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Animal Farm Revisited

Baba G Jallow
(Review) - As the dramatic overthrow of Farmer Jones and his human companions drifted further into the past, the ‘lower animals’ on Animal Farm grew more and more restive. Some grew very angry at what they saw as Napoleon’s treasonable and vicious treachery and backsliding on his lofty promises. In spite of all the assurances that the long-snouted Squealer, Napoleon’s faithful crony, that the great leader had their best interests at heart, the lower animals just could not be convinced any longer and grew increasingly suspicious of the pigs’ motives. And for good reasons too, the latest of which was that Napoleon had pretended to conduct an election and was later declared the mudslide winner by the carefully orchestrated Dependent Total Commission. Napoleon now lifted his snout to the skies and arrogantly responded to questions with condescending grunts and cynical outbursts of hell loser!

While Clover the horse, Muriel the goat and Minimus the poet were often carried away by Squealer’s honey-coated oratory, Benjamin the donkey, Moses the
Baba G Jallow
raven, and a great number of animals maintained a good deal of doubt in Napoleon the pig’s sincerity. Though he could not boast of such intelligence as the pigs possessed, Benjamin the donkey was sure that something had been going seriously wrong since Napoleon’s fierce dogs chased Snowball the pig, a former leading figure of his regime, out of Animal Farm accusing him of complicity with the ousted Farmer Jones at the battle of the Cowshed. Even Toady the frog agreed with Benjamin that Snowball was the architect and hero of that memorable battle against Farmer Jones and his bunch of human invaders. In spite of Napoleon’s claims to the contrary, Benjamin was sure that he heard Snowball cry attack! and saw the brave pig butt and bite Jones himself, sending him on his heels. That Napoleon should therefore insist that Snowball was a traitor just could not make sense to Benjamin, though for many years, he kept mute about what he thought. When he felt really pissed off at Napoleon’s treachery, Benjamin the donkey would turn his backside in the direction of Napoleon’s mansion, hold his breath, and let out a long and loud fart as an expression of his displeasure at the ungrateful and treacherous pig.

It was not only Benjamin who grew increasingly restive and angry under the rule of the clever pigs of Animal Farm. Many other animals were getting increasingly worried and angry. Over the years, they had seen Napoleon become more and more like Farmer Jones in more and more respects. They had seen him grow more and more arrogant by the hour, more and more wealthy, and more and more fat and confident that he could do just anything and get away with it because he had fierce dogs guarding him and ready to execute anyone like they executed those innumerable cows, sheep, and hens who were accused of collaborating with Snowball. The lower animals were particularly pissed off that Napoleon had cultivated the nauseating habit of loudly proclaiming that he possessed supernatural powers and that he was actually some kind of divine being in pigskin. Napoleon not only made such dubious proclamations: he also insisted, upon pain of death and destruction that all the lower animals accept his words without doubt or question. In spite of their dullness of wit, Benjamin the donkey, Muriel the goat, Minimus the poet, and indeed all the lower animals had begun realizing that Napoleon the pig had fast become worse than Farmer Jones. Even the sheep, who piped “four legs good, two legs better” when Napoleon decided to walk on two legs, were growing less enthusiastic about their song. Now when they sang it, they only slightly parted their lips and half-heartedly bleated . . . ur le goo--- wo leg mbe . . . with their eyes closed, and often dropped a few piles of dung as they sang as a show of defiance and resistance.

Of course, Napoleon was not to be openly challenged by anyone on Animal Farm - sheep, goat, monkey, donkey or pig. He ensured that his gang of faithful dogs was well fed and kept as stupid as possible by criminalizing all thinking among their ranks. Those dogs that showed the slightest signs of displeasure at Napoleon’s rule or exhibiting any suspicious behavior were effectively terminated. So that the recent history of Animal Farm was sprinkled with a series of sudden and unexplained arrests, summary executions, disappearances, and remote-controlled treason trials of dogs formally considered loyal to Napoleon. Of course, these trials, where Napoleon took the liberty to order their procedure, were merely put up for show. No one was ever declared innocent at these trials. Every single dog or other animal brought before these tribunals were declared guilty as charged.

