herbal tea plus a simple meal of toast and salad before he leaves. He asks if publicity might help turn things around for the five remaining Hutterites. Mrs. Kikuta replies, “People must come of their own accord to Hutterite colonies.”
Over a week ago, conflicts between rival Arab and Nubian clans in Aswan, in southern Egypt, escalated into street violence that claimed 26 dead and over 50 injured. Accounts in the Egyptian and international media differ as to who or what caused the violence.
The story, as told by the Egyptian government on Saturday the 5th, was that the conflict between the Bani Helal Arab clan and a Nubian family known as the Daboudiya began the previous Wednesday, the 2nd, at a school in Aswan. Supposedly, a female student was harassed, prompting offensive graffiti to be painted on the walls of the school, which led to violence that spread into the streets. Officials also said that the Arabs were involved in a drug smuggling ring that angered the Nubians in the community. Different accounts reveal the tensions in the city, especially among the minority Nubians.
One Nubian, who asked to not be named, said that he locked his family and himself into his house after two of his relatives were killed. He said that the people were terrified, particularly since they had called for help but the police had blown them off, telling the callers, “you work it out.”
Adel Abu Bakr, another Nubian, said that the problem began when members of the Bani Helal clan beat a Nubian, then shot and killed three other Nubians. Another Nubian was then killed. After their funerals, the Nubians invaded the Arab neighborhood, killing over a dozen people with sticks and daggers. He added that if the police had been present, everything would have been different. A military government spokesman blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for fostering the violence, though most of the news media discounted that statement since the military rulers of Egypt now appear to blame almost all of their nation’s troubles on the government of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Over the weekend, the violence spread, as the Bani Helal Arabs retaliated against the Daboudiya Nubians, with mobs torching homes and people dying in pitched gun battles. Local residents repeatedly denied government accounts that the Muslim Brotherhood was involved. One Nubian man, Abdallah Ghareeb Madany, said that the Arabs had put some anti-Nubian graffiti on a wall after some Nubian students had walked through their neighborhood on the way to school. “They wrote some provocative phrases on the walls, saying that they are the masters of the place,” he said.
On Monday last week, the media reported the welcome news that a three-day truce had been negotiated between the Arab and the Nubian clans. Both groups formed committees to see that the terms of the truce would be enforced within their communities. The fighting that had claimed the lives of 25 and injured 56 others seemed to be abating, at least temporarily. On Tuesday, another report indicated that a 26th person had died from burns received during the fighting. Wednesday, the two sides agreed to extend the truce for at least another month.
On Thursday the 10th, the Egyptian news source Al-Ahram Weekly carried an in-depth analysis of what had happened. Local residents in Aswan maintain that the fighting began due to a confrontation with a drug dealer from Bani Helal. Amr Al-Seman, an Aswan resident, told Al-Ahram that the dealer “was selling drugs in Al-Shabiya, a Nubian district, on Wednesday when nearby school students—mainly from the Daboudiya tribe—ejected him from the area following a scuffle.”
Al-Seman added that the drug dealer came back the next day. On Friday, the 4th, the dealer came again, that time along with other members of his clan. They started shooting, killing four Daboudiya, including one woman, and injuring 10 others. When members of the Daboudiya clan went to the police, the officers did nothing. The Nubians then took matters into their own hands.
Fatma Emam, a Nubian researcher, also said the spread of violence was due to the absence of security forces. She blamed the chief of the security for Aswan for not doing anything to effectively stem the spreading violence over the weekend. “We have repeatedly complained of the way the state deals with Nubian issues in exclusively national security terms. Successive governors have been indifferent to any development of the area and development projects are repeatedly brushed beneath the carpet,” she wrote on Twitter.
Hossam Sweilam, a security expert quoted in the Al-Ahram account, agreed. “What began as a minor dispute escalated because of inaction on the part of the governor and the Interior Ministry,” Sweilam said. “The governor should have intervened immediately to broker reconciliation ….” The leader of a Nubian pressure group called Qatallah, Osama Farouk, also blamed the police, the army, and the government for failing to intervene in the spreading violence.
Al-Ahram quoted a post on Facebook by Haggag Oddoul, the prominent Egyptian writer and member of the recent constitution-writing committee. In the magazine’s translation of Mr. Oddoul’s words, he blamed the trouble on the 1964 uprooting of the Nubians from their homes in Old Nubia. They were moved to resettlement areas which are surrounded by hostile, armed, Arab neighbors.
“Nubians have had more than their share of insults and abuse. Armed groups used to attack and steal the houses of Nubians. None of the perpetrators were punished. Now Nubians know they must carry guns and threaten to use them in order to defend themselves,” Oddoul wrote.
News and reviews of publications relating to peaceful societies—and sometimes to related topics—are normally posted here on Thursday mornings (U.S. time) and are kept on this page for one week. Older news and reviews for 2014 are listed below, and ones from previous years are listed on the News and Reviews 2004-2005 page, the 2006 page, the 2007 page, the 2008 page, the 2009 page, the 2010 page, the 2011 page, the 2012 page and the 2013 page. All stories are also included in the News and Reviews Subject Listing. Recent ones are listed at the bottom of each society entry in the Encyclopedia of Selected Peaceful Societies, after the heading: Updates: News and Reviews. News and reviews about peacefulness in general are referred to from the bottom of the Facts page, while news stories about this website are linked from the About This Website page. News and Reviews can also be found with the Google search bar.
April 10, 2014. Paliyans Exploited in Tamil Nadu
April 10, 2014. Storytelling Preserves Traditions of the Lepchas
March 27, 2014. Presentation on Tristan Coming to Toronto Area Library
March 27, 2014. Philippine Conference Promotes Indigenous Languages
March 20, 2014. Proposed Port Threatens Yanadi Villages
March 20, 2014. A Jewish Scholar Visits an Amish Family
March 13, 2014. Seminar Presentation on Rural Thai Culture
March 13, 2014. Ladakh Political Status Challenged
March 6, 2014. Inuit Languages Celebrated
March 6, 2014. Rules for Maintaining a Peaceful Society [journal article review]
February 27, 2014. Zapotec Linguistics Analysis
February 27, 2014. Schooling for the Lepchas
February 20, 2014. Endangered Species and the San
February 20, 2014. Drive-by Horse Shooting
February 13, 2014. Nubians Recognized in Egyptian Constitution
February 13, 2014. Inuit Sex Trafficking
February 6, 2014. The Semai of Pos Betau
February 6, 2014. New Dictionary for Ju/’hoansi Children
January 30, 2014. Preserving Lepcha Culture
January 30, 2014. Rural Thai Culture of Rice Farming
January 23, 2014. Hutterite Colony School Burns Down
January 23, 2014. Batek Suffering from Logging
January 16, 2014. The Tamaraw and the Buid
January 16, 2014. G/wi are Being “Treated Like Dogs”
January 9, 2014. Central California Zapotec Festival
January 9, 2014. Birhor Poverty Finds Relief in a Picnic
January 2, 2014. A Semai Christmas
January 2, 2014. Nubian Recognition in New Egyptian Constitution