05
Dec

From Dream To Disaster – Che’s Congo Mission

Review of The African Dream: The Diaries of the Revolutionary War in The Congo; Ernesto Che Guevara; Perseus Distribution

– Shana Susan Ninan

How many histories, personal accounts, or even for that war stories, have you read that start this: “This is the history of a failure.”? That’s how Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara starts his The African Dream: The Diaries of the Revolutionary War in the Congo. Having stopped Lee Anderson’s biography of Che in the middle only to read Che’s account in the Congo, I must say it was worth the read. If Che thought it was a failure, he has also identified the errors, for future reference, in the epilogue of the book.

Che’s time in the Congo – April to November 1965 – was scattered with numerous events, little triumphs but loads of disappointment. Before going in to his failures, lemme tell you how well he did in the Congo. His diaries record his truthful reactions and responses in the African jungle. No wonder the Cuban government kept it under wraps for about four decades. Che appealed to me as an adventurer and a traveller. His thirst for society’s welfare and upliftment of the masses led him to see and feel their pulse.

I think what drove him to Congo were his urge to spread Communist practices in the rest of the world beyond Latin America and Cuba, and his extreme hate for US neo-imperialist colonisations. Che’s inclusive policy in dealing with his black and African-origin Cubans is quite commendable. His ability to plan and execute strategies, steadfastness to the cause, positive thinking even in the midst of downfall are the qualities of a matured Communist.

The infighting between the Congolese tribes, the friction between them and the Rwandans and the Tanzanians, the non-conducive climate, the laziness of the natives and the absolute neglect of the top brass of the Congolese government all contributed to Che’s fall.

How can you expect an untrained, uninitiated Congolese to believe in Che’s ideals and follow his orders without any questioning or murmur? Why would a people who fight neighbouring clans for land and agriculture be interested in uniting their country under Communist ideologies? I wondered how Che could grumble, though occasionally, about the natives’ lackadaisical approach when they don’t even want it, in the first place.

Che’s quality as a leader cannot be questioned by the events that took place in the Congo. His words and deeds have led thousands of later revolutionaries and thinkers to their goals.

Verdict: Illustrative account; neat text; slightly tedious and long-drawn in the second half. All in all, a must-read for Che’s fans and followers.

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Rating: 7.4/10 (5 votes cast)
From Dream To Disaster - Che's Congo Mission, 7.4 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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This entry was posted on Saturday, December 5th, 2009 at 10:58 am and is filed under Autobiography, Communism, History, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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