When we...

Once again, the world’s powers have seriously misjudged their ability to exert themselves over a “rogue” nation.

In a few years time if this war continues, just as Iraqis and Somalis and the citizens of other countries that have been embroiled in war for years or even decades, the Libyan collective memory of normality will begin to fade or be distorted. Gaddafi will once again become a hero, they will speak of the days when “it was safe to walk at night” and water flowed from the taps and there was peace. The details of that peace will become obscured and the reasons for going to war will be questioned.

A country doesn’t need a war to rewrite its collective memory. In Zambia, people are unashamed to express nostalgia for the days of KK (Kenneth Kaunda – dictator) and his successor FTJ (Frederick Chiluba – attempted to change the constitution in order to become a dictator).

Memory is a transient ethereal substance. When it is changed or changes how can we know? When in twenty years time we dispute the actions of Gaddafi, Kaunda or Chiluba where do we seek the truth? In Zambia, every newspaper tells a different story and now we choose to believe neither. We have are the opinions of thought leaders among whom impartiality is a scarce commodity in a country where “either you are for me or against me.”  When our history textbooks are written by the state, who do we trust to tell the truth, to record events as they really happened? 

Picture: The Persistence of Memory; Salvador Dali 

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