THIS is National Book Week, and schools, libraries and municipalities are encouraged to host diverse activities to highlight the fun of reading and enjoying books.
Quite ironic I think, as there are still thousands of pupils still waiting for school books. But that is another story.
I would like to recommend a "must read book" for all municipal and government employees, as well as all deployees, to read on job application/ appointment.
In 1945 George Orwell wrote a very simple story called Animal Farm about a group of animals whose leaders promise them a wonderful life, but who end up starving and miserable. It tells of the vision of the farm's prize pig and how he encourages the animals to rebel against their human masters, take over the farm and establish a model democratic community in which "all animals are equal".
However, power corrupts. Gradually a dictator pig emerges and betrays the animals back into slavery, and a new slogan emerges: "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".
But this simple story has a deeper meaning. Orwell wrote this story to warn about the dangers of leaders who have too much power.
Orwell's view was that power-hungry leaders, including revolutionary leaders, can become corrupted by new power. In other words, Animal Farm shows how absolute power can corrupt absolutely.
Originally, Orwell wanted to defend the ideals of tolerance, honesty, decency and truth, and stood for the democratic ideals of freedom of speech and freedom of thought.
Although this book was written 67 years ago, it is still very thought provoking and raises relevant questions. For example, how trustworthy are political leaders once they are in power?
Does total power always lead to corruption?
Also, Animal Farm makes us think about how a government can control information and news. A government totally in control of education and the media can control the way its population thinks.
During apartheid years, the Nationalist government used education and the media to stay in power.
Surely the challenge now is to make sure that the current government learns from this and never repeats those mistakes of the past. Isn't that what "the struggle" was all about?
A few useful definitions may be helpful to readers of Animal Farm:
Corruption – dishonest behaviour by politicians who use their power for their own benefit/advantage.
Democracy – a type of government by the people who have control over their own lives by voting for their leaders.
Elections take place every few years so that if people are not happy with their leaders, they can vote them out.
Jan Hopkins, Fort Beaufort