In high school I studied English Literature. We did analysis of a couple of books including the Government Inspector, Things Fall Apart and Animal Farm. In retrospect, I feel my level of analysis was yet to grow. I noticed this when I went further with the subject at Advanced Level where I did Shakespeare, A passage to India, Pride and Prejudice and others, well including a couple of poems, I was particularly fond of Cambodia by James Fenton perhaps because of how clear it painted the need to put the guns down.
Anyway, on my summer holiday back home, I recently got a hold of my old Animal Farm book. When I read it afresh, I saw it in a completely different light. I was able to relate a lot of parts in the book to what is happening today. In its simplicity, there is a myriad of points the book has tackled, George Orwell was easily a genius. All of us are very much alive in this book and anyone who claims they aren’t is very likely to be in denial.
To begin with, when Old Major begins to articulate his vision and the status quo, I feel his audience is African countries. “Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.”
He goes on to say, “But is this simply part of the order of nature? Is it because this land of ours is so poor that it cannot afford a decent life to those who dwell upon it? No, comrades, a thousand times no! The soil of England is fertile, its climate is good, it is capable of affording food in abundance to an enormously greater number of animals than now inhabit it.”
Today we could ask similar questions. It is a no brainer that Africa is the richest continent with unimaginable resources; diamonds, gold, sugar, salt, petroleum, copper, uranium, zinc, woods, tropical fruits and the listing could go on and on. However, the average inhabitant has a miserable, laborious and short life. Why is a continent full of potential under backward conditions? Are the resources not enough to eradicate poverty? Why are we constantly seeking foreign aid? Are we not capable of mobilising ourselves to effect change?
Indeed globalization has brought remarkable results that have benefited many countries. Countries now favor opening up since seeing the importance of free trade. All this is meant to be a non- zero-sum game and ideally it is beautiful, but in reality it isn’t. It is dangerous, it is scary, and it poses drastic threats to the future- the future of Africa. Tax evasion and avoidance, dumping, corruption, price fixing, stealing resources and the list goes on. The process has made some countries to become ‘more equal than others more than it has ever been.
According to Honest Accounts 2017,about $162B was pumped into Africa and $203B left. This shows $42B was extracted in profits. This may look like fair profit, but it includes tax evasions, corruption, illegal fishing, hunting, and trade, forcing poor conditions on local labor to cut costs among many others. Multinational companies pay very little tax to our governments who only benefit marginally. The taxation policies are not exactly designed by Africans, but by Western governments and these policies advocate for lowering taxes.
Old major goes on to say “Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself. Our labour tills the soil, our dung fertilises it, and yet there is not one of us that owns more than his bare skin.”
Africa is a pawn in the hands of man which is the Western world, and recently, China. In what is supposed to be fair exchange, some countries are benefiting way more than others. The aid, loans, grants, donations and other funding keeps us in a poverty cycle. It is a marvel African leaders continue to ignore Dambisa Moyo said. It is so sad how we are giving a lot of our power to these countries. The future is really scary if we do not wake up. We can’t keep being fooled by these countries .We need a revolution.
In this daylight robbery, we cannot overlook the role a few of our very own brethren play. The elite few simply allow wealth to flow out of Africa and this way they become wealthy at the expense of their own blood. Judas Iscariot surely never died on that tree. If those with authority and in positions to make it hard for our wealth to be stolen lost their greed and realized they have a future to protect, we could have solved a huge puzzle on our way to development. We can’t keep obtaining bribes, gifts and other short term benefits just to unlock access for foreigners to steal our land, our minerals, and our children’s future. Our politicians need to truly have love for the people by eliminating corruption and by putting us first. Even a maniac like Trump puts his people first. We can blame foreigners all we like, but the responsibility remains in our hands. Our leaders need to exercise better leadership by negotiating better deals, ensuring transparency and accountability when aid is received, better management and distribution of resources so that women and vulnerable in society can be able to benefit. Our governments must avoid contracting debt from creditors who offer shady terms that could easily leave our backs against the wall and possibly lead to state capture. We need to curb corruption at all levels of society. The onus is majorly upon us.
George Orwell also brings Moses in the picture. Moses represents organized religion and the typical sermon of the flowery place on the other side. Today religion is one of the factors why we can’t progress as Africa. Fake prophets, and money centered religious leaders are reaping from the poor while imparting laziness and irrationality into their heads through dogma. A lot of people want the easy way out and will not take action to change or develop their current poor state when they are totally capable. They would rather pray. The power to change lies in everyone and God has ensured that in all of us.
We get to see how the pigs change a lot of rules to justify a lot of their wrong deeds, but because animals, e.g. boxer, won’t read or pay attention to what existed prior, they are blind to see the amendments. Also they are gullible. Today a lot are bound in the chains of ignorance. They do not know exactly what to stand for. They will support a political party like a football team at the expense of their children’s future. They have no idea what the constitution or the fundamentals that would show how valuable they are and what rights they possess. I wouldn’t blame them though, their woes are circumstantial. Boxer is the uneducated poor man on whom politicians thrive daily. He will sale his vote for temporary pleasure. Tell me this is does not exist today.
Even the educated that do not stand up against the wrong are as good as boxer. Former late Zambian President Michael Sata used to say the greatest cowards are the educated. At least boxer is given a little leeway because he is ignorant, but the educated who know how they should be treated are expected to protest when the government takes advantage of them or asks them to pay a funny tax. The attitude to fight for our inheritance has died out. The true government is the people and we constantly forget that.
We could go on and on with the symbolism in animal farm, but the most important thing is to realize our position and act. It is for Africa to stand up and realize that there will never be Africa if we keep selling it for coins. We could also hope to see the light in Africa- to eliminate the backwardness we suffer from and to stop tolerating neo-colonialism. We can change the game, the power has always been with the people.