Echoes of Thomas Sankara: The Upright Men Stand Up


Burkina Faso

Violent protests against the oppressive dictator Blaise Compaore have broken out in Burkina Faso, echoing the popular revolution that brought the revolutionary Captain Thomas Sankara to power in 1983.

31 years ago, the current Burkina Faso president, Blaise Compaore, played a crucial role in bringing Thomas Sankara to power. He was at the head of the army that overthrew the government then.

Four years later, Compaore overthrew Sankara. But 27 years since then, Sankara’s spirit is rising again to haunt the French comprador.

Compaore put an end to Sankara’s dream to end corruption, oppression and French domination.

Today, the people are standing up in the spirit of Sankara and saying enough is enough. They are tired of the corruption. They are tired of the oppression. They are tired of the domination. The spirit of 1983 is with us again!

The Burkinabe, the Upright Men, cannot be held down forever. The Burkinabe stand incorruptible. The end of an era is near.

Thomas Sankara and Blaise Compaore

The political messiah and Judas Iscariot: Captain Thomas Sankara and Blaise Compaore in happier days.

Today, Compaore finds himself on the receiving end of the wrath of the people. He finds himself with his back against the wall. He finds himself in the middle of an inferno licking the symbols of his crumbling dream.

He is like a snake that has found itself by mistake in a hut in the village compound with angry villagers trying to crush its head with rocks. If it finds a crevice to hide, the people flush it out with fire. They will not let it go so that it can return and attack their young again.

There are reports of dozens of soldiers joining the protests, echoing the role of the army in Burkina Faso that toppled the oppressive regime in Ouagadougou.

Former defence minister, Gen Kouame Lougue is said to be among the protesters. He is the man the people want to lead them to the promised land of freedom. It feels like 1983 all over again.

Protestors are demanding the general’s installation as president. He is the modern Moses leading the children of Israel from Egypt. He is the one chosen to lead them from political, socio-economical and cultural subjugation.

Parliament has allegedly been ransacked and set ablaze. It is a bold statement by the people.

Though Compaore retaliated by declaring a state of emergency, we all know that when the people have turned against you, you are like a straw man waiting to be washed away by the raging torrent of the Burkinabe river.

Burkina Faso protests

People power: protestors occupy seats in the National Assembly after ransacking it. They give new meaning to the term “Occupy” in the protest langue.

It feels like Compaore is trying to flex his muscles an intimidate the people but the end is firmly in sight. He is in trouble as the protests have been going on for the last few days and intensifying with time.

They don’t show any signs of abating even though soldiers and police are firing live rounds into the crowd to try and stem the current of Burkinabe anger.

As a Sankarist, I have watched with intense interest because we have waited for 27 years for Compaore to get his comeuppance. I have signed numerous petitions to get the widow and family of Thomas Sankara justice.

Thomas Sankara

It is the least some of us can do for Thomas Sankara who inspired us and illustrated what an African leader can, could, must and should be. A beacon for freedom and justice.

Compaore’s imposition of a state of emergency to end violent protests against his 27 year rule shows the impunity he has for the Burkinabe. He is a traitor of the genuine aspirations and dreams of the people. He killed their leader Sankara. But he didn’t kill his spirit or his ideas. Today, Sankara is with us.

Compaore has already served four terms and wants to extend his rule, extending the misery of the Burkinabe for the benefit of his neo-colonial string pullers.

Faced with a hostile population refusing to allow the government to vote and extent this comprador’s shelf life, President Blaise Compaore has been forced to dissolve government and respect the will of the Burkinabe.

Mass protests against his rule are continuing in Ouagadougou, the capital. The angry Burkinabe have burnt government buildings and set parliament alight, forcing the government to abandon the vote to provide this neo-colonialist comprador the opportunity to seek re-election in 2015.

The people occupied the seats in the National Assembly, a sign of things to come. The revolutionary Burkinabe women are in the frontline marching alongside their men fighting for freedom and justice. They embody the spirit of Sankara. It’s like he never died.

The undercurrents sweeping across the African continent may gain force and bring in untold surprises. The death of the late President Sata sparked a new era for Zambia. Currently, we are witnessing attempts in Zimbabwe to Occupy African Unity Square, in the capital Harare, a call for President Robert Mugabe to step down after 34 years in power.

Who knows what tomorrow brings.

We are watching. The world is watching. Sankara is watching.

Compaore’s days are numbered. Just a few months ago he survived an assassination attempt and I have the feeling that his days are numbered. He cannot stop an idea in the same manner he betrayed his friend and comrade and ordered his death.

Thomas Sankara and Blaise Compaore

Thomas Sankara and the man who was to betray him and kill him in a plot that echoes a Shakespearean tragedy.

October is the month Thomas Sankara was assassinated by a group of soldiers who burst into a meeting and killed him. It seems like his ghost is not asleep after all and his spirit lives on in the Burkinabe and many more.

Thomas Sankara lives on in everyone of us all who stand up for equal rights and cherish freedom. Support the cause of the Burkinabe.

It feels like 1983 again! Viva Revolution!

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Research


thegatvolblogger:

This piece eloquently captures the beauty about writing about what you don’t know but using research to compensate for what you don’t know.

Original version is at http://litworldinterviews.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/research/comment-page-1/#comment-469. Check it out.

Originally posted on Lit World Interviews:

Write about what you know is pretty good advice. It is possible to write about what you don’t know, but whenever you do you’re going to have to make sure that your research is spot on. The wonderful thing about Google is that you have a world of information at your fingertips. The not so wonderful thing is that not all of that information is accurate. So when I’m looking for specific facts I always find at least a couple of different sources to be sure that I’m not using flawed or bogus articles.

Most of us have felt the gamut of emotions to one degree or another, so those are fairly easy to convey. I believe though, that there are some extreme emotions that would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible for most – not all – writers to communicate unless they’ve lived them. So all the research in…

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Love is the ultimate revolutionary


African Revolutionaries

Love is the ultimate revolutionary

Love is the ultimate revolutionary

Fighting and defeating

Those external forces trying to colonise

Your hinterland and exploit

Your heart and mind.


Love is the ultimate revolutionary,

That tall, dark, handsome stranger

Camouflaged like an enemy

Who makes the pit of your stomach

Flutter and feel

Like it has been hollowed out;

And makes your knees tremble,

Takes your breath and senses away

With half a glance.


Love is the ultimate revolutionary

Charming and disarming,

Knocking out your defences

And last line of resistance

Without firing a shot;

A revolutionary setting you free

Without a word or fight

Yet turning your entire world

Upside down

Giving you a new found sense of self,

Freedom and Love.

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Love Prescription


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Love can’t be prescribed

Like a doctor prescribes medication.

Take two three times a day

After meals and blah blah blah…



It has no algorithms.

It can’t be programmed.

If reason is the thesis,

Love is the antithesis.

It pulls tongues at science

And holds the middle finger to scientists.

You can’t slice it open

With a scalpel and pinpoint

Its vital and reproductive organs.



It can’t be legislated

Like those draconian

Immorality Acts

In Apartheid South Africa.

