Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Who is the real Che Guevara?

People often ask why this blog is called Citizen Wombat and indeed why a picture of a wombat's face has replaced that of a famous revolutionary in possibly one of the most iconic images of the 20th century...

Many moons ago I produced a twenty minute performance on Ernesto 'Che' Guevara... it was a one man show talking not about the man himself but indeed this image. The image itself was taken by a Cuban man called Alberto Korda who for the record never recieved a single penny in rights, not cause he was robbed, but because he didn't want to - he wanted the world to have a free image of a hero and little did he know what it would become...

So who was Mr Guevara - well the facts are these... he was a cigar smoking, asthmatic Argentine physician. He was an intellectual and scholar as well as a medical student and humanitarian... I have no doubt he was an asshole at times and equally a top bloke.. so with all this knowledge at our fingertips why did someone come and ask me why was I talking about the lead singer of Rage Against the Machine? Is this what our society has come to? That no-one knows who he was? He is a man now more popuraly refered to as 'Che' than his real name (because people don't know it)! Che in itself is slang in the south of Brasil and Argentina for 'friend' and, unlike someone once pointed out that he was called Che because he was a friend to the whole world, he was called this because he used it a lot in every sentence... and people were merely making fun of him. People have forgotten what he truly stood for and now I see this image egreciously replaced with everything from the monkey from "Planet of the Apes" to Ricky Gervais. Ernesto and Korda would turn in their graves.

When Guevara was executed by CIA-assisted forces in Bolivia America feared they had created a martyr... that this mans ideologies would spring up all over America and indeed the world... The image began to circulate the globe and quickly became associated not with Revolution, with Freedom or with Communism - but rather with teenage angst! This mans face has been on posters and t-shirts, wallets and badges of kids and teenagers who have not the slightest fucking idea who he is... I have several times to owners of these posters what they know about the man... and the bad answers have far outwayed the good... whoever killed him in 1968 merely took his body, but the slurge of tacky merchandise that followed has attempted to murder his beliefs and every single thing he stood for...

To every reader that has got this far in this post I welcome your comments. If you already know much of his politics or indeed are curious to learn more (I urge you to buy a book or use wikepedia for starters (it's free)) then I embrace you. When Hitler died the world rejoiced - not only cause a monster had fallen but because when he died people became interested not in his ideologies, but in who he was - in fact one of the best selling books on the 1950's was a Hitler inspired vegetarian cook book with all his favourite recipes... Thank God or Stephen Hawkings for this.... but we did the same to Che... a man who deserved to be heard.
So why a wombat? Apparantly in Austrailia they call a man who sleeps with a lot of women a wombat... simply because in the dictionary it says Wombat - eats roots and leaves. (roots in Australia being adapted as a verb for having sex). This is not my reason. It's simply because I find wombats funny. I sometimes ask if you were in Top Gun what would your call-sign be? I always say Wombat. I replaced the face to commomorate not the loss of the man, but of the loss of everything he was. When Mr Guevara died we changed him from a hope for freedom and expression into a trendy poster. May his beliefs and hopes rest in peace and one day may peace and love embrace world... and may the people who have murdered these ideals one day realise the crime they have commited and repent for their sins by reading and spreading ideals for a better world. Do not fight wars... fight oppression... Kill in-equality, not your brothers and sisters and please try and remember the people who stood up and fought for others freedoms.

I thank you all for reading.

Roy Woodhouse - Twitter

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