Tag Archives: Burkina Faso

30 Kwame Nkrumah’s Quotes from Class Struggle In Africa: Saluting An African Revolutionary

Kwame Nkrumah was a Ghanaian nationalist leader who led Ghana, formerly the Gold Coast, to independence from Britain. This post explores Kwame Nkrumah quotes I pulled from one of sixteen books, Class Struggle in Africa, he wrote.

You can skip the pursuing paragraphs which place Nkrumah in context to access the quotes below.

Nkrumah first became Prime Minister of the Gold Coast in 1951; he  led it to independence in 1957 when he also became the first Prime Minister of an independent Ghana. In 1960, the country became a republic and he became the president.

On a state visit to Hanoi in February 1966, Nkrumah was overthrown by a coup led by the reactionary forces within Ghana. They were assisted by their imperialist and neo-colonialist masters pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Nkrumah was later to write in Class Struggle in Africa, “Imperialist aggression has expressed itself not only in coups d’état, but in the assassination of revolutionary leaders, and the setting up of new intelligence organisations”.

Front cover of the book Class Struggle in Africa written by Kwame Nkrumah

His experience taught him a lot of things that ordinary people were unaware of. His experience permeates the texts he writes and this is what makes his testimonies so powerful.

His words would became true in the assassination and murder of revolutionaries like Thomas Sankara from Burkina Faso in 1987 and Samora Machel, leader of Mozambique in 1986 to mention a few.

Patrice Lumumba from the Democratic Republic of Congo was long gone by then, killed like the latter two for his anti-imperialist views, and will to uphold the will of his countrymen while refusing to be a puppet of the agents of imperialism.

Fleet Street and the western media and other media outlets demonised Nkrumah, creating fictions that he was a dictator and his rule was becoming authoritarian to justify the coup in support of his political enemies, the reactionaries, who were nothing more than mere puppets in the whole charade.

Nkrumah was a threat to their interests and cut a lonely figure, a voice crying in the wilderness, denouncing neocolonialism and imperialism and calling for the expulsion of the European powers from Africa, and the Unification of Africa into a single state under a socialist government as he spells out in the video clip below.

He was a threat to the neo-colonialist and imperialist ambitions and interests of the west; especially, as he was turning more and more towards the east, China, Russia and other socialist countries.

The western powers couldn’t afford to lose their lucrative share of Ghana’s diamonds, gold and cocoa. They couldn’t let Nkrumah influence other African countries to follow his lead.

The European powers were at war trying to maintain their stranglehold on Africa’s resources. America was using the United Nations to force the European powers to release their stranglehold on Africa so it could get a slice of the cake.

Therefore, he was a threat to their colonial, neocolonial and imperialist ambitions and interests. Nkrumah was a dangerous man. His ideas were dangerous.

The Americans were not happy with him for trying to create a government that was against their interests. They were even more afraid of other African governments which might have been encouraged to follow Nkrumah’s lead.

In addition, Nkrumah’s material and financial support for liberation movements fighting the white minority and colonial regimes in Africa made him a figure who had to go.

Therefore, they used the reactionary forces to get him out of power and continue their monopoly of Ghana’s valuable resources.

Nkrumah spent the last six years of his life as co-president of Guinea where his friend Sekou Toure invited him to partner him.

He also spent time writing books such as Class Struggle in Africa published in 1970 and others.

During that time, he also founded PANAF BOOKS. It came about after the two publishers who had previously published his work refused to publish his books after his fall from grace.

The political motivation was evident: Nkrumah understood better that this was an attempt to silence him and his ideology. He was also able to buy the previous books before they were turned into pulp and all his ideas killed.

Fortunately for us, these books and Panaf Books are still around continuing where he left off.

Nkrumah published about 16 books during his life. Only two of these: Revolutionary Path and Rhodesia File were published posthumously in 1972 by the company he set up. All sixteen books are available through Panaf Books.

I am sure there are numerous other books out there, volumes about Nkrumah’s speeches, and many others inspired by the great man.

Nkrumah died in exile and he never set foot in his Ghana again. There are many around, those close to him, who maintain that Nkrumah was murdered: his death was unnatural as the speech below, Cancer of Betrayal, by Amilcar Cabral spells out.

However, time has been kind to him. Time has absolved him of all the accusations made by his detractors.

Time has restored him as the great man he was. He is remembered as the firebrand of African liberation.  Today, those people who overthrew him hail him as the greatest man in Ghana.

They in turn have since sunk into oblivion. Across Africa he is revered as an international symbol for freedom. His ideology for a United Africa lives in the hearts and minds of true African Revolutionaries.

Nkrumah was central to the founding of the Organisation of African Unity and his support for the liberation movements striving to free themselves from the colonial powers during the decolonisation of the continent made him a hero right across Africa and the Black Diaspora.

Those who have tried to push his visions for a United Africa like Colonel Muammar Gaddafi or Robert Mugabe are either murdered by the imperialist powers or demonised.

Nkrumah’s ideology continues to live in young and old across Africa and the Black Diaspora.

His words remain relevant to an awakening generation of revolutionaries. This is why I have taken the time to share 30 of his quotes below from Class Struggle in Africa. Enjoy.