Imprison it

And it will

BREAK OUT STRONGER

Than it was ever before,

Bending and breaking bars.



It is what it is.

A wild seed that germinates where it wills

And takes root where it is unexpected

Until one day you see

It blossoming,

Petals unfolding and full of colour.

And you wonder by what alchemy

It grew in such an unusual place.



Love is its own prescription.

The chemical reaction

Taking over your head and heart;

Leaving you giddy and high.

It’s the elixir

Pulsing through the highways

And alternative routes of your body,

Killing the pathogens and viruses

Poisoning your heart and soul.

It restores your sense of balance

And healthy outlook on life.



It is the prescription

Pharmaceuticals can’t monopolise

And make a killing,

Transforming us into

Over the counter addicts.

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NoViolet Bulawayo wins 2014 Zora Neale Hurston/ Richard Wright Legacy Award


 NoViolet Bulawayo inner magazine page

In my last post, 13 Lessons I Learned From Blogging, a few hours ago I described NoViolet Bulawayo as “one of the hottest literary talents to come out of Zimbabwe.” It might have sounded hyperbolic, but she reinforced my observations by clinching the 2014 Zora Neale Hurston/ Richard Wright Legacy Award for her awesome fictional debut, We Need New Names

She received the prestigous 2014 Hurston/ Wright Legacy Award for fiction on Friday at the Carnegie Library in Northwest Washington.

This award is a fitting reward for a young literary star on the rise. Her debut novel has taken the world by storm and caused such a sensation, I can only imagine what her future work will do.

Inner pages on an article on NoViolet Bulawayo

An article, on NoViolet Bulawayo talking about her craft, I stumbled on in the New Books magazine in my local library and I took the pictures. Little did I know I would be using them in this article.

The award is a literary prize awarded by the National Community of  Black Writers. It is the first of its kind to be awarded to black American writers. Richard Wright (Black Boy and Native Son) and Zora Neale Hurston, the awards namesakes, are two of the most influential black American authors.

I first heard of NoViolet Bulawayo when I started writing for the South African Newspaper in London.

In fact, her short story, Hitting Budapest (the first chapter), an extract from her debut, was nominated for the Caine Prize in African Writing in 2011.

My very first assignment was to interview her with regards to that nomination. We were both just beginning our respective journeys and I was humbled and inspired by her humble and focussed approach.

I have watched her rise. She is a phenomenal woman and sister. She is unpretentious. She has an aura and cool, calm collected-ness and confidence that comes with people who are blessed with talent, humility and drive.

She is not a diva. Considering her accomplishments, you could forgive her. But she has remained grounded and approachable and in touch with her humble roots which she has used as a launching pad to dizzing heights. Only she knows where she is in orbit with the Stars.

She went on to win the coveted Caine Prize in African writing that year and has soared to greater heights since then, racking up a host of nominations and awards, including the Man Booker Prize 2013 the Guardian First Book Award, the Pen Hemingway Award, LA Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award, the Etisalat Prize for Literature and ultimately the 2014 Zora Neale Hurston/ Richard Wright Legacy Award.

She has been recognised by various prestigious publications and organisations. The list is too long to mention individually.

NoViolet Bulawayo FC

NoViolet Bulawayo, one of Zimbabwe’s best intellectual exports, a rising star on the literature scene. I stumbled upon this magazine in my local library.

NoViolet Bulawayo has come a long way since I first interviewed her in 2011, reviewed her debut, wrote an essay about her for my publishing module and chatted to her numerous times. She is a true inspiration for our generation.

Over the years, I have chatted to her on a range of subjects and she is an exceptional person, very grounded, polite and giving.

During those conversations she was always encouraging and pushing me to publish my book and sharing advice. I was flattered she recognised my talent without ever getting to read my work. She is such a giving person.

I got to know her “almost” as a friend. And I am so happy for her success in the way I’d be proud of my own sister or kinswoman who had achieved some phenomenal success.

Her coup is spectacular considering the strength of the other nominees and finalists in the fiction category. Some of them are legends by right and some are accomplished writers with several novels to their names. They are:

  • Every Boy Should Have A Man by Preston L. Allen (Akashic);
  • The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson (Bloomsbury);
  • See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid (Farrar, Straus & Giroux);
  • The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (Penguin);
  • The Gospel According to Cane by Courttia Newland (Akashic).

Previous winners include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Uwem Akpan, Aminatta Forna, Kwame Dawes and Junot Diaz. NoViolet Bulawayo is in distinguished literary company and all the names above put her win into context.

I can imagine women ululating and dancing within Zimbabwe and the Diaspora at the literary success of one of her most distinguished daughters of the soil. I say makorokoto, amhlope, congratulations sister. You gone and done us proud.

Front Cover of We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

The award winning debut, We Need New Names, by Zimbabwean Literary sensation NoViolet Bulawayo.

You can read, Hitting Budapest, an extract from NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut novel We Need New Names here. I recommend you get your copy from Amazon, the library or any of your local booksellers. It is a great read. Trust me on this one. You won’t regret it.

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Corrupt Church ⛪ and Capitalist Charlatans


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The church ⛪ today has lost its moral compass. The church ⛪ today has lost its moral and spiritual capital. The church ⛪ today is morally and spiritually decrepit.

It has devalued itself through its complicity with the oppressor. There was a time when the  church ⛪ supported the liberation movements. There was a time when the church ⛪ marched with the oppressed in protests against injustice.

There was a time when the church ⛪ braved the picket lines with the oppressed. Today, it has sold them out for thirty pieces of silver.

Today, the church ⛪ is Judas Iscariot. It betrays its lambs with a kiss. It conspires with the scribes and Pharisees and tax collectors and all that is vile and rank in society.

It leads its flock down the valley of the shadow of death and abandons them to be devoured and bludgeoned and persecuted and crucified by the scribes’ and Pharisees.

At least Judas Iscariot had the sense to hang himself when he realised the gravity of his betrayal. Not so with the church ⛪.

It is subsumed by its desire for a high position on the social and economic ladder. It has become a worshipper of material things. It has devalued itself because it has become a lover of the root of all evil.

It has lost its social and spiritual value in society. It has turned the father’s house 🏠 into a market place run 🏃 by capitalist traders who appeal to your 🏦 purses and wallets and pockets and bank accounts and 📚 and talk no longer about spiritual salvation.

They are wealth gluttons. Their insatiable hunger for economical and material wealth accumulation is behind their zeal to build bigger churches and build larger congregations and bank even larger collections.

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Their eyes are on the bottom line. They are intoxicated by their new found fame and fortune. They are like snakes that dazzle their prey by putting on a show of brevity before they gobble them up unwittingly and mercilessly.

They are spiritual businessmen. They sell everything spiritual. They have a monopoly of the spiritual market and products.

They specialise in everything spiritual: spiritual airtime, spiritual soap, spiritual body oils, spiritual babies, spiritual petrol that tastes like juice to give you greater drive and vava voom in life, spiritual healing, spiritual bricks and if you buy one they multiply and soon you will have enough to build a mansion.

http://youtu.be/OpXbLA_tFHY

They are also spiritual personal and professional counsellors. They can give you a career if you had none or get you a relationship, a wife, a husband if you are in the relationship wilderness.

