On the 5th of (Never)mber, Africa went through the biggest revolution that the continent and the world had ever seen. The Western media reported it as “suffering” but most observes knew that the continent merely “had” a revolution. From North to South, East and West, the cry rang out that things had changed – Africa was going to be free. Africa was going to be run by Africans – it was finally going to be a home for Africans.
It began in the same manner all revolutions begin; Someone was pissed off by the fact that his five-year-old child had as much chances of survival as a wounded gazelle in a lion cage. What made it painful was that Someone had spent all of his life working in mines, digging up diamonds and gold and silver from land he felt was rightfully his. He was angry that he had been born here but that the wealth kept going to people he had never seen, people who had never worked for it.
This state of affairs did not sit well with Someone. He decided to tell Someone Else. Someone Else was also angry. But she was angry about the recent increase in food prices. Someone Else had only made it as far as Grade 10 in school before war in her country made her flee. Since then, she made R2000 a month scrubbing floors for Those People. With a family of seven to support, things had come to a head – it was already hard enough getting water and thin porridge. Someone and Someone Else decided that they had had enough and called their friends: Him and Her and Them.
Him, Her and Them were all poor – together, their total monthly income could not buy any of them a pair of shoes. They spent most of their nights sleeping under bridges, fighting for cigarette butts and running away from the city police. Her had an option though – she could always stand on a street corner and wait for one of Those People to come and use her services. Her could not charge much – she was dirty and not that pretty – but at least she had some means of production between her legs. Him and Them were not that lucky; they stole where they can and begged the rest of the time. They stole from Their People and from Those People. Anything to get something to eat.
When Someone, Someone Else, Him, Her and Them got together, they decided that Something had to be done. They were tired of begging and stealing; they were tired of being raped in back streets and being paid R20 for sucking off Those People, they were tired of surviving. They wanted to live. They picked a date and decided that on the 5th of (Never)mber, Something would finally be done.
So they got together and called for people in similar situations to pledge support for their cause. When the time came, Something would be done. The call was answered slowly – people like Them had no hope of things changing, they had been promised milk and honey since Adam and Eve. The gods had abandoned them and their ancestors did not respond to their prayers. People like Them were also scared – every time that they asked for Something to be done, they were met with either violence or elections; a combination of both in most cases. Violence at least took you away from this cruel world – elections were a slow death. So when Someone and his group asked for people like Them to join their cause, it was no surprise that the movement was very slow.
It picked up speed though. People like them were spread far and wide – they had no Twitter or Facebook to communicate but they had something more powerful, something that never suffered from overloading or experienced downtime. They had Poverty. And that was all they needed. People like Them knew that diarrhoea was the same in every country; dirty water was the same here and there, hunger was universal and death through preventable causes was closer to a person than their skin colour. Poverty brought them together and across the continent, the message was spread – Something was going to be done.
From alleys, sewers and shacks on the outskirts of towns, people like Them heeded the call. From village to village they congregated and talked amongst themselves and agreed that Something would indeed be done. The chosen date drew nearer.
This constant chattering between Them did not go unnoticed. Those People were watching and listening – they had spies everywhere and they knew everything – it was the only way to keep people like Them in check. This time though, they were scared and afraid of what it was that could be happening – they did not know what “Something” was.
Those People decided to have a meeting amongst themselves to see what could be done about Them. Some suggested violence, most others suggested elections. A handful suggested that they try to reason with Them. Those People had already tried bribing Them but this time there were too many of Them to bribe – there was not enough money to go around.
Also, something was different this time. Someone and his people did not want money. They wanted their lives back and Those People could not give them that. Those People really became scared when they realised that Something really was going to be done and that that Something was going to be done to them. Some fled, most remained – they were not going to let people like Them just take over.
The days of the calendar slowly ticked by.
On the 5th of (Never)mber, without direction and without planning, Something happened. From Cape Town to Cario, Lagos to Nariobi; in Kinshasa, in Harare, in Freetown and all of the other places in between, Something was done. It was so simultaneous it even scared Them. There were no negotiations, there were no elections. Violence was useless because Those People did not have enough people on their side. Even if they did, most of the people would have been some of Them and this time, they did not want to betray their kinfolk.
Someone, we cannot be sure it was really Someone – because when people like Them got together they all looked the same – walked up the steps of Parliament and declared that Something was finally being done. Someone said that it was time for Africa to be free of Those People. Though people like Them did not hate Those People, they were tired of the Things That They Did. They had made their lives hard, they had exploited them, they had promised much and given little, they drove big BMWs to do grocery shopping across the street while people like them had to walk 20km to get water – it was time that Those People were told that The Things That They Did would no longer be tolerated.
People like Them cheered.
Someone declared that what came from the soil would belong to the People of the Soil and not those who proclaimed to own it. Someone said that governments who used 2-ply toilet paper while everyone else had to squat and use their hands were no more. Someone even said that the West would pay market price for things that people like Them made. People like Them cheered.
Someone declared that from now on, leaders would be held accountable by the poorest of the poor and not their peers because obviously birds of a feather would flock together. Someone declared that Something was being done and from this time forward, Africa would no longer be looked down upon – it would become a force to be reckoned with. It would take time, but it would eventually get there – these are the kinds of things that Someone said. “Africa will belong not to Those People but to Him and Her and Someone Else.”
The sound of cheering cannot be captured in words.
On the 5th of (Never)mber, Africa changed forever. I remember the day like it was yesterday – I forgot how Someone looked like, but I remember the force of the words that were said. It stirred me in ways I cannot describe, Someone’s words went right to the core. They released all of the pent up frustration and anger I had been carrying for so long. Someone spoke for me. Someone spoke for all of us.
And from that day on, Africa was no longer the same.
If you have not heard of this revolution, it is because it never happened.
Author’s note: If you have watched V for Vendetta, you will have picked out the common thread that runs through this story and the more popular one. Rest easy, this is not plagiarism – this is merely an acknowledgement of the brilliance of that storyline, of its vision and genius – this is merely a poor imitation.
Also, please not, that Someone, Someone Else, Him, Her, Them, people like Them and Those People, and Africa are not based on real characters. Any similarity between them and any living person is merely coincidental. However, if you should meet such people, please say hello.