I reject the argument that NRM brought peace to our communities
Posted Wednesday, February 20 2013 at 02:00
If we are to explain peace as merely the absence of war or violence, then we limit ourselves enormously. Peace of the mind is above all, the most important. When the mind is unsettled, the perception of peace is displaced.
Most of the accolades that poured during the ruling NRM’s 27th anniversary celebration spoke of the NRM as the inventors of peace in Uganda. The investment in peace is not an end in itself, but a means towards stability of any community and for the common good of society. Peace should not be merely itemised and priced. Neither should it be a sub-culture experienced by a few. Peace should be part of the dominant culture and should be evenly distributed in society.
To catalogue the occurrence of peaceful situation as a political achievement or agenda is ideologically self-defeating. Society naturally strives to exist in peace with itself, first and foremost. When we invest in means of coercion and continuously perpetuate violence instead of peace at various layers of society, we commit serious crime of contradiction.
Ironically, the NRM has become the custodian of our peace even when they profess violent ideologies. They continue to apportion and trade peace in manners that have transformed the experience of peace as a lifelong dream for others.
For a group of people to claim custodianship of peace, does this mean that generally they are more peaceful than others and are desirous of peace than the majority of Ugandans? Doesn’t it mean that they are more chaotic by nature and are therefore capable of disrupting peace? On the flip side, would it mean that the society is generally constituted of barbaric tribal elements and individuals who are naturally chaotic? Are members of this society in such a dire strait that they must be policed heavily with Mambas, armed soldiers and members of the police force armed to the teeth?
The prevailing dominant ideology in our society is inherently a chaotic one whose desire is to rule by force and use peace disproportionately as a token of appeasement. It uses and relies on theory of chaos to subjugate and itemise peace. It has undressed the population of its peace veils and itemised as a politically expedient pursuit. This confirms that those who are now tendering to our peace, are actually the perpetuators of commotion that we experience.
Our traditional societies are generally peaceful and had cultural institutions that mediated social disequilibrium. Peace was the penultimate objective of these communities and every community worked hard to secure peace with its neighbours. They did this through means of reciprocity such as marriages, rites of passage, seasonal festivities, trades, funerals, community development, harvesting, local courts and so forth. These institutions were incorruptible and served to mediate social harmony, unlike the current state institutions.
The real culture of violence in our midst results from the violent nature of the ruling elite. These people repress and suppress human liberties, violate human rights, perpetuate impunities and above all function by means of corruption to retain status quo.
It is, therefore, worthy rejecting the thesis that NRM brought peace to the communities. Peace is irreducible, but a condition that always finds equilibrium after it has been displaced. Peace is also embedded at every level of human discourse, depending on the experience of social space and social location; peace can mean many states of being.
If we are to explain peace as merely the absence of war or violence, then we limit ourselves enormously. Peace of the mind is above all, the most important. When the mind is unsettled, the perception of peace is displaced. In our common daily living, the lack of basic human needs provides the first sense of insecurity. When a man cannot feed himself or his dependants, then by any measure of things, such a man is not in peace with himself or his conditions. In our situation, this form of insecurity is the biggest and most proximal threat to our peace. To solve this proximal insecurity, we do not need mambas, machine guns, tear gas and jet fighters. The society needs to be invested in peaceful means through which production and products of labour can get equitably distributed.
To contextualise our experiences of peace we must invest in civil mannerism. Peace is a pre-requisite for economic and social transformation. But this peace should remain a cultural competency and expectancy accepted and practiced by all, not merely a political item.
The failure of this society is to assume that we can reinforce peace by coercive means. Conceptualisation of peace ensues through our spaces and in real time; people must be comfortable with this process and the outcome, to enable them build social and cultural capitals out of it, in the absence of a domineering systems of chaos.
Mr Komakech is a Ugandan social critic and political analyst based in Canada.