Sunday, July 9, 2006

Vendetta Anger

well, i've had a fairly full week, with a lot of interesting things going on, but also some difficult things. we've lost two more people from our group, one had to leave as his body simply hasn't been able to handle the malaria prophylaxis. he has only been sleeping for a couple of hours a night and has started getting sick, so he really didn't have many options. it was tough to see him go as he didn't want to at all, it was just that his health would no longer allow him to be here...too bad.

last week one of my friends named doug was cycling back to his homestay house and came across his homestay mother crying at a neighbor's house. apparently the husband had beaten her badly; doug cycled back to our training compound in mwekera to get help and the peace corps sent a vehicle and got the lady to a hospital. the husband was arrested, which is actually surprising as woman here, while not 2nd class citizens, are at the most 1 1/2 class citizens. domestic abuse is rarely reported and hardly ever prosecuted, and often times the wife is blamed, even by her own family, if she is beaten. i think it is pretty safe to say that the husband would not be sitting in jail right now if a westerner (doug) hadn't gotten involved. zambians are warm and friendly people, but, as with all societies, there is a dark side that is revealed occasionally.

we had a speaker several days ago who was talking about zambian culture and tribal practices. it was a very interesting talk, and at the end she spoke for about half an hour about zambian and similar society's anger. she described most western anger cycles as on a diagonal extending upwards and in a linear fashion, meaning it continues escalating until a definite resolution is reached. either there is an apology, violence and conquest, or something similar, just as long as there is a resolution. she said that the zambian anger cycle could best be described as a spiral that grows and grows, perhaps completely undetected until it explodes. an apology may not be enough to stop the cycle, as in zambia sometimes an apology is seen as an admission that a harm was indeed inflicted. there is a saying here, "there is no sorry after death," meaning the damage has already been done by the time an apology has been offered. the speaker went on to say that this same anger cycle can affect entire societies, and can build for even hundreds of years until it finally erupts--the term she used was "vendetta."

She said that vendetta is a primary reason for many ethnic and tribal conflicts, and gave as an example the current iraq war and the bosnian wars. the iraq war was declared ended more than a year ago, and by western standards it was. yet, according to the speaker, we're witnessing vendetta anger in iraq; similarly, milosevic's attempt at genocide in the balkans was vendetta anger that exploded. she mentioned in passing that she doesn't believe the vendetta anager has been addressed by either the serbs or albanians, which doesn't bode well for the future of the balkans.

she said that the only way to address vendetta after it has spiraled beyond control is through a mediator who will fairly address both sides' grievances. i didn't get a chance to ask her how you can mediate a dispute in which one side is completely implacable. how can the u.s. stop the vendetta anger of the terrorists when their grievance is our very existence and our most cherished beliefs, like equality, pluralism, freedom of religions and speech, etc.? i wish i'd had the chance to ask the question.

so anyways, sorry if i bored you with that but i thought it was very interesting and probably a profound insight. other highlights of the week included my sampling caterpillars, which were really, really gross. i also witnessed several chicken slaughterings, which were predictably gory. as part of our training we have also planted a vegetable garden, which is doing very poorly indeed. we had an embarassing session during which our tech leader went down and examined the garden, and was slightly less than enthusiastic in his assessment of our gardening skills. ah well, live and learn.

next weekend we are leaving for our site visits, i am going to be traveling to luapula province for 10 days with the other bemba speakers, so i'm not sure if i'll have email access. after i get back my shipping address is going to change as well, as i'll only have a couple of weeks left of training and then i will be posted at site where my mail will be delivered. i meant to bring the new address with me today but i of course forgot, i will try to get it out to everyone. thank you to all who have been writing, mail is undeniably the highlight of everyone's day when they receive some. i hope you all are well.

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