To ensure that his plan to subdue and control all the animals worked perfectly, Napoleon appointed his most faithful crony Squealer the Dealer, Director of Animal Affairs. He also ordered his storekeepers to supply the best honey and grain to Kokoliko, his faithful black cockerel, so that his voice would become louder and clearer when he announced the numerous exploits of the gallant Napoleon and proclaimed the verity of his divinity on top of Napoleon’s miracle tree, the tallest on Animal Farm, every dawn, every noon, and every sunset. This tree was designated a miracle tree and sign of Napoleon’s divinity when it had three fruits stuck together. The Great God Yallah, it was proclaimed throughout the land, was demonstrating Napoleon’s near-divinity to the lower animals by causing a triplet fruit to sprout from the belly of that tree, even though it was not pregnant. All the other pigs at the farm were kept well fed and well clothed and some sows he honored by taking them on as his mistresses and concubines. He ensured that his clever dealings with Mr. Squinteyes of dubious fame filled the lower animals with awe at his mental prowess and made them see that he was indeed a superior kind of pig whose name was even mentioned in the holy books. To drive the message of his invincibility and mental prowess home, Napoleon ordered that the seven principles of Animalism be abolished and replaced with the bold caption: ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, PIGS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHER ANIMALS, and NAPOLEON IS MORE EQUAL THAN EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD!

When Napoleon sold Boxer the great horse to the horse slaughterer, he totally lost the loyalty of more animals. Benjamin the donkey, Clover the horse, and Minimus the poet were particularly aggrieved. Squealer’s explanation that Boxer had been taken to a hospital in Willingdon Farm failed to convince the animals. And when news of Boxer’s death reached their tortured ears, their worst fears and suspicions were confirmed in no uncertain terms. Surely, Boxer did not deserve such cruel treatment from Napoleon whom he always insisted was always right. But because Napoleon’s fierce dogs menacingly growled and bared their sharp, bloodthirsty teeth when anyone asked stupid questions, the animals took Squealer’s explanation quietly but angrily. Boxer was never mentioned in public again, but the animals angrily whispered about him and cursed Napoleon whenever they were in their private spaces. Throughout that day, Benjamin the donkey ate more hay than ever before and deliberately picked up and swallowed every piece of rubbish he could find. As soon as darkness fell on Animal Farm, Benjamin crept quietly to a few feet away from an open window of Napoleon’s mansion, turned his backside to it, and let out a long, drawn, silent fart. As he walked away, he heard Napoleon loudly coughing, spluttering, cursing, and asking what the hell was wrong with everybody in that darned house! Benjamin the donkey, like a few other animals on the Farm, had discovered the power of the secret weapons of the weak, and they were going to use them generously against the tyrant Napoleon. No help from goats!
Written by Baba Galleh Jallow


0 #3 2011-12-26 06:46
6. And my favourite character of all, Benjamin the Donkey, who I do NOT remember as the dissident you describe, but as I say my memory may be lapsing. I loved Benjamin for one reason: "Whenever he was asked whether things were better under the Humans or under Animal Independence, Benjamin simply answered: "Donkeys live a long time".

Thank you for taking me down memory lane. When my class wrote a petition against a teacher, the whole class was caned by the Head - except Dida who was away and did not sign the petition. The next morning there was grafitti on the classroom blackboard: "Under the wise leadership of Comrade Dida we were caned 3 each"!
0 #2 2011-12-26 06:38
1. Jones would be Jawara in your scenario, but Jawara was such a nice man so it would not fit;
2. Napoleon would be my friend Jammeh and fits like a glove;
3. Snowball would be who - Singhateh, Hydara, Sabbally? Doesn't fit, doesn't it does it, since none of them was as nice as Snowball?
4. Boxer, in relation to his gallant efforts to the Revolution and his sad death is none other than Baba Jobe!
5. Squealer would be both FJC and Yankuba Touray combined;
0 #1 2011-12-26 06:29
Well, well Mr. Jallow, a "review" or a well aimed "fart" in President Jammeh's direction? Either way it is a brilliant extract and I assume you have not changed anything - though I do not recall "The Dependent Total Commission" when we studied this book at school nearly 40 years now. I don't expect you will get much understanding of your "review" from your Marble Voters compatriots, so let me try and see if I can help by relating the books characters to contemporary Gambian personalities:-

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