Who is disturbing the peace? Structurally, the scenario develops as follows: into established ways of living and doing things, “foreign” elements are introduced and the peace is disturbed. The elements are easily identified where the population goes onto the street, calls for reform and/or radical change and for heads to roll. Or they are difficult to identify where climate change is discussed and where methods of analysis are still being researched and developed while the situation persists. In disturbances of the peace, the pendulum swings between such scenarios, where in one you lock up the population and restore peace and in the other you introduce measures to reduce poisonous emissions and restore the peace of mind – for a while at least.
So, what then is “peace”? Is peace an illusion of the mind? A drug of kinds that the brain is hooked on? And what is “disturbance”? A lack of essential minerals, vitamins and trace elements? Strangely, it always seems to be played out to be or to become political. The peace and the disturbance of it, is foremost a civic thing. But what is behind? A disturbance of the mind? Of pride? Of appetite? Of psychic matter? Or of so-called “culture”?
Colleen is reading a book about the Zimbabwean situation by Peter Godwin: When a Crocodile eats the Sun (Picador Africa 2006), relating passages from it to me. The following scenario, we thought, gave a glance of the inner heart of Africa. An American first world aid worker, Loki Osborn, sees how in a village the women have to go for miles to fetch water from a well. He brings in a drilling team, they sink a bore hole and construct a well near the village. Now a “foreign” element is introduced in that the villagers have to establish a hierarchy for who may be first at the new well. After much squabbling the new well is demolished and peace in the village is restored. The scenario is used to illustrate the point that you cannot rush in to help without understanding the inner workings of a village where the walk to the well, the activity of drawing water, the wait and chat around the well are an integral part to the village’s lifeblood.
But there is another thought that for the moment holds my interest: colonialism has disturbed the peace in Africa. According to one adage, the bad thing about colonialism is that it came to Africa, but the worst thing is that it left. I leave that as it stands. Having disturbed the peace is colonialism’s true crime and for which leaders – as they are seen in Africa – like Mugabe have found the true answer. Westerners call those who disturb our peace hooligans. Africans call us colonialists for disturbing their peace. What then is peace? And what disturbance? What kind of peace? What kind of disturbance?