Throwing a Pie – More than a Simple Act of Protest

The art of creative and humorous nonviolent resistance methods, laughtivism if you will, has been a popular topic for readers all around the world. Pie, and then especially the throwing of the object, could be considered a prototype political provocation, and a powerful punchline when staying on the surface of the act itself. David against Goliath, an “act of punching up”, mostly against a higher status person, showing that, with our face covered in pie, we all look alike, and nobody would dare to claim a superior position with a face full of cream.   An unprecedented piece of journalism by Ben Paynter shows us the history of throwing pie as a form of nonviolent activism.  Although the record of political pie-throwing dates back to at least the mid-1600s, the recipe (of both the pie and the protest-method), have not changed much. Although maybe for one factor. Over time, “each hit became a surreal must-share moment for news agencies,” and pie-throwing “became an early political meme.” Communicating with their followers, but also more neutral audiences, “activists made sure to videotape or take pictures of each delivery, which with the growing reach of the internet were easily passed along to embolden others,” according to Paynter.   But why exactly is throwing pie funny? Paynter claims that it is good to emphasize this for a bit, given the fact that some people involved in the act “felt the pie throwing was theater of such poor quality that it required a violent response.” To explain the humorous nature of pie, we can use something called the Benign Violation Theory, and was developed by Peter McGraw, marketing and psychology professor at the Humor Research Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder. According to McGraw, “for something to be funny in the eyes of the audience, the situation needs...

Zimbabwe’s Unity of Purpose (in Protest-Signs)

Photo: Protesters demanding President Robert Mugabe stands down march towards State House in Harare. The fact that Mugabe has to go seems to represent most Zimbabweans. But what will happen after the 93-year old is put aside? Photograph: AP (via Independent.co.uk) This weekend, Zimbabweans all over the country took to the streets. On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters came out to demand an end to Mugabe’s rule, but seemingly also to simply celebrate that change was finally coming. And change is coming, that is for sure. An official source with direct knowledge of the ongoing negotiations told CNN that Zimbabwe’s long-time president has agreed to the terms of his resignation and a letter has been drafted. According to the source, the aim of Sunday’s televised speech, in which Mugabe amazed and infuriated the country by apparently resisting calls to step aside, was to ensure the veteran leader openly declared the military’s actions to be constitutional. Despite the disappointing speech, the end of the Mugabe era is only a matter of time.   Saturday’s protests were described to represent an unprecedented diversity within Zimbabwean society. From war-veterans to displaced white farmers, from ZANU-PF supporters to social-movement leaders, protesters seem to agree on this one point: Mugabe has to go! However, when Mugabe goes, several different scenarios could develop. In very simple terms, the spectrum goes from continued ZANU-PF autocracy under a different leader on the one side, to a transitional coalition authority leading the country into free and fair elections on the other (most positive) side. Considering this spectrum of possibilities, it should be doubted if every Zimbabwean who found him- or herself in the streets on Saturday would still be so united as to the future of Zimbabwe.     Unity of Purpose  If we look at the role nonviolent strategy could play in the...

Weekly Report: 17 November, 2017

Photo: Ruling Party tensions reached a peak this week in Zimbabwe, when the military forced Robert Mugabe off the stage after 37 years in power – Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo_Reuters   Zimbabwe Martha O’ Donavan, the American woman who’s arrest CANVAS reported on last week, has been granted bail last Friday. O’ Donavan’s, who is charged with subversion over allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe on Twitter, her bail was set on $1,000. According to the Washington Post, she did not speak to reporters as she emerged from a prison in the capital, Harare, and left in a U.S. Embassy vehicle. As are the conditions attached to her bail, O’Donovan had to hand over her passport to the Zimbabwean authorities, and has to report to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Monday and Friday. On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch releases a small report on the most recent clamp down on media in Zimbabwe, calling on the government to create an independent body to impartially investigate police abuses against journalists. Also late last week, AfricanArguments.org release an opinion-piece by Blessing Miles Tendi, on the role the British authorities might have played in the lay-off of former vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa. “With Mnangagwa’s dismissal,” Tendi argues, “the UK’s alleged strategy [to support Mnangagwa as Zimbabwe’s next president] has not only clearly failed, but its perceived backing for Mnangagwa prompted outrage among many Zimbabweans, further weakening the UK’s image in the country. Moreover, its support for Mnangagwa may have even contributed to his downfall.” Tendi moves on to argue that, besides the fact that UK-meddling in the presidential succession process is a known stick used by Mugabe, the UK should have recognized that associating itself with Mnangagwa would provoke heated domestic opposition because the controversial Mnangagwa has a long history of human rights abuses and violence. Early this week, Reuters covered a piece by MacDonald Dzirutwe, relating to...

Zimbabwe Coup November 2017 – Developments and Analysis

Seeing the recent developments in Zimbabwe, with an alleged coup on Tuesday/Wednesday as the peak so far, we are in dire need of some background and perspective. Below you will find a small analysis on the most recent developments in the country. Splits in the ruling party over succession As Robert Gabriel Mugabe does not have the eternal life, the battle for his succession has started within ruling party ZANU-PF. However, the current president has set out to rule Zimbabwe unchallenged for the rest of his life. His favored technique for guaranteeing his dominance is to build up potential successors only to destroy them, when coming to close to power. The succession struggle has not started only last week, but dates back to the 2014 purge of former vice-president Joice Mujuru and eight cabinet ministers. Mujuru was said to become a too powerful force within the party. She was then accused variously of corruption, theft and even plotting to kill Mr Mugabe, and therefore she and her followers had to go. Mujure was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa. Then, a bitter struggle between two factions within the ruling party began, which continued relatively silently until last week. On the one hand, there is the so called ‘G-40’-faction. This faction is supposed to represent the younger generation within ZANU-PF, and is allegedly led by Education Minister Jonathan Moyo and Zanu-PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere. The faction’s main point of existence seems to be to fight against Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa succession as party leader. As an alternative, G-40 seems to support Mugabe’s wife Grace, who is more and more profiling herself as the main...

Peace Science Digest focuses on Nonviolent Resistance

Peace Science Digest is a project by the War Prevention Initiative and on a bi-monthly basis, covers selected research and findings in the field of Peace Science (Peace and Conflict Studies), seeking to “enhance awareness of scholarship addressing the key issues of our time by making available an organized, condensed, and comprehensible summary of this important research as a resource for the practical application of the field’s current academic knowledge.” It is Peace Science Digest’s goal to create “a mutually beneficial link between the field’s academic community and its practitioners, the media, activists, public policy-makers” and others. The War Prevention Initiative envisions “a world beyond war by 2030 and humanity united by a global system of peace with justice”, while its mission “is to advance the Global Peace System by supporting, developing and collaborating with peacebuilding efforts in all sectors of society.” In its June 2017 Special Issue, Peace Science Digest focused on the topic of Nonviolent Resistance, covering publications on the following five topics: “Adding Humor to the Nonviolent ‘Toolbox’” “Diversity, Identity, and Privilege Among Multinational Activists in Palestinian Civil Resistance” “Creating a Broad-Based Movement for Black Lives” “Indigenous Civil Resistance and Treaty Rights” “Nonviolent Resistance and Government Repression“ In these articles, Peace Science Digest compiles and discusses the main findings of other authors’ publications, also addressing the respective topic’s contemporary relevance and practical implications. Moreover, the publication points towards further useful sources concerning the issues. And not only the Special Issue of Peace Science Digest comprises topics relevant for nonviolent struggle. If you are interested, take a look at other articles the Peace Science Digest has published,...