People fighting for change are always labelled ‘terrorists’ by those whose power is threatened. ‘Yet revolutionaries can turn into respected statespeople within a few years if it suits the rich world’s interests. Here are a few prominent examples:
Once a leader of the notorious Stern Gang, which conducted bomb attacks on the British rulers of Palestine in 1940-1. Now Prime Minister of Israel, in succession to Menachem Begin, who was also denounced by the British as a terrorist while leading the Irgun.
Imprisoned by the British for his part in the Mau Mau rebellion against colonial rule in 1953, he became President of Kenya on its independence in 1964. He ruled until his death in 1979 and was much respected by the West as a moderate’ i.e. a leader who followed the Western economic model.
Chief of staff of Mao Zedong’s Red Army when it was still fighting a revolutionary war, he has been the effective ruler of China since Mao’s death and the fall of the Gang of Four. He is now seen by the West as a great moderniser, a re former of Mao’s ‘excesses (he has, for instance, allowed Coca Cola into China).
Others in the process of being transformed into ‘statespeople include Mozambique’s President Samora Machel (especially since March’s non-aggression pact with South Africa and Palestine Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat (especially since his overtures to Egypt in 1983).
A leader of the African National Congress, he may not live long enough to see South Africa liberated from apartheid and become a statesperson himself. He has been imprisoned since 1962, and recently refused an offer of freedom conditional upon his living in a black-only bantustan.