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A reflection on government-sponsored pursuit of ‘culture of peace’

By Justino Red

It is confusing why we people in urban centers celebrate the “pursuit of peace and peace through culture” through tribal dancing and singing because the way it should be understand, indigenous people sing and dance, like all people in the world, whether “civilized” or otherwise, because of heavenly blessings bestow on them.

They do not celebrate when they are branded either as rebel or military assets by both armies of troubled sides and are caught in a cruel crossfire. They do not sing and dance in unison like dance troupes when their ancestral lands and mountains are bombed, grabbed and mined and they evacuate out of fear and hunger and no security of their rightful ancestral domains.

Some of them, particularly their leaders; principled men and women are manipulated, taken away and gone and all the horrible and unjust uncivilized things done to them.

Why should we celebrate their fate, past and present and expect them to join us? How imperialist do we get.

In a recent “special launching-celebration” in honor of our tribal roots, sophisticated performances held at the urbanites “temple-mall” and no authentic tribal societies attending, a viewer remarked: “All this dancing and singing in the middle of evacuation, accusations, bombing, fear and hunger, do these performers know what’s going on up there?”

They didn’t. The performers were middle-class Christian city-based students, not real tribal people, hauled by partner government agencies known for its lip services and “more fun” amid endless trouble times.

In the end it is sad and unfortunate that the event seemed like an “icing of the cake” or worse, a cover-up because it mistakenly picture the indigenous people’s situation as heavenly. Or didn’t the organizers know what’s the real score? Or just not sensitive to the plight of the people there?

Would it not be offending and insulting to the suffering of the tribal victims who for a long time now pleaded to the authorities and rebels to stomp their wars.

And why should we, with good and confusing intention, be cheering and applauding when they are crying for help? But blindly we flock to see their artistic expressions done by artists in the making.

For sure the agencies meant well to promote the “culturalization” of urban people utilizing tribal societies as a “guide.” But the danger is that the act borders on exploitation itself.

While it highlights and recognizes art and artists as natural wealth which should be the case, a thorough and  overall study should have been done on the regional level at least and not at the expense of marginalized sector.

We need no flash-in-the-pan pursuits but a meaningful, consistent program to help our people from all walks of life inform the situation they need to know and move to demand action for all. We need creative presentations that reflect our true selves to push us to be transformed as better citizens.

The “culture of peace” is a bright idea but questionable of its sincerity, vision and wisdom.

Artwork courtesy of Gemma O’brien

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