‘All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.’
— John Steinbeck, Once There was a War
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
To make afarnou you will need warm water, some salt and yeast. A mix of flour: wholemeal, white, corn, and semolina, ideally. In practice, whatever you have will do, and a hint of sugar. And, if you have oats or bran or seeds, you may mix those in as well.
Knead the ingredients into a dough. Let it ferment. Go find wood. Start a fire to heat the stones. Put the dough directly on them.
Watch it rise in the misshapen earthen oven. Watch the sun rise over the dunes.
Wake the others. Breakfast is warm and ready to be dipped in honey or oil.
One thousand three hundred years ago the North African Amazighs were at war; tribes pitted against one another across today’s Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco. A truce was finally brokered by a traveling wise man who said that each tribe would have to make breakfast for the other. Each tribe did. They still do.
The Amazighs celebrate the Idernan festival every year; between January and March, they knead dough and make breakfast, one tribe at a time, for them all. They share afarnou, sfenj – a semi-sweet fried dough, and amlou – an almond spread, with honey, dates, and argan oil; a joyously sticky affair.
This year they have just finished celebrating their 2968th Idernan. Meanwhile and elsewhere, other non-sticky fingers have been pulling on nervous triggers: Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Yemen, Syria, Iraq. Israel and the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, South Sudan. Somalia, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali,
the United States: eight school shootings with casualties in the first seven weeks of the year.
A firearm alone is not lethal, correct, and violence is everywhere, true. Because apathetic fingers on triggers tend to sweat, slip, quiver,
But fingers dipped in honey tend to be licked.
Hands that make breakfast together will share it. Men will not make war while they eat. Violence will stop if weapons are not fired. ‘Change’ is an action verb.
To make peace you will need change, all your fingers, all the grit you have on hand. Apply those to every idea, statement, connection, social media post you make. Speak, march, campaign, boycott. Make noise, pancakes, omelets, croissants, crêpes. Get your hands covered in flour and honey.
If you rise the dough and sun will follow. They will have to. Just watch.