These guys are spiritual general dealers, not a specialist boutique, and they have a spiritual solution for any and every ailment that their congregation suffers. They trade in the spiritual cure all.

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These are new age pimps who have stopped trading in the flesh but now trade in the spirit. These pimps dress 👗 in designer gear and drive designer chariots and preach to be rich is to be blessed and to be poor is a sin.

Seyi Rhodes (Film maker) and Dr Sign Fireman

Filmmaker Seyi Rhodes (left) and Dr Sign Fireman with the pastor’s bright yellow Hummer v2.0

To be poor is a sin they preach, and only through accumulating riches will you be saved through tithing a tenth of your wages to their bloated and obese bank accounts in foreign banks.

These pimps are oozing gold, and pockets dripping change 💵, they no longer preach it is easier for a camel to go through the eye 👀 of a needle than it is for a rich man 👨 to enter the Kingdom of God.

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One of the top ten riches pastors in the world – David Oyedepo is his private plane and his acolyte.

These capitalist charlatans pay no tax. Neither are they accountable to anyone. The government ignores these spiritual frauds, these capitalist charlatans, in return for funding their election campaigns and endorsing the oppressor.

These capitalist charlatans’ perform miracles and claim to have God’s direct line where he tells them all kind of state secrets.

Yes, because God is their buddy, he tells them to warn the people not to demonstrate against poverty, corruption, looting of the country’s rich repository of mineral resources, unemployment, misgovernance because the end will not be a pretty sight.

People will die. State institutions will crush dissenters. The people must obey the word of God and not disobey those he has ordained to rule or so say the capitalist charlatans.

They tell the people not to be led by Satan, i.e. Activists’ or the opposition or civic society organisations.

The church ⛪ in complicity with an unjust government is an unholy Union. People are not blind they have 👀 to see for themselves. They have ears 👂👂 to hear. They have minds💀 to think. And they see through this unholy charade. They see through this pseudo spiritual prank.

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Consequently, many young black men continue to drop out of the church ⛪ to seek political salvation elsewhere and the envisioned self through other means. The church ⛪ is a fraud and everything about it smells rank and foul.

For too long the church ⛪ has been playing with the guilty conscience of the oppressed and blaming them for petty evils such as crimes of need not greed committed by politicians and those higher up the political and social hierarchy.

The church ⛪ blames the poor for petty evils yet it ignores the greater evils in society such as oppression, corruption, lack of service delivery, malnutrition, hunger, unemployment, lack of medical services, etc.

Surely, God must have something to say about that. He can’t be a blind God. And if he is an all seeing God, Him and the church ⛪ have to start saying something about the terrible conditions the masses find themselves in.

His silence and complicity portray him as an unjust and unreasonable God who expects people to worship him yet he ignores their plight in contradiction of his teachings in The Bible – seek and you shall find. Ask and it shall be given. Knock and it shall be opened.

Until he answers the prayers of the oppressed and blesses their struggle he has lost the PR war to win the hearts and mind of the masses.

If both the oppressed and oppressor are praying to the same God and he continually favours the oppressor, he has no one to blame when people walk out on him. He shows Himself as an unreasonable and unjust God who is just as oppressive and exploitative of the poor as our earthly oppressors.

Our salvation lies not in the church ⛪. The church is a tool to keep us docile and mentally, physically and spiritually subjugated.  Brothers and sisters come out of that beast and seek salvation elsewhere.

We have been praying for hundreds of years without God responding to our cries. It leads me to believe he does not exist. And I know he is not in the habit of coming down to earth to solve our problems and make everything alright.

We have to fight 👊 for our rights here on earth and not wait to go to paradise after death. Some of us want our share of our slice 🍊 of the economic cake 🍰 while we are still alive.

#Aluta Continua! #Viva Revolution ✊✊✊

http://youtu.be/ZLUE45C6vOo

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Inspired: Writer Toni Morrison proves we have time to follow our passions


Inspired: Writer Toni Morrison proves we have time to follow our passions.

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13 Lessons I Learned From Blogging


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I started blogging late in life and like Cato [Censorius]  the Censor I am learning in my old age. I have picked up a few things, 13 to be precise, and I thought it would be a good idea to share my experience with you. The order below is random.

1] Write What You Know: It is the golden rule every student of creative writing is taught from day one. It applies to blogging as well. Writing what you know makes it easier to write about that subject.

It will flow better. Your authority and and knowledge will shine. Your passion will tell and your readers will feel it. You will succeed at it because you are doing something that you love and you are passionate about.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about what you don’t know. If you do, do your research before you write. Bloggers like journalists can do their research or interview experts and can become instant authorities on subjects they know little of prior to taking it on.

Challenge yourself!

2] Content Rules: Never publish sub-standard content. It must be well written, researched, structured, entertaining or engaging. Good content keeps readers coming back for more. Good content makes the audience share. Good content makes readers appreciate the effort you put in.

It makes them trust you. An article riddled with poor spelling or grammar looks bad. It is amateurish and if you can’t get the small details right, people won’t trust you with the bigger details such as facts or trust your opinion.

3] Be You: Alternatively, keep it real. Don’t try to be what you are not. Readers are intelligent and they can smell a fake. If you are true to yourself, your writing will come pouring out of you. Your voice will speak for itself.

I have heard of writers worrying or struggling to find their voice. They struggle because they are trying to be what they are not. Write as you speak and your personality will shine. Your voice will sound distinct and authentic.

4] Trust Yourself: I started blogging late because I wasn’t confident anyone would read what I wrote. My creative writing teacher encouraged me to blog but I couldn’t do it.

I was very conscious of my self and didn’ want people psychoanalysing me. I talked about these concerns in my very first post Yeah, I think a lot about shit.

Throwing myself into blogging excorsised my demons. I didn’t exactly know what I was going to write about but I shouldn’t have worried. The ideas and inspiration found me.

Other opportunities came from people who read my blog. Some articles are inspired. You wake up and they are just on your mind and they basically write themselves.

So, never doubt your talent or yourself. Trust yourself. Be confident. Once you get going, things happen as if they were ordained to, and the pieces come together like a jigsaw puzzle when you need them.

It reminds me of that quote often attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans. That the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

5] Know Your audience: When I write fiction, I find it hard to picture my readers. I struggle in this respect.

However, the opposite is true when I write nonfiction for newspapers or online publications. I know who the reader is which makes it easier.

Overtime, I have evolved a sense of who my readers are on my blog. I can see their gravatars or pictures. I read their comments. and feedback. I communicate with them. This is  helpful. Slowly but surely, I am getting to know their tastes.

In addition, I also know that there are different audiences for different articles. There are posts that mainly appeal to other bloggers, poets or lovers of writing or books because they deal with writing. These are totally different to what other readers like who love political cum historical articles.

Some leave niche subjects. No two readers are the same.

You need to understand what your audience loves to read. The stats provided by the blog host will help you in that respect as illustrated below and show you what readers want.

Find topics that appeal to them and give them what they want. Don’t confine them to your own interests. Keep your eye on the stats!