  1. Workers are workers, and nationality, race, tribe and religion are irrelevancies in the struggle to achieve socialism.
  2. In Africa there should be no African “alien”. All are Africans. The enemy-wall to be brought down and crushed is not the African “alien” worker but Balkanisation and the artificial territorial boundaries created by imperialism.
  3. It is the task of the African urban proletariat to win the peasantry to revolution by taking the revolution to the countryside.
  4. It is the indigenous bourgeoisie who provide the main means by which international monopoly finance continues to plunder and to frustrate the purposes of the African Revolution.
  5. The exposure and the defeat of the African bourgeoisie, therefore, provides the key to the successful accomplishment of the worker-peasant struggle to achieve total liberation and socialism, and to advance the cause of the entire world socialist revolution.
  6. Colonialism, imperialism and neocolonialism are expressions of capitalism and of bourgeois economic and political aspirations.
  7. There is not one country in Africa today where the political consciousness of the worker-peasant class has resulted in the establishment of of a socialist state.
  8. The worker-peasant class even though it has assisted in the winning of independence, has not yet assumed leadership in Africa as a conscious class. Closeup picture of Kwame Nkrumah and his book entitled I Speak Of Freedom. The quote superimposed over his face reads,
  9. Imperialist aggression has expressed itself not only in coups d’état, but in the assassination of revolutionary leaders, and the setting up of new intelligence organisations.
  10. As long as African States continue to be dependent in any degree for training, and for arms and supplies on capitalist sources, the African Revolution is in jeopardy.
  11. Historically, professional armies of the capitalist world have a tradition of suppression of socialist and revolutionary movements. They are the instruments of the ruling class or classes for maintaining bourgeois power.
  12. There is little justification for the enormous sums of money spent on the armies of Africa. Africa is not threatened territorially by any outside power. The border disputes which exist between certain African States, most of them legacies from the colonial period, are all capable of peaceful resolution.
  13. Inequality can only be ended by the abolition of classes.
  14. Ideologies reflect class interests and class consciousness. Liberalism, individualism, elitism, and bourgeois “democracy” – which is an illusion – are examples of bourgeois ideology. Fascism, imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism are also expressions of bourgeois thinking and of bourgeois political and economic aspirations.
  15. Those who for political reasons pay lip service to socialism, while aiding and abetting imperialism and neocolonialism, serve bourgeois interests. Workers and peasants may be misled for a time, but as class consciousness develops the bogus socialists are exposed, and genuine socialist revolution is made possible.
  16. The principles of scientific socialism are universal and abiding, and involve the genuine socialisation of productive and distributive processes. Picture of Kwame Nkrumah waving at the masses at a stadium. The quote superimposed on the picture reads “And my last warning to you is that you are to  stand firm behind us so that we can prove to the world that when the African is given a chance, he can show the world that he is somebody!”
  17. For race is inextricably linked with class exploitation, in a racist-capitalist power structure, capitalist exploitation and race oppression are complementary; the removal of one ensures the removal of the other.
  18. A non-racial society can only be achieved by socialist revolutionary action of the masses. It will never come as a gift of the minority ruling class.
  19. Elitism is an ideology tailor-made to fit capitalism and bourgeois de facto domination in the capitalist society. Furthermore, it intensifies racism, since it can be used to subscribe to the myth of racial superiority and inferiority.
  20. In general, intellectuals with working class origins tend to be more radical than those from the privileged sectors of society.
  21. Intelligentsia and intellectuals, if they are to play a part in the African Revolution, must become conscious of the class struggle in Africa, and align themselves with the oppressed masses. This involves the difficult, but not impossible, task of cutting themselves free from bourgeois attitudes and ideologies imbibed as a result of colonialist education and propaganda.
  22. Socialist revolutionary struggle, whether in the form of political, economic or military action, can be ultimately effective if it is organised, and it has its roots in the class struggle of workers and peasants.
  23. The total liberation and the unification of Africa under an All-African socialist government must be the objective of all Black revolutionaries throughout the world.
  24. The core of the Black Revolution is in Africa, and until Africa is united under a socialist government, the Black man throughout the world lacks a national home. Picture of a portrait of Kwame Nkrumah on the front cover of Time Magazine. A quote beside the picture reads,
  25. It is around the African peoples’ struggles for liberation and unification that African or Black culture will take shape and substance.
  26. The African Revolution is not an isolated one. It not only forms part of the world socialist revolution, but must be seen in the context of the Black Revolution as a whole.
  27. Socialism can only be achieved through class struggle.
  28. In Africa, the internal enemy – the reactionary bourgeoisie – must be exposed as exploiters and parasites, and as collaborators with imperialists and neo-colonialists on whom they largely depend for the maintenance of their positions of power and privilege.
  29. The rural proletariat are workers in the Marxist sense of the word. They are part of the working class and the most revolutionary of the African rural strata.
  30. The basis of a revolution is created when the organic structure and conditions within a given society have aroused mass consent and mass desire for positive action to change or transform that society.

I hope you enjoyed those quotes and found them not only interesting but enlightening and they inspire you to know more about Kwame Nkrumah. Keep your eyes open for my book review of Class Struggle in Africa by Kwame Nkrumah coming soon.

If you want your copy of the books or others by him, you can order from Panaf Books. Follow the link.


June 26, 2015 · 4:25 pm

In memory of Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara, The Upright Man: 27 quotes on Women’s liberation and the African freedom struggle

Thomas Sankara

The Upright Man: Captain Thomas Isidore Sankara

Captain Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara is the late Burkinabe military captain, Marxist revolutionary, Pan African theorist and the President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. He is more popularly known as The Upright Man. He was born on the 21st of December 1949 in Yako, Burkina Faso.

He rose to power through a popular revolution or coup in what was known as Upper Volta in West Africa. He was only 33 at the time. His goal was the socioeconomic and political transformation of his nation, eliminating corruption, oppression, exploitation and dominance of France, the former colonial power.

