Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Struggle Within, The Struggle Without: #OccupyParliament [Part II]

"Assembly, demonstration, picketing and petition.
37. Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities."
 Continued from part I

All well and swell, were it not for the fact that some overzealous protestor(s) went round, intimidating fellow protestors by threatening to ‘beat them down’ with their placards if they did not sit down. 

I walked across the road at this juncture; about 10 meters from where the protestors sat. The interpretation of peaceably and unarmed  seemed to be persistently tested by loose nuts in the crowd repeatedly. Not once, by the organizers, however.

By now, the show-of-force shock-and-awe campaign by the police forces was becoming more and more effective in its choreography; horsemen galloping past protestors and back again, trucks full of GSU - as well as Riot - policemen, cruising back and forth.
  • I had been consistently expressing my reservations to Aficionado, and as I watched the Swine Truck back up towards Parliament, we mused at what was going on. As soon as I realized there were pigs in the truck, correlating the pigs to the chants on slaughter, I expressed my hope that it was not going to be slaughtered pigs on display.
One of the men next to me, apparently fed up with my bickering, turned on me with a barrage of bullets disguised as words. Questioning my ‘allegiance’ and basically giving me the ‘if you’re not for us you’re against us’ speech. 

Two things: 

I will never sit and watch in silence as something I believe is wrong goes down.

And, at the end of the day, symmetry is overrated. 

I was not there to join protestors, but there to protest. For Kenya, not for Occupy Parliament, so to speak. That is to say that some of the protestors could be wrong, and I wouldn't have had to join them in being wrong. 

But Kenya, whether wrong or right, I had to defend. 
This is the story of a girl, who cried a river and drowned the whole world. And while she looks so sad in photographs, I absolutely love her, when she smiles
-          Nine Days

  • When the pigs were finally let out, the first thing I saw was the pighead held high, bloody where the neck had been cut. I have since come to learn that the pighead was not part of the protest. Not by the protest organization’s doing anyway. A madman in this market had thought it striking imagery to bring the head with him. 
And it was, striking imagery. 

An image that struck back.

Because, I maintain, this is what triggered the forceful dispersion of the otherwise largely peaceful protest. This head, added to the blood that was bought by organizers at a slaughterhouse in Dagoretti and poured on the pigs – which then went ahead to have their feel and fill of the macabre display of body fluid – only served to further aggravate the image.

That, right there, was strike 3.

Leave and Bicker

At which point, frustrated at yet another chance to shift perceptions, I left. The fact that this was a successful protest is not in contention here. That it was. Hugely successful, in getting the will of Kenyans across. More successful, in getting across the foot-down-on-them response by this government. 

But the few sour elements, elements that Bonnie and crew could not in truth be expected to control, sallied the display.

I got away, fast and furious, and by the time I got to the Hilton Hotel, the Fire Brigade was headed up Moi Avenue, in a series of beelines and turns, for the protestors.

Hear Jeer, and Sneer

On to Social Media for the due post-mortem then. There were those who sat back, heard others complain about the blood and ‘slaughter,’ and in turn sneered their responses at those who jeered. 

The most common criticism was that we who protested the sideshows in the protest had missed the big picture.

That those who had a problem with how things were done should get off their arses and do something that can be judged, not simply bitch about everything. True.

As you tell 'complainers' what to do, from within the confines of your Internet Security.

That the politicians’ pay rises were what we should have focused on. True.

Yet a sideshow was in fact created, in the way of the pighead. The pigs and blood alone would have been no major issue to me, turned off as I am by blood. The head, though, was overkill. And not the organizers’ fault.

But until Boniface Mwangi explained that yesterday morning, we whose sensibilities were so offended, had no way of knowing that it wasn't.
Like the legend of the phoenix, all ends with beginnings … We’ve, come too far, to give up, who we are. So let’s, raise the bar, and our cups, to the stars…
-          Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers

Hear Jeer, Cheer at Jeer

Then came the pig jokes on Twitter. Which soon accepted and moved on to Facebook and Parliament. Some were admittedly hilarious, but once again, the big picture was missed by Kenyans eager for a Retweet based on the lowest form of wit; ridicule.

Hear Cheer, Jeer at Cheer

Soon enough the people who cheered on the protestors' bravery, in the face of being mauled by the hounds that are our Kenyan anti-riot forces, were subjected to sniggers; one particular tweet referred to protestors as being on the street for their own amusement

It’s hard not to lose your cannons when such bullshit flies across your timelines.

They forgot that as they cracked their jokes, deriding the protestors, we – those who were beaten and those who were missed alike – had managed to do something the idle armchair philosophers had not.

We were heard. We could not be ignored.
I had a dream, it was golden. There was a king, he sent soldiers. They had orders to tear us apart. So we ran and ran, and they chased and chased. We were huge, we were tall. They were weak, they were small. And at last we were free, we could save. Sound the horn, call the cavalry. Together we’re invincible.
-          Lemar

In ConclusionI understand now, what Bonnie and crew, what we, did on Tuesday. They know, they must, that the pigs and blood will be a whip to sensibilities and sensitivities, and a harsher whip to those sprung off their hips. 

Yet, I can only imagine, they have a pragmatic approach to their protest and activism. Bonnie got ribbed by government security once again yesterday, center of focus that he is; but he understands that the good of the many overrides the good of the one.
Until you have done something for humanity, you should be ashamed to die.
-          Horace Mann

We need to end the heartbreak warfare. Lose the grey areas and pick a side. Either you are with the protest or against it. If you are for, then be for; express your opinions either way, but at the end of the day, remember the issues.

Are you still talking about the protest? Some, a good number, are. International and Local Media included. Discourse has been resurrected, a new kind of discourse. A passionate form of discourse, whether for or against, the revolutionary road. That, is victory. 
  • On a sidenote, those who were arrested have been charged with animal rights abuse. Do we have animal rights' legislation in Kenya? Like my friend Michael asks here, was the case in which a porn director at the Coast was charged for engaging women in bestiality last week, also charged on animal rights' abuse?
  • The police have said that they were forced to act with violence because the rights of Muslims were impinged upon by the use of pigs to symbolize MPs in the struggle. First off, I’m sure it would have made no difference if the pigs were actually vultures shot down and weighed down with stones, so as to not fly off.
And, are we really going to sit here and pretend, in this country, that we give that much of a damn about Muslim sensibilities, in justification of hosing down and tearing up peaceful protestors?

Excerpt from a post on Seven Sentences.
  • We each only have 24 hours in a day, but greatness breaks time down, examining each action frame by frame, bringing forth much clarity. 
  • The ability to see clearly, prioritize and make great decisions in a heated moment, marks greatness. 
  • How can you learn to slow down time? 
  • You must learn to relax and become the master of your emotions.

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