Blog tags and categories

Breakdown of views per post or tags.

6] Love of Research and Writing: Blogging has reaffirmed that I love writing and researching. It gives me the freedom to broaden my horizons and an opportunity to indulge in what I love most.

It is rewarding. It is fun.

As much as I write about what I know, I back it up with research to cover any doubts and to doublecheck facts. I guess its a habit that comes from my background writing for newspapers and other online mediums.

My blogging has rejuvenated my fiction work and I am back to finishing my historical fiction novel. The two mutually feed off each other.

You can spring surprises on your readers and introduce them to something they might not know such as introducing new or rising stars on the arts scene as illustrated on the front cover of this magazine I stumbled on in my local library introducing, NoViolet Bulawayo, one of the hottest literary talents to come out of Zimbabwe.

NoViolet Bulawayo FC

NoViolet Bulawayo, one of Zimbabwe’s best intellectual exports, a rising star on the literature scene. I stumbled upon this magazine in my local library.

7] Continous Learning and Self Improvement: The internet is never stationary. It is always evolving. Blogging is always evolving too and it provides the opportunity for continous learning and self improvement.

The more you write and research, the wider and rounded your learning experience becomes. Research often opens up avenues and doors that you could never have imagined.

Apart from discovering interesting facts, this is a mine-full of inspiration and ideas to blog about or write a full fiction or nonfiction account.

I am learning more about HTML and WordPress and the functions and features I can add to my blogs to make them more interactive. There are still a host of features I am learning about and haven’t got round to utilising them yet.

Maybe if you are a tech whiz, give me a shout out. Let me know how you think I can improve my blog.

Working with WordPress has also improved my knowledge of content management systems and all this experience is and will come in handy in other areas of my personal or professional career.

8] Do What Works For You: Writing regular articles is not easy. Well, let me speak for myself. I can go through anything between 6 – 20 drafts or revisions before I am happy to post.

I am not one of those prolific people who writes a blog a day or several a week or month. I write when I feel I like it. Right now, I am on a roll and blogging regularly.

However, there was a time when I was away for almost half a year or more and I missed blogging because of other commitments. I believe you shouldn’t just post anything because you feel pressured to.

Rather do it, when it is irrestibale and you have a burning urge to write and post. I can write a post in a day but it takes me hours especially if there are plenty of hyperlinks to add.

At times it can take me days because I go through numerous drafts or write in short bursts. That is what works for me. Everybody is different.

Writing and thinking are hard work; so, I understand people who can’t do it regularly. Consistency even if it is irregular consistency is good too.

I have massive respect for bloggers who blog every day or week. It takes great discipline and focus. Massive respect  prolific bloggers!

Blogging is not a competition but a medium for self exppression. Therefore, never feel the urge to compete with anyone. Do what works for you. Simples!

9] Content Creation and Intellectual Property: Blogging in a nutshell is content creation and intellectual property. There is an industry dedicated to content creation.

I do this as an aside. But I don’t own the intellectual property or copyright of the stuff I create because the person who commissions and pays for me to write owns it.

However, when you are blogging, you hold the copyright [intellectual property]. The great thing about it is that you write about things that you are passionate about and love.

I have written plenty of content for clients and some of it made me miserable. I felt like I was prostituting my talent. It restricted my style and voice. But here, I write what I like, how I want to without worrying about what the client will say.

There is so much freedom when you blog and create your own content and intellectual property. You don’t have to sound like a journalist and you can personalise your articles as much as you like. If your readers are happy then that is good for you.

10] Distribution: Distributing or getting people to know about your blog is a nightmare if you are not good at marketing or asking for help.

Authors who self publish understand early on in their careers that they will have to do a lot of marketing, publicity, advertising and distrubution of their books to sell anything.

The same applies to blogging. If you are serious, you can’t ignore the power of social media. With a social media presence, you can raise the profile of your blog, attract visitors and generate a buzz about your posts and encourage discussions.

The brilliant aspect of social media is that you can track down people who are interested in what you write about and share dierctly with them or online forums dedicated to your subject[s].

If you are social media savvy and have already built a community, your audience will do a lot of promoting for you by sharing, recommending, retweeting, and liking your content. Social media is a valuable asset in the distribution link.

Furthermore, it is free. I currently use Facebook and Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. I love using Facebook because it is popular and easier to distribute material.

Twitter follows next. I have had an account for a while but recently started using it more regularly to grow my presence on that platform. I am still trying to get to grips with it but I can see its potential.

I am not brilliant with Tumblr and Pinterest but I still use them. Hopefully, I will learn more and use them effectively.

LinkedIn is brilliant if you are doing anything that is business related. There are plenty of other platforms I haven’t touched on but there is no limit to the means available to you.

11] Learn From Other Bloggers: Read other blogs and learn from them. Be inspired by them. Ask questions and they will be happy to help you.

Note what they do right whether that is in the structuring or formatting of their blogs. You can learn a lot from other bloggers who have been doing this for ages.

12] Never Forget Context: Never assume your readers know everything you are talking about. Contextualise what you are saying and give them a point or points of reference.

I have noted that my readers are spread all over the world. Therefore, I find that as I write I constantly have to think of the context and frame it within the article. There are other times where I can’t always provide all the information I can.

Thegatvolblogger reader distribution map

An illustration of the distribution of people who view thegatvolblogger.

If there are things that you can’t explain within the article, do the hard work for the readers, and provide them with hyperlinks to a reliable source[s] that provide additional information.

13] Reward or Surprise the Reader: Provide readers with content thoughtfully put together that tells them something new or teaches them something that they didn’t already know.

I tend to provide videos/ films or doccies that they can watch online or links to materials they can access online that adds to what they are engaging with on my blog.

On average, I find a viewer can spend an hour engaging with some of my posts and a reader should feel that is an hour well spent.

These are some of the things that I have learnt as a blogger. I am still learning and hope to learn more and improve the quality of my content.

Please feel free to share your experiences, feedback or any advice relating to the issues I touched above. I hope you enjoyed this article. One love!

 

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Remembering Samora Moisés Machel: Death of a Revolutionary


Samora Machel and his son

On the 19th of October 1986, at twenty-one minutes past nine, 28 years ago, a Russian built Tupolev 134, flying to Maputo from a summit of African leaders in Zambia crashed into Lebombo mountains near Mbuzini in South Africa’s Transvaal province, now known as Mpumalanga, killing the first Mozambican President Samora Moisés Machel.

His plane crashed in mysterious circumstances killing President Samora Machel and thirty-three members of his FRELIMO party and the Russian crew.

Only nine of the people onboard that plane survived.

The site where the plane crashed was at the confluence of Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland’s borders.

Samora Machel‘s death was felt far beyond the borders of Mozambique.

It was about a month before my tenth birthday when I saw the news. It was a horrible moment watching the mangled wreckage and hearing my sister’s cries echoing through the house.

Samora Machel

Samora Machel flanked by Sam Nujoma (President of Namibia) on his right, and President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia to his immediate left and Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Machel would never make it back from this ill-fated meeting alive. It was one of the last times he was seen alive in public.