He renamed Upper Volta and called the new country Burkina Faso  which literally means Land of Upright Man, hence his popular moniker.

Sankara is remembered for some of the most ambitious and successful programmes for social and economic change he implemented when he came to power. Within four years, he transformed Burkina Faso from an impoverished nation to a self reliant country through his commitment and drive to transform his political and moral ideology into action.

He conducted a struggle against imperialism, foregoing foreign aid for his government, nationalising the land and mineral wealth, neutralising the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

He was one of the first presidents to launch a tree planting programme to arrest the desertification of the Sahel, agrarian self sufficiency, local production of Burkinabe goods, nationwide literacy campaigns and vaccination programmes.

These are only a few examples of his programmes. It is by no means an exhaustive list. He was deeply committed to the liberation of women from exploitation and oppression by outsiders and society and culture.

He banned female circumcision, forced marriages, polygamy, expelling girls from school when they fell pregnant. Sankara appointed women to high governmental positions, employed women in the army, encouraged them to be employed outside the home and set up committees and institutions to tackle women’s liberation.

This article is not going to focus on his accomplishments and programmes. The focus is on his words and ideas and one of his concerns – Women’s Liberation.

Therefore, I have chosen 27 quotes, mainly from The book Women’s Liberation and the African freedom Struggle. The book features two speeches. The first, Women’s Liberation and the African freedom Struggle, was made he made in 1987.

The second, Women’s role in the democratic and popular revolution, was made earlier on the 2nd of October 1983. I was reading the book and was going to write and post a review. However, time was not on my side.

Therefore, I thought that 27 quotes, one for each year since he passed away, was a befitting way to remember Thomas Sankara through his own words and ideas and something, women’s liberation, that concerned him very much while he was still alive.

In a sense, it captures the essence of Thomas Sankara and provides a focus on the man himself, his convictions and his essence without an interpreter or narrator providing their own opinion of what they made or understood of the Upright Man.

Look forward to the review in a few days. In the meantime enjoy these quotes and please share them so that more people become aware of Sankara and what he stood for; his ideas, his quest for the liberation of the oppressed worldwide and women’s liberation.

In his own words, “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas”. He would happy that his ideas are still alive and are a source of inspiration to the people he sacrificed his life for – you and me – and humanity.Caption of Thomas Sankara

  1. The weight of age-old traditions in our society has relegated women to the rank of beasts of burden. Women suffer doubly from all the scourges of neocolonial society. First, they experience the same suffering as men. Second they are subjected to additional suffering by men.
  2. Our revolution is in the interests of all the oppressed and all those who are exploited in today’s society. It is therefore in the interests of women, since the basis of their domination by men lies in the system through which society’s political and economic life is organised. By changing the social order that oppresses women, the revolution creates the conditions for their genuine economic emancipation.
  3. The men and women of our society are all victims of imperialist oppression and domination. That is why they wage the same battle.
  4. The liberation and women’s liberation go together. 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. Women hold up the other half of the sky.
  5. A diploma is not a free pass to emancipation.
  6. We must have a correct understanding of the question of women’s emancipation. It is not a mechanical equality between men and women, acquiring habits recognised as male – drinking, smoking and wearing pants. That’s not emancipation. Nor will acquiring diplomas make women equal to men or more emancipated. A diploma is not a free pass to emancipation. Picture of Thomas Sankara
  7. The genuine liberation of women is one that entrusts responsibilities to women, that involves them in productive activity and in different fights the people face. The genuine emancipation of women is one that compels men to give their respect and consideration. Emancipation, like freedom, is not granted, it is conquered. It is for women themselves to put forward their demands and mobilize to win them.
  8. Could it be possible to eliminate the system of exploitation while maintaining the exploitation of women, who make up more than half of our society?
  9. The final goal of this great understanding is to build a free and prosperous society in which women will be equal to men in all spheres.
  10. We should be conscious of the battles that have been waged, the successes that have been achieved, the setbacks that have been suffered, and the difficulties that have been encountered. This will aid us in further preparing and leading future struggles.
  11. It now falls to you to act with the great sense of responsibility in breaking through all the chains and shackles that enslave women in backward societies like ours and to assume your share of the responsibilities in the political fight to build a new society at the service of Africa and at the service of all humanity.
  12. As long as women don’t have a clear appreciation of the just nature of the political battle to be fought and don’t see clearly how to take it forward, we can easily stop making headway and eventually slip backward.Image of Thomas Sankara emblazoned with the quote "I want people to remember me as someone whose life has been useful to humanity".
  13. Education and economic emancipation, if not well understood and channelled in a constructive direction, can be be a source of misfortune for the woman and thus for society as a whole.
  14. Our women should not retreat in face of the so many-sided struggles that lead a woman to take charge of herself fully and proudly, so as to discover the happiness of being herself, not the domesticated female of the male.
  15. We must say again to our sisters that marriage, if it brings society nothing positive and does not bring them happiness, is not indispensable and should be avoided.
  16. As revolutionaries, we should see to it that marriage is a choice that adds something positive, and not some kind of lottery where we know what the ticket costs us, but have no idea what we’ll end up winning. Human feelings are too noble to be subjected to such games.
  17. The revolution cannot triumph without the genuine emancipation of women.
  18. Women, like men, have qualities and weaknesses – which undoubtedly proves they are equal to men. Placing the emphasis deliberately on women’s qualities in no way means we have an idealistic vision of them. We simply aim to single out the qualities and capacities that men and society have always hidden in order to justify their exploitation and subjugation of women.
  19. Though our resources are ridiculously small, our goals are ambitious. The will to go forward and our firm conviction are not sufficient to make our wager succeed. We must marshall our forces – all our forcs, organise them, and channel them toward winning our struggle. Image of Thomas Sankara addressing a rally
  20. We should avoid shirking responsibilities, which has led to a failure to bring all forces into the struggle and to making this pivotal question of women’s emancipation into a marginal one. We must avoid rushing ahead, leaving far behind those, especially the women, who should be on the frontlines.
  21. It’s in the heat of the struggle that important and decisive victories are won.
  22. Conceiving a development project without the participation of women is like using only four fingers when you have ten. It’s an invitation to failure.
  23. It is an obvious fact that wherever women have had access to education, their march to equality has been accelerated. Emerging from the darkness of ignorance allows women to take up and use the tools of knowledge in order to place themselves at the disposal of society.
  24. Living in squalor produces squalid relations. Look at the pigs if you don’t believe me.
  25. For the time being, we have no choice but to recognise that male behaviour – made up of vanity, irresponsibility, arrogance, and violence of all kinds toward women – can in no way result in coordinated action against women’s oppression. What can be said of these attitudes, which can sink to the level of stupidity, and which in reality are nothing but a safety valve for oppressed males, who, through brutalising their wives, hope to regain some of the human dignity denied them by the system of exploitation. This male stupidity is called masichismo. It includes moral and intellectual impoverishment of all types, even (acknowledged or not) physical powerlessness, which often compels politically conscious women to consider it their duty to fight on two fronts. Thomas Sankara
  26. We must pay close attention to the situation of women because it pushes the best of them to talk of a war of the sexes, when what we really have is a war of social groups and of social classes that should simply be waged together, with men and women complementing each other. We have to say frankly that it’s the attitude of men that makes such confusion possible. That in turn paves the way for the bold assertions made by feminism, some of which have not been without value in the fight that men and women are waging against oppression. This fight is one we can and will win – if we understand that we need one another and are complementary, and finally, if we understand that we are condemned to being complementary.
  27. Comrades, there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to a society where half the people are held in silence. I hear the roar of women’s silence. I sense the rumble of their storm and feel the fury of their revolt. I await and hope for the fertile eruption of the revolution through which they will transmit the strength and the rigorous justice issued from their oppressed wombs.

