A Cacophonous Revolution: When pans and pots become the voice of the protests

The people’s desire to feel part of something much bigger than themselves is what drives them to find new means of protesting collectively, and the "cacerolazo" is their paragon of unity.
by Nessryn Khalaf

14 November 2019 | 18:25

Source: by Annahar

  • by Nessryn Khalaf
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 14 November 2019 | 18:25

Demonstrators banging their pans and pots in Downtown, Beirut. (AFP)

BEIRUT: Cookware cacophony has been the spotlight of the Lebanese protests during the past few days, as protesters resorted to banging their pots and pans to denounce the country’s endemic corruption and escalating crisis.

The phenomenon known as "cacerolazo," which originates from "cacerola" -the Spanish word for pan or cooking pot, is a rampant form of protest in Latin America that resurfaced outside the continent in the past few years and gained prominence around the world.

It was first reported as a form of manifestation in Chile in 1971 when people used their empty pots and pans to protest the country’s atrocious food shortages under President Salvador Allende’s government. The same empty pans whose grievous banging sounds filled the streets of Chile later became tumultuous revolutionary weapons in Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Syria, Turkey, and now Lebanon.

“While my pans may be empty because my family can barely afford to bring food home anymore, the unanimous sound of our unity and pleas is anything but void,” explained Zeina Hammoud, an elderly protester living in Zarif who bangs her pans every night when she hears her neighbors doing it.

She told Annahar that while her deteriorating health has prevented her from joining everyone else in the streets, banging her pans to protest has been her way of expressing her dissent and disapproval of the government’s performance.

“My kitchenware is the dearest to my heart, and now I can finally use my favorite utensils to make a political statement,” she added.

While many believe the phenomenon to be futile, Lebanese demonstrators have managed to unanimously incorporate it into their daily protests in an amusing and pacific way.

“If only a few people were doing it, then even I would have found it useless and irritating, but since thousands of us are banging our pans as a harmless form of protesting, then it’s only a matter of time before this is observed nationwide,” Sara Tawil, a university student protesting in Riad al-Solh, told Annahar.

The people’s desire to feel part of something much bigger than themselves is what drives them to find new means of protesting collectively, and the "cacerolazo" is their paragon of unity. Most citizens who could not previously leave their homes can now protest in their most personal spaces- their balconies and windows.

“Having a newborn at home is the only reason why I haven’t demonstrated in the streets yet, but now my neighbors and I bang our pans every night in solidarity with the thousands whose cries are tantamount to our screaming pots and pans,” explained Lina Khatib, a Lebanese housewife from Ras El Nabeh.

However, creating harmonious music out of the banging sounds has also been observed, as protesters in Tripoli’s al-Noor Square and Beirut’s Riad al-Solh were seen beating their kitchenware to produce popular Lebanese Dabke tunes and well-known melodies by Fairouz. After all, what is a Lebanese revolution without a touch of pop culture?

Now people at home can also partake in the ardent protests and make them even more blaring with the noise of their banging pans. The people are no longer cooking just food with their pans, for now they also boil with the ardor and zeal of the burgeoning Lebanese revolution.

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