I walked out onto the streets of Harare, I was in Zimbabwe at the time, to get away from the horror of it but everywhere I turned, people were weeping and lamenting and throwing themselves onto the ground as if they had lost their favourite uncle or kinsmen.

That’s how I felt about him. I had grown up seeing his huge smile lighting up our television screens. He always appeared to be overwhelmed by the love and attention lavished upon him.

He always appeared to be uncomfortable in the glare of the spotlights and television cameras. As I was walking on the streets, I knew then as as I know now that we had lost something special, like a limb lost, that you’d always feel it’s presence yet it wasn’t actually there. And it was irreplaceable.

That is Samora Machel. He was and is irreplaceable. His death robbed us of a true revolutionary and leader. A leader who led from the frontline. A leader who led by example. A leader who remained humble until the end despite his heroic deeds, revolutionary credentials and his unquestionable integrity.

Samora Machel

Samora Machel flashing his familiar smile while meeting and greeting the people.

The respect and adoration he elicited from Zimbabweans and others made you forget that he was actually the leader of another country, the first president of Mozambique, and the revolutionary leader of FRELIMO.

It was impossible to believe that the man who brandished that disarming smile was a ferocious soldier on the battlefield respected and feared by foes. And the totalitarian and illegitimate Apartheid and Rhodesian regimes.

His humility lent him the appearance of a gentle and a meek man. He had the instant likeability quality that made you warm up to him even if you had never met him personally. There was an inexplicable aura about Machel. He had that rare human trait.

That made his death that much harder to digest. It was difficult to imagine that anyone would want to kill him.

The cause of the crash still remains a mystery. Questions were raised about the involvement of the Apartheid regime because the plane crashed over South African territory.

These suspicions have never died and have only been reinforced by statements made by some members of the military though they have been strongly refuted.

Samora Machel

” Only by freeing ourselves from this will we be able to understand the world and understand colonialism. Only, only, only understanding this, are we in a position to make the revolution triumph in Mozambique. First, let‟s be proud to be Mozambicans — to be what we are. Yes or no? (Yes). There is no inferior race in the world. There is no superior race in the world. All races are equal. All peoples are equal. There is an imbalance in development that is a reality. But if that‟s how we must classify the superiority of races, then the Portuguese race is the lowest of all the peoples, because it‟s the most backward, yes or no? (Yes). Do you hear, comrades? (We hear). With this, we want to say that we don‟t want — we don‟t want — racism here in Mozambique. White racism. Black racism. We don‟t want it here in Mozambique. We want harmony between peoples. Harmony between races. Because we are all equal. Do you hear, comrades? (We hear).” Samora Machel in action exuding vigour and charisma while addressing a rally of supporters.

The Apartheid regime’s fear of Samora Machel provided a motive to kill him.

It is no secret they formed, armed, trained, financed and provided material support to RENAMO, led by Alphonso Dhlakama, a rebel group without a policy, to undermine Machel’s government.

It is no secret they were also involved in various acts of sabotage in Zimbabwe and arming dissidents there to undermine the newly formed Zimbabwe.

Their objective was to make majority African rule so unattractive it would dissuade the liberation movements fighting Apartheid and their supporters to accept white colonial rule as the best form of government.

It was a vain gesture because the writing was on the wall: South Africa was the last remaining isolated bastion of white supremacy in Africa surrounded by hostile African countries constantly snapping at its heels.

Time, history, the world and inevitability were also against them. Consequently, they were temporarily prolonging the shelf life of a doomed regime.

Fidel Castro and Samora Machel

The meeting of two great revolutionaries and anti-imperialist fighters. Fidel Castro and Samora Machel.

The question many may be asking is why Samora Machel and not Robert Mugabe.

Maybe it was fate. Machel died and Mugabe survived numerous attempts on his life.

Alternatively, there were unsubstantiated rumours, you know how stubborn these things are, real or imagined, that Samora Machel had made a pact with Josiah Magama Tongogara, another much loved and revered revolutionary who died in a car crash during the liberation war, to turn their attention to South Africa once Zimbabwe got her independence and drive the Boers back into the ocean and back where they came from.

Don’t take my word for it. The two people who can verify that story are no longer here to give their account of that particular narrative.

The only truth is that Samora Machel left us too soon. The truth is that, whether the rumours were true or false, Mozambique’s independence was not enough for him.

He couldn’t see his country having the racist and totalitarian regimes of Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa for neighbours. He helped Zimbabwe gain her independence and then continued pressing South Africa to grant independence to the indigenous peoples of the country.

Samora Machel

“SALARIES AND WAGES MUST REFLECT THE REALITY OF THE ENTERPRISE’S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE; DEVIATIONS FROM THE PLANNED PERFORMANCE SHOULD BE REFLECTED IN PAY.” A quote by Samora Machel above in the picture holding a baby while surveying the devastation caused by RENAMO, the South African sponsored bandits.

Samora Machel dedicated his life to fighting for the independence of Africa as a whole, not only Mozambique, and he remained true to his spirit until the very end.

His leading role in the total decolonisation of the continent was seized upon by the imperialist forces who sought to stop him because he was a threat to their interests in Southern Africa.

They in turn did what they do best. They used their powerful network of news media to churn out propaganda and generate the single story demonising Samora Machel as a dangerous communist who had to be stopped.

So it is no surprise Rhodesia and South Africa and their backers (bankrollers) responded by sponsoring a civil war in Mozambique to discredit its independence.

Dr Kenneth Kaunda,  Julius Nyerere

The trinity of Zimbabwean Independence: Samora Machel on the right, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in the centre and Dr Kenneth Kaunda on the left.

Like Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, who trained and supported African liberation movements, Samora Machel on seizing independence after defeating the Portuguese colonialists, he set his sights on Rhodesia to continue the struggle of decolonizing Africa and defeating the imperialist forces.

He turned his superior fighting party FRELIMO to fight the Rhodesian army. FRELIMO fought alongside ZANLA, the military wing of ZANU while ZIPRA (the military wing of ZAPU) attacked from Zambia.

This marked the turning point of the Chimurenga, opening a new chapter, the Zimbabwean Liberation Struggle.

There are those today who try to underplay the role of FRELIMO in the independence of Zimbabwe in a vain attempt to upgrade their own liberation and revolutionary credentials. Their contribution is relegated to the footnotes or totally omitted.

However, those in the know, know the truth that Samora Machel was instrumental in bringing Smith’s regime of diehard racists to its knees. Mozambique and FRELIMO opened up a new chapter in the liberation struggle.

Not even the Rhodesians aerial bombing and usage of chemical weapons like napalm against unarmed refugees (women and children) and a few guerrillas (liberation fighters) at camps like Nyadzonya and Chimoio could stop the inevitable train of black anger from crushing the old jalopy of white supremacy.

Samora Machel and Dr Kenneth Kaunda

Samora Machel and Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

Unlike some revolutionaries who come to power and overstay their welcomes and lose their people’s respect, Samora Machel remains greatly loved and revered.

He joined the ranks of legends like Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Thomas Sankara, Josiah Magama TongogaraHerbert Chitepo, Dr. Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa.

