Peace? Which Peace and for Whom?

IN EFFORTS to consolidate the unity of the youth to face the corrupt elite, we often speak of the General Zombie Tendency (GZT) that characterises the post-independence political order.

The etymology (origin and development) of the word ‘zombie’ is to be found in African slaves in Haiti. This narrative holds that a zombie is a dead person (animated corpse) that returned to life due through magical powers. They are brought back to life by a ‘Bokor’ – a witch-like figure with tremendous powers and control over a zombie.

Indeed, zombies are Bokor’s personal slaves with no personal will. From the above etymology, it can be understood that zombies are generally creatures belonging to and operating and existing for the purposes of ‘Bokor’. These mindless parrots appearing to be alive but in fact are dead, have no personal views or perspectives. The GZT existing in our politics is similar to this Haiti narrative.

The GZT is characterised by Namibians conscripted to ‘see nothing, say nothing, do nothing, but act as told’. In our context, the people are zombies and the politician is the ‘Bokor’ to whom the mindless, viewless zombies belong as personal slaves. The GZT exists across all levels – from local to national and regional – and this cross-cutting I termed the ‘general’ zombie tendency.

The GZT hates critical thinkers and discourse. It embraces the status quo and stands opposed to new ideas and methods. The liberation hero – the politician – the ‘Bokor’ is the alpha and omega. When sharp thinkers speak the truth and expose lies of the ‘Bokor’, the zombies are firstly unleashed to condemn the sharp thinker as ‘anti-government’.

If the zombie fails, then the master, the ‘Bokor’ arrives, just like in the movies, with a punchline the thinker is “paid, sent and is used by imperialists”.

It was, therefore, no surprise that Affirmative Repositioning, a radical youth movement to address the land question, was baptised as being against the ruling party and the triumphalist incoming President.

The audacity of absurdity is amazing. As a public critical thinker providing answers to questions perplexing society, I remain unmoved by the GZT. For the truth is like cream in a glass of milk, no matter how much milk you pour in, the cream will remain at the top.

We are told of a fictional paradise called “Vision 2030” when we want answers. If it is not 2030 delay tactics, then we are told of ‘peace.’ “We brought peace… do not take peace for granted,” ‘Bokors’ often shout to a loud cheering of zombies.

Thanks to the GZT, the peace rhetoric is never critically analysed. It would not be surprising that after reading this piece the ‘Bokors’ will tell the zombies in dark corners “Shipululo Etondo lyaNehale wants to bring war.”

Due to our history, the face value interpretation of peace is one its absence means physical pain while its presence means the absence of physical pain. As such, ‘Bokors’ thus invoke the word ‘peace’ for blackmail and to obtain obedience. When the word ‘peace’ is mentioned, corruption, poverty and general despondency automatically disappear in the minds of the zombies.

What is peace to a hungry and homeless person – to a person shitting in a bucket kept under his bed for 365 days? What is peace to a person selling her body for food? No one wants to ask and answer!

If liberated from the fear of the ‘Bokor’, the poor may speak the truth that, for their circumstances, peace is nothing but bullsh*t. It was not surprising to hear an Eveline Street youth dreaming of chaos to obtain a clear looting opportunity. To an elite connected to a ‘Bokor’, with thriving business, those with parents in power, those who regard slow internet as poverty and those flying to Cape Town for lunch, ‘peace’ as spoken by the ‘Bokor’ is real and important.

‘Peace’ is the bodyguard of their comfort and luxury. They cannot imagine a chaotic situation wherein privileges are disturbed. They love their peace, don’t they? A nation of sharp contradictions peace and its value differ depending on your proximity to the national purse and salad.

What is peace anyway? Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung handsomely distinguishes two types of peace Negative Peace and Positive Peace. Negative peace refers to the absence of violence. In the case of war, for example, a ceasefire marks Negative Peace. It is negative because something undesirable stopped happening (the halting of violence or oppression).

Positive Peace is concerned with content such as restoration of relationships, the creation of social systems that serve the needs of the whole population and the constructive resolution of conflict. Galtung draws a distinction between structural violence and direct violence.

The classical form of direct violence involves the use of physical force such as killing or torture, beatings, etc. Structural violence is a form of violence where social structure or social institutions harm people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. This can happen in the form of institutionalised elitism, classism, racism and ageism.

The clear conclusion is that we do not have absolute peace in this country. Listen to Galtung “peace does not mean the total absence of any conflict. It means the absence of violence in all forms.” What we have is Negative Peace (benefiting elites) we lack Positive Peace. While we have no direct violence, we surely have serious structural violence. Galtung helps us in asking the ‘Bokors’ to tell us which peace and for who?

Job Shipululo Amupanda is the author of the book Truth is Truth: Selected Works of an Activist

Source : The Namibian