What is your deepest fear?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Freedom, Fireworks and Beer

Freedom, fireworks and beer sound like a fatal combination, don't they? I agree totally.... these three indeed made a "deadly" combination for me last Friday but not in any life threatening way. Last Friday (5th May 2006), the Netherlands was celebrating "Bevrijdingsdag", translated as Liberation day. From the information I gathered, this is a celebration to mark the end of German occupation. There were festivals in the capitals of the 12 provinces of the country.

I just happened to be visiting a friend, Marieke, in Utrecht, which is one of the capitals, and got to see one of the "Bevrijdings festival". Since I went not expecting the celebration to be that big, I had quite a nice time. A number of artists performed and I was introduced to the second dutch artists (first was Anouk) that have really stuck in my mind, "Lange Frans en Baas B" who are the ambassadors of the freedom day (I am going out looking for their music very soon) .

After the stage performances there were fireworks for about 30 minutes and that is when I got the idea of writing this article. I was lost in space for a while just staring at the fireworks (it is sad that I forgot my camera this time) and then started to wonder why the obsession of people with fire? I took a few seconds to look at those around me and they were just as lost in the fireworks as I had been. Perhaps it is some kind of inbuilt instinct, that since the very old days, fire came very many opportunities and brought fundamental changes when it was discovered. It seems to be a catalyst to get people "hypnotised" and in a meditative mood.

As I was staring at the fireworks I was thinking to myself that people were really celebrating this Liberation day and I do not remember going out a single time in Uganda to celebrate the Liberation day (January 26th) or Independence day (October 9th).. does this mean that these things do not mean much to me (and other Ugandans)..? is it that no real fundamental changes came about from having these events occur (Independence and Liberation)..? Perhaps people are celebrating and I just do not know about it. I have no real answer to this.. only the questions.

Later, I was debating with Marieke and Koen about the meaning of independence and freedom and we seemed to agree on the point that independence was a subset of freedom. Freedom entails more than just being released from the control of another... it also means making the choice to be released from the control of ourselves. Each person defines freedom in their own way and this definition defines what they are willing to allow to control them. So the other question was "We have independence, but do we have freedom?"

However, this is a very heavy discussion and everybody probably has a different take on these issues... for our case, beer eventually got in the way and we exercised our freedom or independence to drink it. :)


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