Keep your eyes peeled for two book reviews coming within the next few days. The first is Woman’s liberation and the African freedom struggle based on speeches by the late Captain Thomas Isidore Noel Sankara.

The second is I Write What I Like written by the late Steve Bantu Biko. It is a compilation of his speeches, letters, reports, articles and interviews. Don’t miss them. Thanks for reading. Spread the word. Spread the ideas.


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Victory for The Upright Men: Triumph of the people’s will over a tyrant

Burkina Faso

Over the past few weeks I have observed keenly the events unfolding in Burkina Faso. I have written a number of articles documenting what has been taking place.

As I am writing now, there is a meeting in progress, which started at 18:00pm, where the leading men and women in Burkina Faso are in the process of picking a civilian leader.

Maybe before I publish this article, the new civilian leader in charge of leading the country through a transition period for a year will have been announced.

By then, this article will be old news but still good news. Maybe I might have to edit it and update it. Whatever the case is, the facts remain unchanged.

After Lt Col Issac Zida stepped down, the path to a new era was laid. He did the honourable thing and handed over power gracefully. He became an intergral link to history when he signed the transition charter. He duly got a standing ovation for playing his part in the smooth transition of power.

Image of Lt Col Zida

Lt Col Zida handing over the transition charter paving the way for civilian rule.

It could have been a bloody conflict which would leave behind residues of hate and plant seeds for sectarian violence as we have witnessed recent events in Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc. where these nations have descended into anarchy and wave after wave of sectarian violence.

Thanks to the African Union for remaining on top of the situation. It is a good sign to see Africans resolving African issues in peace without the need for external intervention which mainly believes that total destruction is the only solution.

Therefore, it is no longer a question of if a civilian leader will be handed power but more a question of who and when.

The latter question is hanging in the balance for a few hours but the more pertinent question most of us want to know is who will have the honour of making history.

Whoever is chosen will be sworn in on Friday. The transitional president will choose a prime minister who will appoint a 25 member government. They will not be allowed to participate at the elections. The first government sitting will be on Saturday.

A committee of 23 compromising members of the army, religious and traditional groups, political opposition and civil society have the difficult task to select the chosen one. They have four to five candidates to choose from. These range from a priest, two journalists, a socioligist and a retired diplomat.


However, it appears that the church may have retracted the priests nomination citing that political power and priesthood were incompatible.

Therefore, you are witnessing history in the making. It may not be as dramatic as the fall of the Berlin Wall or the moment Nelson Mandela walked out of prison with Winnie Madikizela Mandela on his arm, waving to people who came to witness the end of an era and beginning of another.

However, it is still a historic moment, especially, for the Burkinabe who made this moment possible. In the words of the late Thomas Sankara, they dared to invent the future. This is the future they have invented.

For the Burkinabe, it will be the first time in 31 years that they will have a civilian leader. For many young people under the age of 28, it will be the first time they will have seen a new leader apart from Blaise Compaore who ruled for 27 years after he overthrew the late Captain Thomas Isidore Sankara in a military coup on the 15th of October 1987.

Thomas Sankara

The fall of the strong man might herald a new era for Africa. I have to resist the temptation of waxing lyrical and romanticise the situation. Change is stubborn. Change is difficult. It is resisted by many for various reasons even if it is in their best interests.

