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A Guinea-Bissau Revolution

Dreamed 1999/4/24 by Chris Wayan

I'm riding in a Landrover along a ridge-top road with spectacular views of desert to the east and woods to the west. We're in Guinea-Bissau, in West Africa, though, strangely, most of the people we pass are brown or white, not black. The short white woman driving, with straight long brown hair and mild pear-shaped face, is a famous revolutionary. She's decided to turn herself in: thinks it's time to switch from guerilla to political struggle, and now her fame and popularity are at a peak; they won't dare just kill her. She hopes.

I don't hope. I fear. The cops here have a horrible reputation.

The road drops through dense woods to this little country's main highway in the valley. Looks like a rift zone, though this is West Africa not East.

A gray convoy snakes along the valley--now I'm really worried. I heard about this. They're transporting the rebel leader, recently captured. If we burst onto the road and claim we're surrendering, they'll suspect it's a plot to rescue him. I want to wait, surrender somewhere less tense and more public. But she's determined to get it over with. We hit the highway just ahead of the convoy, and drive into town.

We go to a hall where a third revolutionary is scheduled to speak. No one expects the speech to really happen--he'll be arrested before he even gets here. Another publicity stunt--to get the world to see how oppressive the government is. But it doesn't happen that way. He makes it to the hall, a nervous thin man with enormous sideburns grown in the pattern of a six-inch X on each cheek. Instantly recognizable. A miracle he could sneak across town like this! It's clear just seeing him that he doesn't want to be caught and dreads the cops--he's just not meant to be a revolutionary martyr. His fear infects me and I start pulling blue cassettes out of my pockets--copies of some revolutionary lectures or songs? If they find so many on me, they'll think I'm a distributor, maybe even the producer. And I'm not--can't tell them who is, even. I'm sure I'll be tortured or disappeared. Dump them all over the floor under me. Find a cigarette lighter in my pocket too, dump that. How'd I end up with that? I don't even smoke! But they'll see it as a guerilla tool too--arson, etc. Feel like fate is setting me up.

Rather than lecture till he's arrested and be a good martyr, the fugitive announces "I want to flee the country." In the audience is a barber, and Mr X submits to a hasty, rusty shave. The famous sideburns are already gone from the right--from that side he looks like a different man. Eerie just how split his face is, seen full-on. Now the other comes off. So anonymous now! His balding hairline is the only thing that looks the same. I suggest a small toupee--if even I can recognize him vaguely by his hairline, surely others will. But even like this, he no longer stands out at a distance.

I still expect the rest of us to be arrested even if he goes underground and gets out of the country. Vividly imagine it--they're well-documented as looking for a prisoner's weak spot and tormenting him with it, in violation of all law. Maybe I could use that lighter and some talk about smoking to get them to focus on depriving me of cigarettes! I'm just worried they'll deprive me of food. They've been known to--starve a man and claim it's a hunger strike. If they do, I'm so thin I won't last long.

At last, I'm captured. At first I'm confined alone, but a few days later they half-decide I'm just a tourist, and let me out among their leaders like a sort of pet. Not free at all--I can't go home and must sleep in a cell, but it gives me opportunities. I think hard about what I'm planning. I really was just a tourist, an observer of their war, but now I'm so enraged at their arrogance I want to overthrow them even at risk to me.

And they are shaky. The government is led right now by a half-crazy child prophet who commands two big warrior women, twins who never speak--with their notorious ferocity, they don't need to. Oh, there's a prime minister and generals galore, but they're just the civil face of what's become a cult dictatorship. And not a popular one. At first the child prophet had a following, but now there's next to no popular support. Yet the prophet is so divinely confident s/he can't imagine any of us'd oppose the cult, no matter how we've been abused.

And one day I snap. In the park or on the lawn outside the presidential palace, I just pick up the prophet by the hair and swing that squirming brat around my head harder and harder and let go at the right moment so the Prophet flies across the green and slams into the Prime Minister. He goes over like a bowling pin.

I'm mad I missed the warrior twins, but I couldn't time it perfectly. At least that's two of the main four down. I hope I broke their necks. With any luck the population will rise--resentment's so high. Without the Prophet, even the warrior twins can't hold out long. They're muscle types anyway--they can intimidate, they can fight, but no way can they LEAD. I've doomed the regime. Of course the twins may kill me before the junta falls. But I've done what I could.

You're probably wondering why no one went after me for grabbing the prophet by the head. Well, this was routine. The Prohet LIKED to be swung around by the hair! I did it every day.

Just not hard enough to bring down a government.


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