I Will Not
Today on Earth Day
we are celebrating by making promises
But I will not
I will not stop throwing paper on the ground.
I will not stop using plastic bags
I will not go to clean the beaches
I will not stop polluting
I will not do all these things because I am not polluting
It is the grown-ups who are dropping bombs
It is the grown-ups who have to stop
One bomb destroys more than all the paper & plastic
that I can throw in all my life
It is the grown-ups who should get together and talk
to each other
They should solve problems and stop fighting and stop
They are making acid rain and a hole in the ozone layer
I will not listen to the grown-ups!
[Student of class five of Karachi High School on Earth
was in the wee hours of the morning. Propped up in our
beanbags Nuzhat and I chatted while Zaheer and Ragni
clicked away on their keyboards. I was in Karachi doing
a story on Abdul Sattar Edhi, a man I admired greatly.
Nuzhat and I had a lot of catching up to do, and our
stories wandered in unplanned directions. We talked
of when she and Nafisa Hoodbhoy had started the Peace
Committee in Karachi and as she remembered this story
her bright eyes welled up. Nuzhat was not the sort of
person one could imagine being angry. But as she recalled
the words of this little boy, she shook with emotion.
It was a week after they had heard the news of the US
dropping a bomb every two minutes on Iraq. They had
talked in school of how the world was being destroyed,
of how the minds of people were being moulded, of how
Pakistanis were looked upon at airports, but how the
work of Edhi went unreported. She recalled how at the
end of her talk, the chief guest, a woman known for
her good work, went up to the boy and quietly told him
off. How the prizes went to the other kids who had made
presentations that no one could remember.
can we say to the blind & deaf?
What does education & learning mean?
What should we teach & why do we teach it?
were questions Nuzhat asked that night. Questions we
continue to ask.
As we put together the work for this festival, I have
been struck by the range of interpretations of the word
‘resistance’. A word that fighters against
occupation have taken as their own, gets usurped by
occupying forces. To resist, to challenge, to question,
to go against the grain, to deliberately choose the
untrodden path is a conscious decision. It is a risky
route fraught with danger, but a route we must follow,
if change is to come.
The festival itself continues to buck the trend. Open
air marquees without gates or walls bring rarely seen
work to a wider public. Billboards on cycle rickshaws
take exhibitions to city spaces that have never known
gallery walls. Combining innovative low cost solutions
with state of the art technology, video conferences
link the virtual with the real, while canvas prints
on giant scaffolding scorn the air conditioned confines
of exclusive openings. Hand tinted prints rub shoulders
with pica droplets on digital media. Fine art, conceptual
work, installations, traditional photojournalism, coexist
in a strange mix, oblivious to attempts to categorise
and label. The future, the present and the past huddle,
sometimes uncomfortably, to produce a kaleidoscope of
images and woven messages, that question, reflect and
celebrate aspects of our existence.
When globalisation has become a euphemism for westernisation,
it is this dissolution of borders, this resistance to
consumerism, this dream of a world where the might of
a few, can be effectively challenged, this belief that
tanks and stealth aircraft, and media spin will not
subdue an indomitable spirit, that characterises this
festival. It is this attempt to subvert, through blogs
and handbills and word of mouth, the propaganda machineries
that dominate the airwaves, that the artists have taken
as their inspiration. The festival is a call to resist,
and a declaration of the resistance to come.
Alam, Festival Director