Simply changing from what people know or are comfortable with may be be too much for some people because it forces them to change too. Sometimes it’s the fear of the unknown that forces people to hold onto situations that are not conducive for their personal, political and social growth and development.

Change is not apocalyptic. It is a protracted process over time. It requires compromise. It calls for political maturity and interested parties to work together for the common good of the people and the country.

There will be conflict in bringing change to the country because different parties or factions will have different ideologies or methodologies that they believe work best.

The greatest challenge to change is having people who have the political will and honesty to implement the policy and ideas they propose. However, I believe that Burkina Faso has taken a mature step towards building a future compatible with their aspirations and will.

The events of the 31st October took many by surprise. Few foresaw how a sitting president of a stable country in Africa could be unseated by a popular uprising. It is rare. There are few precedents.

Lassina Sawadogo face to face with two soldiers

However, a number of presidents in Africa who have been in power for decades will have observed what happened in Burkina Faso and they will know it can happen to them too.

Anytime they see or hear of a protest, the events of the 31st of October 2014 will be at the back of their minds. It remains to be seen whether the cries of the Burkinabe youth “Enough is enough” will find resonance elsewhere on the continent.

Burkinabe protesters

People power: Burkinabe protesters gather in Ougadougou to protest against Blaise Compoare attempts to extend his rotten shelf life.

Gone are the days when the national media could censor events happening across the continent or all over the world. The advent of social media and various smart phone apps where ideas and knowledge can be shared without state censorship has weakened those who would want to keep ideas of uprisings at bay.

This continual flow of subversive ideas through technology, enlightenment through formal or informal education is a cause for major headaches for tyrants and rogues who keeping clinging to power amid the clamouring calls for change by the youth.

Those who refuse to respect the will of the people may regret their decisions when their empires come crumbling down and masonry and steel structures from the castles they build in the sky rain on their heads.

For a long time, Blaise Compoare like many African leaders, presided over a democracy in name only but not in substance or practise. He did so many things to transform his image to appear like a moderate leader and a respected consummate statesman who had his fingers on the pulse of what was happening in Africa.

He was a strong ally of the western powers in their fight against Muslim militants in the region but not even his powerful connections could save him when the time came.

However, the company he kept revealed more about his nefarious activities and his Jekyll and Hyde character. You can polish a turd and spray perfume on it but you can’t hide the stink. The Burkinabe smelt the shit and when it’s stench became unbearable duly flushed it down the toilet and consigned it the political sewer where it belongs.

The final act by Lt Col Zida to sign the transition charter to pave way for a civilian leader to head the government for a year marks a triumph of the people’s will over tyranny.

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November 16, 2014 · 9:41 pm

12 Lessons From the 31st October Burkinabe Revolution

Once people overcome their fear of death or the system, they are unstoppable

via 12 Lessons From the 31st October Burkinabe Revolution.

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Burkina Faso Sanctions Threat

The struggle for the Burkinabe continues. I believe they deserve our support in every way in their ongoing struggle against tyrants and rogues.

via Burkina Faso Sanctions Threat.


November 9, 2014 · 3:27 pm

Burkina Faso Sanctions Threat

Burkina Faso protesters

The African Union has threatened to impose sanctions on Burkina Faso if the military doesn’t hand over power to civilian rule within two weeks.

However, Burkina Faso‘s military leader, Issac Zida dismisses African Union intervention preferring stability.

The military led by Zida agreed on elections next year but hasn’t agreed on an interim leader.

This seems to be a ploy for these counter revolutionary forces to reverse the gains of the popular uprising that led to Blaise Compaore resigning after 27 years and fleeing to Ivory Coast.

Lt Col Zida retorted, “we are not afraid of sanctions.”

This suits his plans as the interim leader to buy time to regroup and consolidate power while re-strategising Compaore’s stunned counter revolutionary forces.

A quick and efficient hand over to the Burkinabe is in the interests of those who kicked Compaore out of power.

Zida’s comments that the military “care more about stability than the AU’s threats” hints at how far the military is prepared to dig its heels into the ground to do what it needs to do to protect their interests and sacrifice the gains made by the popular uprising.

Burkinabe protesters

The military are taking advantage of the impasse between the political parties about who should be the interim leader. It is surprising that they pushed so far without having made that crucial decision.

I assume the results of the popular uprising took them by surprise too. They never expected to find themselves in the position they are in now. They seem to be suffering stage fright and indecision after coming to terms with reality.

It is no surprise the military are taking advantage of the confusion in the civilian camp. It is a basic rule of the art of war.

However, the political parties are clear on one thing: they don’t want Blaise  Compaore‘s  former governing party to be involved in the ongoing discussions. I wouldn’t want them too.

Lt Col Zida was previously second in command of the presidential guard: that would put him in the latter camp the political parties don’t want in the discussions.

Lt Col Issac Zida

The Burkinabe have been very vocal and they are still protesting because they want civilian rule. Therefore, it is imperative the army respects the will of the people because they will not rest until their demands are met.

ECOWAS, the West African regional body discouraged the international community from imposing sanctions on Burkina Faso. They are optimistic their mediation efforts led by Senagelese President Macky Sall can achieve an equally agreeable solution.

He was party to the three man team that traveled to Ouagadougou this week to engage in talks which secured the one year transition agreement.

However, I believe any means that force the military to hand over power soon shouldn’t be discouraged. It is in the best interests of the Burkinabe and long term future of Burkina Faso.

Various parties are engaged in ongoing talks to agree on a civilian interim leader.

The AU sanctions could include:

  • a travel ban on military officials.
  • suspension from the union.

