Animal Farm series: Taiwan Diaspora writes for us

Much like the pigs in Animal Farm, the Royal Family has established itself as the ruling class in eSwatini. The Monarch has become tyrannical in its disregard for the constitution and rule of law. The Monarch removing dissenting opinions resembles the false confessions and execution of the animals the pigs feared. Monarchial Democracy is touted as peaceful and promoting equity, a hypocrisy given the disintegration and perversion of the constitution of the country.

This hypocrisy is amplified by the Monarch's blatantly unprincipled actions of late. Monarchial Democracy preaches equality but has established and promoted class structures. These class divisions (with Royalty as the elite) are used to manipulate Swazis for their own benefit. Where then is freedom and democracy?

The consequences of a naive working class

One of the things that Animal farm focuses on isn't just the oppressive powers but also the animals that are oppressed. In the context of eSwatini the society is hardworking and loyal but gullible just like the animals in the story where the oppression they experience doesn't just arise from the tactics and motives of Royalty and the government but can also be attributed to the naivete of Swazis themselves. In a situation where we are faced with a political dilemma, instead of looking at different avenues of action to take we are instead showing an unwillingness or inability to think for ourselves. The naivete of Swazis has also been demonstrated in our prolonged unwillingness to question authority which has resulted in the working class suffering the full extent of royal oppression.

The use of language in the abuse of power

The story also highlights how language can be manipulated to be an instrument of control. The pigs justified their oppressive behaviour with gradual twists of the Seven commandments and rhetoric. Swazis heartily embraced King Sobhuza’s visionary idea of the Tinkhundla System (which was presented as a trial run that would be scrapped if it was not beneficial to Emaswati). When King Sobhuza passed on the meaning of his words were twisted and Swazis have to this day been stuck with the twisted version of his ideas.

The Constitution of Eswatini, like the Seven Commandments in Animal Farm, justifies the Government and Royalty's treachery. Swazis are said to have freedom of speech and are equal but numerous cases Swazis, under the guise of enjoying the said freedoms, have been persecuted. The abuse of the phrase ‘Freedom of speech and 'equal and peaceful' is typical to the amendment of “All animals are equal' to 'but some animals are more equal than others” in Animal Farm.

The failure of intellect

In Animal Farm deep skepticism is shown about the actions of intellectuals. The pigs are portrayed as the most intelligent animals but nothing of value materializes from this intelligence. The Government and Royalty have continuously used their ‘intelligence’ to manipulate and abuse the citizens of Eswatini. The story also shows that intelligence, without the moral sense to engage in politics and the courage to act is worthless. Despite being literate, the Emaswati in positions to influence change have not been interested in questioning orders but rather in obeying them to the detriment of those that they serve.

NB: This article is part of a series by Emaswati in Taiwan as part of their campaign drawing the similarities between eSwatini and Taiwan.