Despite leading Mozambique for 11 years, from 1975 to 1986, people still cry or get emotional when they recall the memory of one of Africa’s most respected and revered revolutionaries.

Samora Machel is not judged by the same standard as some leaders or revolutionaries who went on to lead or failed to lead the countries whose freedom they fought for.

Samora Machel never got to tarnish his legacy, not that I assume he would have, or revolutionary credentials. His untimely death secured his lasting and unblemished legacy. At the time of his death, it seemed he couldn’t do anything wrong.

Death made him an African martyr and guaranteed him a prominent seat at the table of rendezvous where Africa’s most revolutionary and truest sons gather at the dusk of their illustrious careers fighting the beasts of white supremacy and Devils of neocolonialism.

Samora Machel the leader of FRELIMO and first president of Mozambique

“We are here because we are the people with responsibilities. We are here because we merit the political confidence of the party. We have the task in our sectors of smashing the structures, working methods and mentality of colonial-capitalism. We have the task of building a new state apparatus that in character, content and working methods serves our interests.” Samora Machel captured during a speech in 1980. Above is an artist’s impression of the revolutionary leader of FRELIMO.

A commission consisting of representatives of Mozambique, South Africa and the Soviet Union was brought together to establish the cause of that fateful crash.

A multiplicity of reasons were put forward. Bad weather was cited. A mechanical cause was cited too. Pilot error.

The investigations failed to establish the exact nature of the crash.

Counteraccusations flew between Maputo and Pretoria for over a decade without shedding light on the exact cause of the crash. However, the residue of a conspiracy of the Apartheid regime’s involvement has never been put to rest and will probably never die.

The release of Nelson Mandela and independence of South Africa brought renewed hope to establishing the cause of the crash. However, like the Apartheid regime before it, Mandela’s government fared no better.

For a boy who came from a village in Mozambique, he travelled a long journey to become a maverick guerrilla strategist who pledged his life to defeating colonialism in Southern Africa and Africa as a whole.

His charisma, integrity and vigour transformed him into a psychologically resourceful leader who led from the frontline and never asked his followers to do what he couldn’t do himself.

Nonetheless, no one can accuse Samora Machel of being a revolutionary who can’t handle a gun or who never fought, as some other revolutionaries who claim liberation credentials are constantly accused of falsifying their liberation credentials. He was there in the battlefield.

He came, he saw and he conquered.

Machel was a leader who couldn’t be corrupted and till the end he died a man of high principles. Africa and the world lost a champion of freedom. We all lost to the detriment of the human race and world peace.

Samoral Machel

“So we must build a strong Mozambique, and prosperous. Do you hear? We must build a free society, a society of good relations amongst us all — we must create a spirit of cameraderie. Brothers aren‟t enough, no. It‟s not enough to be brothers. A spirit of cameraderie! Above all, because we have a big task, which is the task of the liberation of Mozambican women. The task of creating a new mentality among the youth, so that they can serve the whole people, so that they can serve the whole world. Do you hear, comrades? (We hear).” Samora Machel

Samora Machel’s obituaries and tributes painted a picture of a truly remarkable leader. The snapshot below illustrates this point.

Death dealers cannot kill Machel spirit. Herald [Harare] (29 October 1986).

Guardian viewpoint: a stunning loss. Guardian [New York] (29 October 1986).

Driving spirit of a nation’s struggle. New Nation [Johannesburg] (21 October 1986).

Enormous implications for Southern Africa: tributes pour in for Maputo leader. Citizen [Johannesburg] (21 October 1986).

His dream: man, a world renewed. New Nation [Johannesburg] (21 October 1986).

Machel: fiery and charismatic leader. Citizen [Johannesburg] (21 October 1986).

President Samora Machel. Times [London] (21 October 1986).

Quest for freedom was life’s goal. Herald [Harare] (21 October 1986).

Albin Krebs. Samora M. Machel, man of charisma: he held impoverished nation together by personality. New York Times [New York] (21 October 1986).

The arch-enemy of racism. Star [Johannesburg] (24 October 1986).

Iain Christie. The Machel I knew: what Frelimo’s leader taught me about racism. Weekly Mail [Johannesburg] (24 October 1986-30 October 1986). Iain Christie was the author of a biography of Machel published in both English and in Portuguese.

A great man. Sunday Mail [Harare] (26 October 1986).

Machel as South Africans saw him; Machel as the world saw him. City Press [Johannesburg] (26 October 1986).

People’s president. City Press [Johannesburg] (26 October 1986). 

Mono Badela. Machel the healer. City Press [Johannesburg] (26 October 1986). 

John D’Oliveira. Africa has lost a shining son. Sunday Star [Review] [Johannesburg] (26 October 1986).

People’s president. City Press [Johannesburg] (26 October 1986). 

Mono Badela. Machel the healer. City Press [Johannesburg] (26 October 1986).

John D’Oliveira. Africa has lost a shining son. Sunday Star [Review] [Johannesburg] (26 October 1986).

Gerald L’Ange. Machel leaves painful legacy. Sunday Star [Review] [Johannesburg] (26 October 1986). 

Davison Maruziva. Mozambican president died at crucial time. Sunday Mail [Harare] (26 October 1986). 

Percy Qoboza. The noblest of them all: Percy Qoboza pays tribute to President Samora Machel. City Press [Johannesburg] (26 October 1986). 

Messages of condolence on death of Samora Machel. Summary of World Broadcasts [London] no.FE/8400/A5 (27 October 1986), p.1-2. Messages of condolence from China, North Korea, India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Mongolia.

We’ve lost the champion of freedom: Muzenda. Herald [Harare] (October 1927). 

Comment: death of a hero. Herald [Harare] (28 October 1986). 

Andrew Mutandwa. Guerilla [sic] leader who radiated dignity. Herald [Harare] 

Death dealers cannot kill Machel spirit. Herald [Harare] (29 October 1986). Report of a speech by Canaan Banana, then president of Zimbabwe.

Guardian viewpoint: a stunning loss. Guardian [New York] (29 October 1986). 

Paul Fauvet. Mozambique mourns. Guardian [New York] (29 October 1986). 

He challenged colonialists from start. Herald [Harare] (30 October 1986). 

Machel’s big role in freeing Zimbabwe. Herald [Harare] (30 October 1986). 

Andy Higginbottom. Samora Machel: son of the Mozambican revolution. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! [London] (15 November 1986), p.7. A tribute in the newspaper of the British Revolutionary Communist Group

Gerald L’Ange. Machel leaves painful legacy. Sunday Star [Review] [Johannesburg] (26 October 1986). 

Davison Maruziva. Mozambican president died at crucial time. Sunday Mail [Harare] (26 October 1986). 

Percy Qoboza. The noblest of them all: Percy Qoboza pays tribute to President . 

Messages of condolence on death of Samora Machel. Summary of World Broadcasts [London] no.FE/8400/A5 (27 October 1986), p.1-2. Messages of condolence from China, North Korea, India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Mongolia.

We’ve lost the champion of freedom: Muzenda. Herald [Harare] (October 1927). 

Comment: death of a hero. Herald [Harare] (28 October 1986). 