However, we have to question their efficacy and whether they serve as a deterrent. They don’t sound like much of a deterrent to a desperate regime.

Burkinabe protesters

Burkina Faso‘s constitution states that the head of the National Assembly should take office if the president resigns. Considering that the resignation wasn’t exactly done through constitutional means, it is pointless sticking to the letter of the law.

It is better to abide by the spirit of the  Burkinabe. The head of the National Assembly is part of Compaore’s inner clique, therefore, the constitution is better observed in the breach than in the observance.

The Burkinabe have come too far to resort to the constitution that was an instrument used to oppress them. They have dared to invent the future by shunning the old formulas and choosing the way of mad men.

It is the mad men who normally shape the future and change the world. I want to be one of those men.

The struggle for the Burkinabe continues. I believe they deserve our support in every way in their ongoing struggle against tyrants and rogues.

The latest Burkinabe uprising forms part of a longer history of mass public protests. Burkina Faso is a nation with a very active and strong civil society.

This bodes well in their determination to build a democracy that reflects their aspirations and vision for the future.

Burkinabe protesters

Slowly but surely, mass demonstrations and coups have subtly changed the nature of Burkinabe society. They have forced various regimes to change their policies or make concessions to appease the people.

Thomas Sankara’s revolution remains the most popular example. Its impact spread far beyond the borders of Burkina Faso. Its influence continues to raise the consciousness of Africans and other nations across the world.

Sankara’s Revolution brought with it enormous changes that transformed the socioeconomic structures, cultural practices, women’s liberation and political consciousness.

Democracies by nature are not apocalyptic. Democracies are not the result of philanthropy or enlightenment. Rather, they are the net sum of humanity’s struggle against tryanny and power.

Therefore, they are always evolving. Peaceful, unlawful or violent movements have being at the center of challenging and upsetting the status quo. Sometimes external forces have influenced the outcome of democracies via covert or overt means.

Democracies are built over time. They are shaped by local trade unions, political, individual, civic society, peasant and women’s struggles.

Burkina Faso provides the perfect case study to observe how localised struggles shape a democracy.

Democracy can’t be imported and uploaded into a political system like you upload software into a computer’s hard drive and expect it to operate smoothly.

When a democracy is shaped by local struggles it reflects a local character.

Therefore, an African democracy  should reflect an African character.

Burkinabe protesters

Western democracy works for them because it was shaped over centuries by various struggles in their respective countries which is why their democracies function differently, reflecting their unique characteristics. No two democracies are ever the same.

The greatest mistake Africans ever made was to stop struggling after independence, expecting politicians and others to develop democratic institutions and society. That goes against the development of a democracy.

Consequently, politicians and leaders took advantage of the apathy of the masses to protect their own interests. They developed or retained structures that protected their own interests.

The socialist ideals they preached before independence were forgotten once they became enamoured by the trappings of capitalism.

Therefore, it is essential to reawaken the struggle mentality in Africa to shape the democracy Africans desire.

The Burkinabe are leading in this regard and daring to invent the society they want to live in where they are free and able to realise the envisioned self.

Burkinabe women protesting

For now, it is the military versus the people. I believe the will of the people will triumph no matter what the military try to do to frustrate the people’s aspirations and dreams for the future to determine their destiny.

For once, I commend the African Union’s proactive decision to preempt the situation. It is surprising because they are normally reactive and tend to protect one another hence earning the moniker the Dictator’s Club.

Let us keep our fingers crossed they don’t let the people down.

Aluta Continua! Viva Revolution!

1 Comment

November 8, 2014 · 8:44 pm

12 Lessons From the 31st October Burkinabe Revolution

Burkinabe Protesters with Sankara Placards

In October 1984, the late revolutionary and first president of Burkina Faso, Captain Thomas Sankara, announced during a speech he was making:

Our revolution in Burkina Faso draws on the totality of man’s experiences since the first breath of humanity. We wish to be the heirs of all the revolutions of the world, of all the liberation struggles of the peoples of the Third World. We draw the lessons of the American revolution. The French revolution taught us the rights of man. The great October revolution brought victory to the proletariat and made possible the realization of the Paris Commune‘s dreams of justice.

A week before he was assassinated, he made one of the most profound and prophetic announcements that would cement his philosophy and personality in the hearts and minds of future revolutionaries, Africans and lovers of freedom and justice all over the world.

A week before he was assassinated by a group of soldiers loyal to his friend and comrade, Blaise Compaore, Thomas Sankara announced,  “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.”

These words would come to embody the undying spirit of Thomas Sankara and what he represented. Thomas Sankara understood that no race, people, ethnic group or class had a monopoly on ideas, knowledge, intelligence, strength, etc. These belong to the totality of man’s experience since the beginning of time. His own revolutionary outlook was inspired by the French revolution and American revolution as stated above.

The 31st October Burkinabe Revolution or uprising, or whatever you wish to call it, clearly echoes Sankara’s own thoughts and philosophies. Many commentators who witnessed these recent events immediately evoked memories of the revolution that brought Sankara to power in 1983 alongside the man who was to murder him four years later.

Most commentators who bore witness to these recent events attributed the uprising to the resurrection of Sankara’s spirit. True or false, the revolution was attributed to the lessons the Burkinabe learned from Thomas Sankara‘s 1983 revolution.

It is difficult to dispute that the ideas, the seeds, Sankara implanted while he was alive bore fruit 27 years later to haunt the man who was behind the coup that prematurely ended his dreams and revolutionary programme.

