Animal Farm and Zimbabwe

I was recently encouraged by a close friend to read Animal Farm by George Orwell. I heard of the book a long time ago but never got around to reading it and I am glad that I finally have (thank-you …..). At the time of publication in 1945 it was an allegory of the Russian revolution but in recent times it has been compared to governments that have taken over from colonial powers only to become worse off than the so-called colonial oppressors. The characters in the book can be associated with real life characters. For this reason the book has stirred a lot of controversy and has even been banned in some countries. The book outlines a shift to totalitarianism and the effect it has on a population. It leads to a state where people start thinking as a group which affects individual judgement. That is the problem with the world we live in today. The world is ruled by a very small percentage of people who make decisions for the rest of us. No-one is standing up for what they believe in and are taking whatever comes their way. As a result they are suffering and will continue to do so until they speak up. The little that is said will count in making the world a better place.In the book it all started off with a dream of rebellion and freedom that a white boar Old Major shared with the animals on the farm just before his death. The cleverer animals on the farm, the pigs held secret meetings where they planned a rebellion against the enemy, man. At the forefront were two main pigs, Snowball and Napoleon who during the planning of the rebellion taught themselves to read and write and came up with seven commandments that the animals were to live by. Their plans came to fruition and animals drove Mr. Jones of his farm.

After the rebellion the pigs took up a leadership role. Napoleon and Snowball did not see eye to eye on a number of issues and Snowball was eventually driven out of the farm leaving Napoleon as the sole ruler. With the passage of time, life for the animals did not improve as they worked more and received less rations which was the opposite of what they were promised. A number of events took place that the animals thought were against the seven commandments they were living by. For example, the fifth commandment stated “no animal shall drink alcohol,” but the pigs took to the drink. One night the animals found Squealer, Napoleon’s obedient follower and propagandist on the floor after a fall from a ladder on the wall with the commandments. He was holding a paint brush and next to him was an overturned pot of paint. One of the animals knew exactly what was going on but did not say anything. Later on the animals noticed that there was yet another commandment they had remember wrong for the fifth commandment no read “no animal shall drink alcohol in excess.”

The animals were living in a society where they would take it as it is and not speak up for what they believed in. Fear had been instilled in the hearts of the animals with the help of Napoleon’s feared bodyguards the dogs. The pigs gradually embarrassed the ‘human’ way of life and one day they paraded around walking on their hind legs. On that very same day the seven commandments had been replaced with a single statement that read “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.” In the end the animals could no longer tell the difference between the pigs and the humans.

The story that George Orwell tells is reminiscent of events that have taken or are taking place in Zimbabwe and other countries around the world. It starts of with a liberation struggle after which there are promises of a better life to follow but with the passage of time that is not the case. Laws are changed or altered to suit the needs of the people in power and fear is instilled within the population who become afraid to speak up for what they believe in and against an oppressive regime.

If you haven’t read Animal Farm (Signet Classics) I would encourage you to read it. It is an easy read that will stir up a number of emotions especially if you can relate to what is going on in the book. If you have read it, what thoughts and emotions did it stir up?

9 Responses to Animal Farm and Zimbabwe

  1. T January 7, 2008 at 4:19 pm #

    Well written. I read the book and was struck by now it is so simillar to the situation in Zimbabwe. The thing that got me the most is this totalitarian way of thinking. If we continue to be scared to speak out and stand for what is right (what we beleive in) how do we expect anything to change. How many “Boxers” are out there yet “Boxer” was the character we resented the most, the more oppressed the animals got the harder he worked until it killed him. It’s not only in governments that this happens, in all areas of our lives. We should think as individuals and avoid the “Abilene paradox” – that most agreement in organizations is actually false consensus which occur because many people feel they might be isolated, censured or ridiculed if they voice objections. This often leads groups to act on inappropriate goals and is a setup for organizational failure. Thanks for the post.

    • Samson Manunure February 10, 2015 at 4:31 am #

      Need this book, where can i get it in Zimbabwe

  2. Gsmurffyha1 January 7, 2008 at 5:17 pm #

    This is very interesting information.Keep on getting the word out.

    – garry

  3. Living Zimbabwe January 7, 2008 at 9:01 pm #

    @ T

    You are correct in saying that it is not only in government that this happens. If we were to sit down and have a think about we would see that it is happening in all areas of life as you rightly pointed out. We do need to speak out and stand up for what we believe in. If we were to all speak out we would be able to very easily overthrow unjust rulers. We just need to get over the fear that most of us have.

    @ Garry

    Thanks for stopping by. Please do stop by again sometime and help in getting the word out.

  4. KOGY January 8, 2008 at 12:48 pm #

    I have heard of this book but have never bothered reading it, guess I will now. Thanx

    Quite an interesting story, leaders or politicians always think of themselves. They are never in there for the people. They only need the POVO only when they need their support just to use them.

    What happened to the real leaders, what happened to those union leaders, they have abandoned the people, and in our case we have abandoned each other. It’s every man for himself in Zim today.

    Ta,

  5. Living Zimbabwe January 8, 2008 at 8:43 pm #

    KOGY,

    Thanks for your input. Politicians are always thinking about themselves. I guess people change when they get into a position of power and once they have had a taste of it, letting go becomes a problem.

    Zimbabwe is in a situation where people are doing whatever they can to get by and not giving a thought about the person next door.

    When you get around to reading the book please do let us know what you thought about it.

  6. Villager January 27, 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    George Orwell wrote another book that stands the test of time –> 1984.

    I think that you are doing a wonderful service with this blog. I look forward to coming back often.

    peace, Villager

  7. Living Zimbabwe January 29, 2008 at 10:45 am #

    Villager,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    1984 was mentioned in Animal Farm’s foreword and it looks like it will be another interesting read.

    I hope to see you around again sometime soon.

  8. VictorBrown June 21, 2009 at 12:01 am #

    Orwell was as wrong about the Soviet Union as his 'lessons' are irrelevant tot he situation in Zimbabwe, but what can we expect from an Eton Schoolboy, a colonial policeman (Indian imperial police), and a state agent (Information Reserch department, British IMperial Secret Service)?

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