Opinion and Analysis
It’s time to reflect on revolutions
Posted Monday, July 16 2012 at 23:01
Birthdays and national days are times of celebration and July is special. Birthdays are rather private and mainly for children, mostly those below ten years of age.
Children believe they have rights to change the “birthday” so that it does not fall on school days.
National celebration days, however, are public and cannot be changed to suit convenience unless there is a “revolution” whose leaders proclaim new national days. Revolutions appear to come in the month of July, named after an unusual Roman general, Julius Caesar.
He helped to “revolutionise” ancient Rome by discarding republican principles and transforming Rome into an empire. Assassinated on the floor of the Senate, he was elevated to demigod status and the month of his “birthday” became July. Children born in July tend to be named Julius or Juliet and can be fussy about celebrating “birthdays.”
Among the “revolutionary” countries with July national days are the United States, France, and South Sudan. Each had violent and peculiar backgrounds that made certain days in July national days.
Rebels in North America fighting for their rights as “Englishmen” were prodded by one of the most effective propagandists of all times, Thomas Paine, into declaring independence.
Although they eventually did it on July 4, 1776, claiming that “all men are created equal”, it took an additional seven years of fighting before England could accept defeat and let them go in 1783.
They needed another five years to craft a constitution, and mount a governing experiment, that created the United States of America.
The drafters of that constitution, with its African slave importation and protection provisions, did not envision that 220 years later a son of an African would be president leading Americans in celebrating the “Fourth of July.”
The success of the English rebels was partly due to the assistance given by Louis XVI of France.
The assistance, however, helped to bankrupt France and to spread rebel ideals of “equality” and “freedom” that undermined his country.
With his expensive wife, Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI was out of touch with reality and his attempt to suppress agitation by commoners led to the jail break-in at Bastille on July 14, 1789 that released prisoners and everyone became “citizen” as titles were abolished.
The heads of enemies of the revolution were chopped off, including that of Louis XVI, referred to as “Citizen Capet.”
The French changed their calendar to start with the year of the revolution, 1789, with July 14 as the most important day of the year. Bastille, the jail, no longer exists but Bastille Day remains the symbol of that July “revolution.”
Between the “Fourth of July” and “Bastille Day” is July the Ninth, South Sudan’s day of independence.