My tribute to a great revolutionary and remarkable man would be incomplete without the videos of Journeyman Pictures, Wellington Ziwenga, Afravision and the numerous photographers and organisations whose photos appear in this article.

Thank you for taking the time to peruse this blog and I hope you have been equally rewarded reading this article and watching the documentaries as I found compiling it.

Tell your friends and share this article and let us tell our own stories. As Chinua Achebe wrote in Things Fall Apart, “until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

It is our duty to remembering these stories and our heroes so that we don’t forget where we are coming from and no one can turn back and erase our past as what happened during colonialism.

This is why I wrote this article to remember a type of time, a place and a man that might otherwise be forgotten with the passage of time.

He gave us our freedom. He sacrificed his life in the way Jesus Christ is alleged to have done. Therefore, the likes of Samora Moisés Machel live on in everyone of us through our collective remembrance of this gallant shining son of Africa.

Viva Revolution! ALUTA Continua!

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The Upright Man: Captain Thomas Sankara


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Twenty-seven years ago, on October 15, during a staff meeting, a rogue military gang, either led or ordered by Blaise CompaoréThomas Sankara‘s close friend, ally and trusted comrade, assassinated the young Pan Africansist icon and anti-imperialism revolutionary, Captain Thomas Isidore Sankara.

He was was only 37 years old. His untimely murder marked the death of one of Africa’s last anti-imperialist revolutionaries.

His body was chopped, cut up and dismembered in macabre circumstances. He was buried unceremoniously and his ideas, memory and name erased from the public view. However, it remained in the personal memory of Africans worldwide. And this is why I choose to remember this icon to prevent us from forgetting, and keeping Thomas Sankara‘s ideas alive.

Captain Thomas Isidore Sankara is remembered fondly as the hope of Africa. Some compare his charm and political trajectory and the tragedy that robbed Africa of an inspirational leader to Che Guevera.

That does a disservice to him. He was unique. He was the spokesman of the poorest of the poor in Africa and an advocate of women worldwide. There are those who have a less romantic and idealistic perception of him: they depict him as an autocrat who came to power through a coup. They are entitled to their opinions.

Sankara was ahead of his time. It’s a cliché but it’s also a fact. It is undeniable.

However, one thing is unquestionable: his legacy to African political thought and inspirational leadership are unparalleled especially in the present. His popularity, then and now, remains as strong as ever. Once he came to power, he undertook the most ambitious and radical programme for socioeconomic change ever attempted on the African continent, then and now.

image He is remembered for the value he placed on discipline, plus his integrity and selflessness. He implemented radical reforms when he came to power. His ministers drove small cars and travelled economy class. Sankara, himself, rode a bicycle. Chauffeur driven Mercedes Benz and 1st class airline tickets were banned.

He reduced his own salary and that of his own government ministers and public servants. He left nothing in the way of the immediate and radical transformation of society which is a move that upset his opponents and the western powers.

They (France and her allies) feared his ideology of an independent Africa which was not dependent on the West for its survival. It threatened its hegemonic control over Burkina Faso and other west African colonies.

He was an advocate for good governance, sustainability and transparency.

He understood why women are so critical to Africa’s transformation and he implemented bodies and policies that addressed women’s rights long before it was popular.

Decades before Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was calling on African men to be feminists, he had already declared, “We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or out of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph.” Thomas Sankara viewed the struggle of Burkina Faso’s women as “part of the worldwide struggle of all women”.

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Sankara was a preeminent thinker. He was the first African leader to recruit women into the military and appoint them to major cabinet positions. He was a doer not just a talker.

He was not afraid of challenging culture and tradition. He risked the ire of Burkinabè men by banning forced marriages and encouraging women to work outside the home, plus implementing policies to retain girls at school when they fell pregnant.

He put an end on the pressure on women to marry.  He viewed the emancipation of women as central to dismantling the stranglehold of the feudal system on Burkina Faso.

He set a world record, launching a nationwide public health campaign vaccinating 2 1/2 million people in a week. He was an avid environmentalist planting over 10 million trees to arrest the desertification of the Sahel.

To promote local production, Thomas Sankara actively encouraged cotton production and made a decree for public servants to wear a traditional tunic sewn by Burkinabè tailors and woven using local cotton. Western style suits were discouraged. Sankara himself also wore clothes made by local tailors, when he was not in military fatigues, and advertised them at continental and international conferences.

He angered the feudal landlords by taking land from them and redistributing it directly to the peasants. Consequently, wheat production rose in just three years from 1700kg per hectare to 3800, making Burkina Faso self reliant, a feat nations like Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa and other African nations with rich repositories of precious minerals and fossil fuels have failed miserably.

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Thomas Sankara shunned foreign aid and famously called for aid that helped the aided to become self reliant. He began a rail and road building programme to link up the country’s infrastructure and improve market accessibility.

Instead of foreign aid, he relied on (national building exercises) the commitment and energy of the Burkinabè to lift Burkina Faso out of the economic doldrums.

His political education was simple: “Let us consume only what we ourselves control!” Be self sufficient. Be honest. Live simply. But above all, it was his main goal that resonated beyond Burkina Faso and the African continent: Sankara wanted a fairer, proud, independent Africa that was equipped to tackle its challenges and that is what ultimately cost him his life.

He famously said, “Where is imperialism?” Look at your plates when you eat. These imported grains of rice, corn, and millet – that is imperialism.”

His solution was self reliance through growing what they could consume.

Thomas Sankara was a political statesmen and a political thinker who merged theory with practise in the manner of great philosopher-Kings throughout human history. His dual approach places him in the exalted company of a few. image

What probably sets Sankara aside is his application of Marxist-Lenist ideology to drive structural change in an unequal society characterised by poverty and oppression by a tiny political minority.

His appeal to the majority of modern Africans, unlike the current crop of African leaders, is his undisguised dedication to the welfare and well being of his country and country-people.

Few African leaders today can match his extraordinary zeal to uplift Africa and its citizens. Today’s breed of African leaders come to power and do little or nothing to change the miserable conditions the masses find themselves in.

After independence, the people are left asking: what did we fight for. The only change in the post-independent state is the colour of the oppressor by a tiny wealthy minority.

There are no sweeping policy, structural or socioeconomic changes. There are a few aesthetic changes but the colonial structure and apparatus remain virtually intact and are used to maintain the status quo after independence.

Imperialism and neocolonialism emerge as the true winners and economic apartheid continues unchecked.

There is no need to emphasise that Thomas Sankara was a committed African nationalist. African nationalism is a broad based and flexible mode of thought which encompasses African Marxism, African populism and African socialism.

In addition, African nationalism isn’t a uniform ideology but it takes various forms. Some African nationalists embraced modernisation, capitalism and westernisation.

Then there were the early theorists like Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sékou Touré and others who advocated for a unique blend of African socialism mixed with traditional African values and traditions together with elements of Marxist-Leninist ideology.

Captain Thomas Sankara in Harare flanked by the first prime minister of Zimbabwe Robert Gabriel Mugabe, and Zimbabwe's first president Canaan Sodindo Banana.