The actions of the Burkinabe echoed the words Sankara made during his speech in October 1984, We wish to be the heirs of all the revolutions of the world, of all the liberation struggles of the peoples of the Third World. They clearly learnt their lessons well and inherited the revolutions that came before them.

Ideas are not the exclusive intellectual property of any one group. We can all draw lessons from the 31st October Burkinabe Revolution.

  1. The most revolutionary force in any society are the poor, downtrodden, youths, women, peasants, the marginalised, the unemployed, the outcasts, the rejects, the marginalised, the minorities, the illiterate, college/ school and university dropouts. They have the least to lose and most to gain. Spiritual and material poverty are a form of death, and so is oppression and exploitation. So dying to free oneself from spiritual and mental death infuses the most revolutionary force in society with life. They become alive. They are resurrected by fighting the cause of their death – oppression and exploitation. And if they lose their lives in the process, their deaths are a politicising factor which serves to rally and inspire their comrades to the fight to the end.

    Burkinabe protesters

    Have no fear of atomic energy coz none of them can stop the times…

  2. The least revolutionary forces in the country are the security forces, the middle class, civil servants and the compradors. These are the reactionary forces. They have the most to lose. They are reactionary forces and their role in society is to protect the interests of capital and preserve the status quo because their aspiration is to earn a few more crumbs that fall from the tables of the tiny political elite. At best, they aspire to be one of them. The reactionary forces are potential exploiters and dictators in hiding. Beware of that brood of vipers.
  3. The iron fist of any dictator is not indestructible. It is human and can be broken. The iron fist, like metal, eventually suffers fatigue. No fist can remain clenched forever. Eventually, the tensile and cyclic loads begin to tell and cracks develop. Various movements, political parties and civic society organisations, individuals, factions and external forces, will tend to pull the fist apart and the various forces vary over time. The fatigue cracks are very slow to develop initially but their rate of growth increases dramatically as the cracks deepen and take root. The top of the crack is accelerated by the stress. The cracks are promoted by the presence of defects in the original socioeconomic and political structural setup. The blemishes increase over time and all the centres that have been poorly drilled or mechanised tend to be the origins of the majority of the cracks. In some cases, it is possible to establish how quickly the crack grew. Sometimes, it is not. In this case, the cracks were apparent for a while. The attampted assassination of Blaise Compaore and increasing protests showed ever widening cracks. Eventually, the fatigue imploded spectacularly on the 31st of October 2014. The iron fist unclenched and fell apart while the nations watched from afar and marvelled how that political harlot, that had fornicated with many nations had fallen spectacularly in one hour.
  4. The ballot is stronger than the bullet but the unflinching will of the people is the strongest. There are many ways to remove a dictator from power. When the ballot and the bullet fail, you can do it the Burkinabe way. Burn the institutions of his power and head for the dictator’s residence and pick him apart limb by limb if you find him. Most of them will flee the moment they hear the people are on the way and they are smashing through the security barricades. Few will risk the wrath of the masses.

    Burkinabe protesters

    People power: Burkinabe protesters gather in Ougadougou to protest against Blaise Compoare attempts to extend his rotten shelf life.

