Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Disturbing Tranquility

I practiced the coup drill for we already had our lost decades
Marked by tanks in the streets and the military men's arrival
When so many failed to stand up and be counted
And displayed an altogether impressive passivity
I dissent from that brand of disturbing tranquility
That culture of silence, that philosophy of survival
I'm not inclined to continue as the Ghanaian Sphinx

God knows, I'd rather be proved wrong at this stage
Even after living as an exiled soul, on the losing side
I'm part of a loud minority — tribes, vibes and scribes
My chosen soundtrack is that of the urban griots
Firm believers in the necessity of permanent outrage
Unleashing wistful zingers, satire deployed as a weapon
Irony as the key register even in impassioned conversation
Let it not be said that defiant stares are our only aggression
Voices inside, soul singing, we march on the road to freedom

Now they want us to turn back the clock
And return to the autumn of the patriarchs
When conquerors partied until the break of dawn
While the rest of us dealt with curfews, chits and laissez-passers
Subject to daily confrontations at arbitrary roadblocks
The fear of being caught out on the streets after dark
And to think that the foreign press counsels us to "accept reality"
I daresay it's an affront, intolerable this rogue civility
I'm therefore proud to be accused of disturbing tranquility

The coup leaders in Myanmar have released the names of seven opposition activists they want arrested. They were accused of disturbing tranquility, a rarely used charge.

BBC, February 13, 2021
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Disturbing Tranquility, a playlist


A soundtrack for this note. I nominate this pièce de résistance for the Things Fall Apart series under the banner of Social Living. Trapped in my pandemic cage, thousands of miles away from the kind of danger so many are facing in Myanmar, I could only contribute these words and a defiant stare.

An Afterthought a few months later


Obliquely, the above was born of a thought experiment. What if the men in khaki stepped back into the frame in today's Ghana? And the counterfactual: what should/could have been the response when they did step back into the frame almost 40 years ago? If more had been prone to disturbing tranquility rather than the masks of civility that we wore, would we be debating cultures of silence today? Ain't that peculiar? as Marvin would sing.

Anyway, some would say better Myanmar than Ghana (God forbid). But injustice anywhere is an outrage, and we should all stand in solidarity. The heart aches at the damage past and ongoing, and the things that we've lost.

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Writing log: February 13, 2021

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Intriguing peak into an ordered yet convoluted mindset. Like it.