Captain Thomas Sankara in Harare flanked by the first prime minister of Zimbabwe Robert Gabriel Mugabe, and Zimbabwe’s first president Canaan Sodindo Banana.

However, Thomas Sankara was a class apart from the types described above. He was an African populist like Steve Bantu Biko. They both embraced the tenets of African socialism but their emphasis was on structural change such as the transformation of their countries’ economies, policies and their societies for the benefit of their people.

Apart from their youth and charm, Biko and Sankara were doers, active participants in social transformation, contrary to the older brand of African socialists and nationalists who were theorists and merely played lip service to their political rhetoric.

They both came up with genuine and practical liberation ideologies.

Biko and Sankara, like Amilcar Cabral, believed in the intelligentsia committing class suicide to help uplift the masses because they believed that the gap between the black intelligentsia and the masses was a deterrent to development.

Two of Africa's finest sons and popular leaders: Captain Thomas Sankara and Samoa Machel (president of Mozambique)

Two of Africa’s finest sons and popular leaders: Captain Thomas Sankara and Samora Machel (president of Mozambique)

Thomas Sankara like Biko, Samora Machel, Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba are African martyrs. They share a common thread that runs through their tragic narratives: they were murdered by agents of the Western powers.

Sankara’s murder eerily echoes that of Lumumba.

Sankara’s untimely death robbed both the Burkinabè and Africa of a young charismatic leader who was chartering a new course. However, he left behind a template of what an African leader can, could, must and should be.

Captain Thomas Sankara with Colonel Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi

Today, there are many committed Sankarists across the African continent, extending, into the Diaspora reinforcing Sankara’s thoughts: “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas“.

The appeal of Sankara’s ideas is even stronger today because of the growing divide betweens the haves and have-nots, the oppressed and the oppressed, the western puppets and masses.

Thomas Sankara‘s radical four year rule in the early 1980s transforming Upper Volta, which he renamed Burkina Faso (the land of upright men), into a self reliant nation fired the imagination of Africans and Pan Africanists. His ideas not only found currency with the Burkinabè but they resonated elsewhere in Africa and the Diaspora.

Sankara’s ideology of African economic independence, self reliance, freedom from serfdom and slavery, education, literacy, women’s equality, addressing deforestation and wiping out corruption are ideas that are still poignant in the struggle for African liberation and the realisation of the envisioned self.

This is why Thomas Sankara is still as popular and relevant as ever. His ideology, memories and popularity have a longevity which continues to haunt those responsible for his murder. They assassinated him but they didn’t kill his ideas.

Sankara’s Revolution sent seismic shocks throughout the continent threatening the status quo of France’s unchallenged dominance of its ex-colonies in West Africa and the corrupt regimes (neocolonial elite or puppets) acting as gatekeepers of these neocolonialist states.

Thomas Sankara spoke in layman’ terms publicly and at forums such as the OAU (Organisation of African Unity), articulately diagnosing the raping and pillaging of Africa by the neocolonialist powers using proxy wars, Western finance and trade. He pinpointed the pitfalls of aid saying it simply and clearly, “he who feeds you, controls you”.

He also provided the remedy to his diagnosis.

He called for the formation of the Club of Addis Ababa to collectively confront the catastrophes and issues debt was causing in Africa. He reiterated the benefits of a united front of African nations to refuse to pay debt for many reasons such as if Africa paid, it would face a crisis.

He said, “It is our duty to create an Addis Adeba’s unified front against debt. That is the only way to assert that refusing to repay is not an aggressive move on our part, but a fraternal move to speak the truth.”

Best friends, Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings (Ghana) and Captain Thomas Sankara

Best friends, Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings (Ghana) and Captain Thomas Sankara

In addition, he argued that the current governments were not the ones who had run up the debts. It was their (neocolonialist powers) cousins. Therefore, it was not Africans’ responsibility to repay that debt.

Below is an excerpt of his speech against debt at the OAU in Addis Ababa in 1987:

“We think that debt has to be seen from the standpoint of its origins. Debt’s origins come from colonialism’s origins. Those who lend us money are those who had colonized us before. They are those who used to manage our states and economies. Colonizers are those who indebted Africa through their brothers and cousins who were the lenders. We had no connections with this debt. Therefore we cannot pay for it. Debt is neo-colonialism, in which colonizers transformed themselves into “technical assistants”.We should better say “technical assassins”.

They present us with financing, with financial backers. As if someone’s back could create development. We have been advised to go to these lenders. We have been proposed with nice financial set-ups. We have been indebted for fifty, sixty years and even more. That means we have been led to compromise our people for fifty years and more.

Under its current form, that is imperialism controlled, debt is a cleverly managed reconquest of Africa, aiming at subjugating its growth and development through foreign rules. Thus, each one of us becomes the financial slave, which is to say a true slave, of those who had been treacherous enough to put money in our countries with obligations for us to repay. We are told to repay, but it is not a moral issue. It is not about this so-called honour of repaying or not.”

You can read more at the following link: Thomas Sankara’s  Speech Against Foreign Aid at the OAU.

He was aware about the role of Western aid and equally clear on the role of debt in controlling Africa as he stated: “The root of the disease was political. The treatment could only be political. Of course, we encourage aid that aids us in doing away with aid. But in general, welfare and aid policies have only ended up disorganizing us, subjugating us, and robbing us of a sense of responsibility for our own economic, political, and cultural affairs. We chose to risk new paths to achieve greater well-being.”

Three months after this famous speech at the OAU, the angel of death closed in on Thomas Sankara because of his outspoken and uncompromising stance against neocolonialism and white supremacy.

He had prophesied at the OAU summit that, “If Burkina Faso alone were to refuse to pay the debt, I wouldn’t be at the next conference.”

Unfortunately, he was correct.

He was warned to take action but he refused because he chose to remain true to the ideals and spirit of the revolution.

Consequently, the dogs of imperialism in the Burkinabè leadership and another French puppet, Côte d’Ivoire president Félix Houphoet-Boigny, did the bidding of their masters and Africa’s brightest star was murdered.

image Thomas Sankara‘s  narrative has all the elements of a Shakespearean tragedy. It has betrayal, intrigue, friendship, loyalty, a hero, a villain; he is overthrown and murdered at the request of his best friend, ally and trusted comrade.

Most important of all, his case study is a must for those who preach about Black Consciousness and unity. It illustrates the selfless approach and self discipline required to practise what you preach especially if you are dedicated to African advancement and development.

If you want to find a solution to the problems afflicting Africa, Thomas Sankara‘s narrative provides the perfect case study. He is the antithesis to the current crop of neocolonialist puppets.

Africa’s leaders and political parties should borrow several pages out of his book, if not the whole book.

Thomas Sankara‘s character and ideology doesn’t fit in with the dominant narrative propagated in the west for decades. It is impossible to find a less corrupt, selfless or self-serving leader than Thomas Sankara. It is even more impossible to find a leader today with more integrity than Sankara.

He was a man among great men. This is why he is referred to as The Upright Man.

To understand why, watch the documentary about The Upright Man by following the highlighted link or copy and paste the following URL http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J5USbA701SI#.

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October 16, 2014 · 2:36 am