We have been inundat-
ed with several and
and meaning of the
word “revolution” in the last one
week, following the protest planned
by Revolution Now, a group led by
Omoyele Sowore, Sahara Reporters
publisher and presidential candi-
date of the African Action Congress
Party in the last election. Sowore was
arrested last Saturday.
Legal minds have provided their
own analysis of the meanings. Public
Affairs and security experts have giv-
en their own versions. These motley
of definitions and explanations are
being proffered by these groups to
help the average person understand
what the group is calling for and
whether it is actionable as a crime or
reasonable as the security agencies
seem to infer.
Unfortunately, the proponent, Sow-
ore himself is not available to tell us
the meaning or extent of his call for a
So, what is a revolution?
Let us see what the different English
dictionaries say before we go jumping
into the fray with our own analysis
The Longman Dictionary of Con-
temporary English says revolution
as a countable noun is ‘a complete
change in ways of thinking, methods
of working etc’. For instance,
‘In the last ten years there has been
a revolution in education’ or ‘the big-
gest social revolution we have had in
this country’ or ‘the sexual revolution
of the 1960s’.
As an uncountable or even counta-
ble noun, it can refer to ‘a time when
people change a ruler or political
system by using force or violence’, like
‘the French Revolution of 1789 , ‘the
role of women has changed since the
revolution’ or ‘the country seems to
be heading towards revolution’.
Still as a countable or uncountable
noun, Longman says revolution is a
circular movement around some-
thing, e.g. the planets’ revolution
around the Sun.
As a full countable noun, revolution
is also one complete circular spinning
movement, made by something such
as a wheel attached to a central point.
To revolve at a speed of 100 revolu-
tions per minute.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary
defines revolution as:
- The action by a celestial body of
going round in an orbit or elliptical
course. Also, an apparent movement
of such a body round the earth.
- The time taken by a celestial body
to make a complete round in its orbit.
- The rotation of a celestial body on
- Completion of a course (as of
years). Also : the period made by
the regular succession of a measure
of time or by a succession of similar
events or a progressive motion of
a body around an axis so that any
line of the body parallel to the axis
returns to its initial position while
remaining parallel to the axis in tran-
sit and usually at a constant distance
- A sudden, radical, or complete
change, i.e. like a fundamental change
in political organization, especially
the overthrow or renunciation of one
government or ruler and the substitu-
tion of another by the governed. This
also include an activity or movement
designed to effect fundamental
changes in the socio-economic
- A fundamental change in the
way of thinking about or visualizing
something: a change of paradigm.
This can also refer to a changeover in
use or preference especially in tech-
nology, like the computer revolution
or the foreign car revolution.
Collins Dictionary has its own
definitions – a successful attempt by
a large group of people to change the
political system of their country by
force or a revolution in a particular
area of human activity as a change in
It lists the following:
- The overthrow or repudiation of
a regime or political system by the
- In Marxist theory, it is the
violent transition from one system of
production in a society to the next, as
from feudalism to capitalism.
- A far-reaching and drastic
change, especially in ideas and
- Movement in or as if in a circle
resulting in one complete turn in
such a circle.
- The orbital motion of one body,
such as a planet or satellite around
another – one complete turn in such
So, there you are – revolution with
different faces and meanings. Which
One thing is sure: our learned
friends will continue to give us legal
interpretations of all these definitions
and smile to the bank as usual if the
issues end up in court.