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The Cost of Being a Revolutionary
Posted: Friday, July 18, 2008

By Reason Wafawarova
July 18, 2008

THE British ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, was so devastated by the Russia-China veto on the politically-motivated US-drafted sanctions resolution that he described this Western humiliation as having put the British foreign policy "in disarray".

His boss, David Miliband, the foreign secretary, bemoaned the development as "incomprehensible" and Sawers vaingloriously postured as a humanitarian by claiming: "The people of Zimbabwe need to be given hope that there is an end in sight to their suffering. The Security Council today has failed to offer them that hope."

What threw the British foreign policy into disarray is not the failure to give Zimbabweans hope over their suffering. Rather, Russia and China chose to think for themselves when the US is convinced that they alone should do the thinking for all mortals on the planet.

The US-led Western alliance is dismayed that the world order that calls on all other nations not to think for themselves has been violated – that in a manner BBC correspondent Andy Gallacher can only describe as a "big blow to the West".

The West expects all nations to kow-tow to their dictates and to feed on canned and prepared stuff. They are after a world system that ensures that humanity worships at the shrine of the strong-armed Emperor.

This is the shrine at which the world must converge in condemnation of all the dissidents that dare rebel against the mighty Americans and their surrogate allies Britain.

The names of such dissidents as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Hugo Chavez Frias of Venezuela, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe are supposed to be used somewhat as English parents used Napoleon Bonaparte's name in the first decades of the 19th century, to frighten and admonish children.

This is what happened to Emma Goldman in the 1890s – that Russian-born American advocate of women's rights and anti-elitism. For angering the US ruling elite, Goldman was made to enjoy national notoriety and she was virtually turned into a national bugaboo the same way President Mugabe has been turned into a Western monster.

This is the cost of rebelling against the Emperor. It is a price every revolutionary that will stand against imperialism will have to pay. For President Mugabe the price was first paid during the liberation struggle when his preferred title in the West was "terrorist". He became Mr Mugabe after he preached reconciliation and he was even honoured with an English knighthood in 1994. This was four years after the expiry of the willing buyer-willing seller land policy, in the hope that President Mugabe would dare not touch the farms.

When he revived questions about land redistribution in the mid-90s he was "beginning to lose his marbles". He did not know what he was doing, just like Martin Luther King Jnr was losing the plot when he joined the striking sanitation workers in Memphis.

When the Government wrote to Tony Blair over compensation for land that was to be acquired from some of the white commercial farmers, he was dismissed as insane.

The 1999 momentum on the land question agitated the British so much they decided to directly start interfering in our internal affairs.

The 2000 farm occupation by landless peasants were labelled lawlessness. Countries like Kenya, South Africa and Zambia were cited as good examples to follow.

But the landless villagers continued occupation of white-held farms, triumphantly declaring they were no longer less equal than others.

This kind of a declaration has a price and the Zimbabwe has been ruthlessly sanctioned as a result.

These are the sanctions whose perpetuation the Russia-China power vetoed at the UN Security Council on July 11. For their pains, the Russians have been threatened with ejection from the G8 and China has been labelled the protector of totalitarian regimes.

Emma Goldman was certainly on the mark when she contrasted the puny violence of individuals with the large-scale violence of the American state and she almost prophetically put US state power in its very sad context.

Said Goldman: "We Americans claim to be peace-loving people. We hate bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens of other nationalities."

This was in 1916, but one would think she could see Iraq and Afghanistan today.

To the Empire, social justice over little countries like Zimbabwe strikes as dangerous nonsense.

As such, the "nonsense" has to be stopped by any means possible. This explains the obsession with regime change in Zimbabwe.

Revolution is not a trade, as some people may suppose. If it were, then nobody would follow a trade at which you may work with the industry of a slave and die with the reputation of a mendicant.

The motives of any revolutionary must be deeper than mere pride, stronger than mere interest and nobler than just ego.

In this Zimbabwean revolution, some of us have been relegated to professional outcasts blacklisted by the mainstream capitalist job market – all for a prize that could easily be no different from what happened to Emma Goldman, to Thomas Sankara, Samora Machel, Simon Bolivar and all other heroes that were painted in the blackest of colours for standing up to the Empire.

This writer will testify that partaking in the revolution is driven by a motive far deeper than any financial reward, deeper than any form of family attachment, deeper than any level of friendship and stronger than any form of personal interest.

This is the invincible patriotic drive founded in the proud history of our motherland – the ethos we call our nationhood and our national identity. It is a quest for independence and sovereignty – values far deeper than personal ambition and so fundamental to the foundation of a nation.

No amount of persecution, ridicule or slander can possibly kill this passion enshrined in the infallible motive that drives a revolution. It is a motive no amount of riches can ever conquer and this is why the revolutionary spirit will manifest in the East, in the West, in the South and in the North – in all corners of this planet regardless of where one resides.

This is why threatening Peter Mavhunga with the withdrawal of his salary cannot silence his voice.

The path of a revolutionary for social justice and for the defeat of imperialism is strewn with thorns.

The path of a revolutionary is often obstructed by envy, sometimes growing to hatred, vanity and jealousy, and all these fill his or her heart with sadness.

It requires an inflexible will and tremendous enthusiasm not to lose all the faith in the cause under such conditions.

Even Venezuela's Simon Bolivar ended his last days in misery and called the revolution a "thankless" cause.

The representative of a revolutionising idea stands between two fires: on the one hand, the persecution by the existing powers which hold him responsible for all acts resulting from social and political conditions around him; and on the other, the lack of understanding on the part of his colleagues and would-be followers who often judge all his activity from the narrowest of a standpoint.

Thus it may happen that the representative of a revolution stands quite alone in the midst of a marauding multitude. After all, even the Jews gave Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the very same experience.

It is the cost of a revolution, sometimes paid by the shedding of blood.

The inevitable truth is that the mist that envelops the glory of a revolutionary walk will always dissipate, many times after the death of the revolutionary.

This will explain the mystery of the irony of honouring Nelson Mandela while young Nelson Mandelas doing exactly what Mandela did when he was their age in South Africa are being ridiculed and persecuted.

It explains the irony of honouring Martin Luther King while the Kings of today are still being crucified.

It explains the vanity of honouring Zimbabwe's Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi while the living Nehandas and Kaguvis are daily ridiculed and labelled the lowest level barbarians ever.

The most publicised picture to date is arguably that of Che Guevara and he is honoured as a revolutionary who trembled with indignation at any form of injustice.

But why are the living Guevaras crucified and persecuted at the same time their dead icon is being honoured in an outstanding manner?

Those in the revolutionary walk to empower the ordinary Zimbabwean must not tire and must draw courage from the fact that the prize that awaits every true revolutionary far outweighs the tribulations of today.

Zimbabwe we are one. It is time to unite and build our nation.

The Cubans say, "It is homeland or death", and together we will overcome.

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on or or visit

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