May 22, 2008
Animal Farm: leaders doing us a favour
I did not want this day to pass without being counted. How on earth did I forget that this is the second anniversary of President Museveni in power since the 2006 elections! It could only be the senile me to forget such an important day - May 12.

What consumed me and in the process made me fail to realise such an important day was some old book.
I recently stumbled upon a classic novel and it has consumed me to the point of forgetting to congratulate the President on another two years in power.

Animal Farm by George Orwell is still as interesting as it was when it was first written, but for us in Uganda its lessons are far more revealing. They help us to see things more clearly.

George Orwell might have written this novel long ago, but its message is still running rounds within us. Our bosses continue to manipulate us, the subjects, for their own good.

Those to whom power is bequeathed end up using it for their own prosperity; they end up worse than the real and imaginary evils [or past leaders] they ‘liberated’ us from!
This book has remained true to its message. Its message pans out everyday in our lives. Yes, I can still hear the words; four legs good, two legs bad still ringing in my mind.

I see how when too much power gets into the head, there is no return. The past saviours have been changed by time. Equality that we all cherished is but an illusion.
Leaders will need comfort to be able to think and run the affairs of the farm - our farm - for the good of all animals.

Yes, all animals are equal but some are more equal than others. We learn that the animals that inhabited the Manor Farm were mistreated and abused by their owner Jones. The animals rebelled and expelled Jones. They took over the farm, which they renamed Animal Farm.

Soon, however, the pigs [representing party bosses] begin to take special privileges for themselves while the majority of the working animals are left to work hard and eat less. The leaders enlist the farm’s dogs as enforcers to put down any dissent, real or imaginary, and they teach the sheep to bleat the party slogan when occasion arises.
At first, this is, “Four legs good, two legs bad”- animals (four legs) are good, humans (exploiters) are bad. As the new bosses settle in, the original seven commandments, which was the farm’s constitution, is changed to suit the pigs’ own agenda. The pigs eventually learn to walk on two legs, thus imitating the animals’ original exploiters. The Seven Commandments become one: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

The pigs re-name Animal Farm the Manor Farm - its original name - and invite the neighbouring human farmers, who symbolise the elite class against whom the animals revolted, to admire their results.

As the story ends, the pigs are not different from the human they expelled. Nothing captures the last bit like the speech given by Squealer the pig, renown for oratory, that made all animals sit by and listen:
“Comrades!” Squealer cried. “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this out of selfishness and privilege. Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole objective in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Yes, Jones would come back! Surely, comrades,” cried Squealer almost pleading…

As I closed the book after the last sentence, I wondered whether George Orwell knew that we could witness his allegories in our lives and times. That we all wanted change, but then change changed us. That constitutions are mere unedited pieces of written material. That leaders need to live in comfort so that they can think on our behalf, irrespective of the costs involved and whether we too have brains or mere fluids in our skulls.

Thus I wish you, comrade Yoweri Museveni and the NRM-O party, a happy though belated second anniversary of the 22nd-year in power. We the comrades in the struggle for the farm called Uganda remain loyal and still look forward to the fulfillment of the promises of “our” revolution. Amen.

Dismas Nkunda, The author is a human rights expert and specialist on refugee issues, nkundad13@yahoo.co.uk