  5. The Law of Reciprocal Action is always at play. This law never acts in isolation, it acts in conjunction with the Law of the Attraction of Homogeneous Species. The later law works on the basis that homogeneous elements are attracted and accumulated. This means they grow during the return motion. Normally people describe this phenomena as you reap what you sow. Whether you believe in a higher being or don’t, we all have a way of explaining this common observation as set out in this law. Some call it karma. Some say, “What man gives that he gets.” Christ’s teachings, “What a man sows that shall he reap!” best encapsulates this. This phenomena is embodied in the physical law of action and reaction. What you do to others will come back to haunt you. So when you are in power or on the ascend don’t look down on those who are not so fortunate because the ups and downs of life are like an escalator where we inevitably meet with others going up and others coming down. Blaise Compaore rose to power spectacularly with Thomas Sankara through a coup. He later ended Thomas Sankara‘s revolution through another coup. This time he was removed by almost similar means in the same month he overthrew Sankara. The material difference is that his life was spared. In addition, his overthrow was his final fall into ignominy. In contrast, Sankara’s overthrow made him one of the greatest African heroes of all time and a political Messiah. In a strange way, their paths keep crossing each other as things return to where they started.
  6. A well drilled and experienced army with the latest armaments cannot stop the will of a determined people. We witnessed the never die attitude of the Burkinabe as they faced and clashed with an army with heavy artillery. They took live rounds for the revolution. They fell for the freedom of their nation. Their deaths were a form of political sacrifice – dying to free their comrades and country from political and socioeconomic oppression, exploitation and French domination. You cannot talk about revolution or change and remain fearful of death. You have to be willing to die if you believe in change and revolution as the Burkinabe have demonstrated.
  7. Once people overcome their fear of death or the system, they are unstoppable. Burkina Faso
  8. Unity is strength. When a people become so united that their can put their political, tribal, social and cultural differences aside, and act together to defend their humane interests, they can overcome the greatest superpower on earth without the need for weapons of mass destruction or heavy artillery. Many political movements in Africa fail because they are driven by the quest for individual power and wealth accumulation. They don’t have the interests of the people or the nation at heart. Their selfish motives lead to the rise of various factions fighting for their own slice of the cake. Even at the decisive moment, they will rather let the country and the people down, if they can’t get their own way. Consequently, they make it impossible to form a coalition of the opposition as we saw in Burkina Faso. They make it impossible to end the ignoble regimes they claim to be fighting. They make it impossible for justice and equal rights to blossom.
  9. The system is flawed and needs to be overhauled. The electorate, the citizens of the nation, have become lethargic and politicians have abused their political apathy. Burkina Faso has taught us that the people capable of changing the country are the youth, the poor peasants, women and all those who are left out of mainstream society. They are the real agents of change. They have taught us that bottom-up solutions are the best rather than top-bottom solutions which haven’t worked since the decolonisation of individual African countries. We need to question our blind faith in these tried and failed solutions. What does that say about the electorate? The electorate, the nation, is its own worst enemy. We haven’t been vigilant enough. We haven’t demanded more from our leaders. We have let them get away with murder. They know it and act with impunity because we won’t react. It is time for a revolution. A revolution that begins with the individual and society and spreads out from the epicentre of the nation in concentric circles spreading outwards. We should stop making excuses for failure. We make excuses for our leaders and their failure to economically, politically and socially transform our nations. We make excuses for poor service delivery by our governments and municipalities. Stop it right now! Stop saying this is Africa! We deserve better. It is our right. Thomas Sankara
  10. The army and security forces rarely act in the interests of the nation. They are extensions of the dictator’s iron fist. Their duty is to keep the citizens cowed in fear through spectacular shows of power. The politicians sleep peacefully at night because these soldiers, this band of robbers and mercenaries, are ready to do violence and abuse human rights on their behalf. Like a mercenary, the soldier is paid to kill. The only difference is that he kills for the state. And he has a uniform. And a gun. He has no conscience. Or he acts like he doesn’t have one. He is prepared to die for the flag but he neither understands nor questions the value he places on a coloured piece of rag made by man. For flag and country, he will oppress and shoot his own countrymen instead of protecting them, simply to continue the domination of the masses by a tiny political elite. In Burkina Faso, we saw the counter revolutionary (security) forces gunning down the masses. Only a few soldiers joined the revolutionaries and supported the masses. These are rare men who have a conscience. The rest are what Thomas Sankara referred to as a solider without any political or ideological training is a potential criminal.” Today, we can see the criminal mentality of the army in Burkina Faso trying to impose their leader and will on the nation. The army and the security forces should never under any circumstance impose their will on the people through the barrel of the gun because they become complicit with the crime committed against humanity. 
  11. When the people turn against you, the end is near. This doesn’t need an extended explanation. Once the people are fed up with anyone, their end is just around the corner. Blaise Compaore earned the wrath of the people by pushing the limits of their frustration and the last insult snapped the people’s patience. They were tired of his bull****.
  12. In the words of Thomas Sankara, “We must dare to invent the future”. We the little people have more power than we acknowledge. However, we have surrendered our power to other people, corrupt leaders and government officials. We leave the fate of our future in their hands even when we can see that they are navigating our Titanic straight into an iceberg. We choose to let them take us to our doom. We choose to let them do the things that we should be doing for ourselves. We choose to let them hijack and screw our future because we have lost all confidence in ourselves. We have surrendered our power to them. However, we must not lose hope. We need to rise up above the miserable conditions that we find ourselves in because we have a positive history. A history of overcoming adversity and inequity. We have developed a stoic approach to wading through the harsh realities of life. We laugh in the face of adversity. We sing and dance in the presence of deep suffering and abject poverty. We remain optimistic in the presence of oppression and exploitation and domination. Now, we must develop hope and the security to be together, to look together, to work together and tackle our problems as one and build a force that cannot be stopped with guns or atomic energy. The Burkinabe have dared to invent the future. Let us dare to follow in their footsteps. Let us dare to shape our vision and reality of the future. The future you and I hope for lies in our hands. It’s our destiny to decide now.

Picture of Thomas Sankara

There is a lot more we can learn from the Burkinabe. Let us continue to follow their progress and be inspired by their brevity. All the societies in the world, throughout the ages and time, have not changed through the philanthropic actions of the most powerful men and women. It is the actions of the oppressed and exploited: the Suffragettes, the Civil Rights Movement, the Liberation Movements, the slave revolts, Civic Society Organisations, peasants and students who have shaped the world. It is time for us to play our part. Let the spirit of Thomas Sankara and example of the Burkinabe be a light guiding us through our own dark hours.

Viva Revolution!


Filed under Under The Spotlight

Sankara’s Spirit, The Upright Man Triumphs

Thomas Sankara

When I wake up and hear that Blaise Compaore has resigned, I know Thomas Sankara is alive. When I switch on the TV and see that Compaore is gone, I know Sankara is alive.

When I see the joyous celebrations and jubilant faces of the Burkinabe, I know there are tens of thousands of Thomas Sankara‘s alive in Burkina Faso.

Compaore the betrayer and murderer of Thomas Sankara has fallen. The Burkinabe Revolution has triumphed.

The express train of Burkinabe anger crushed the iniquity of the security forces and dreams of Compaore under their wheels.

Not only did the brave Burkinabe force the government to be dissolved, but they drove Blaise Compaore out of office. The state of emergency didn’t help him. It didn’t stop the protesters breaking his iron grip on power and prising his fingers from throttling Burkina Faso‘s throat.

Burkinabe protesters

People power: Burkinabe protesters gather in Ouagadougou to protest against Blaise Compoare attempts to extend his rotten shelf life.

As the Burkinabe express bore down on the presidential palace, Compaore fled from the obscene opulence he was accustomed to luxuriating in. Occasionally, that sewer rat tweeted from the hole he took refuge in.

27 years ago, on the 15th of October 1987, Compaore was 36 when he seized power in the coup in which Thomas Sankara, his friend and one of Africa’s most revered leader and revolutionary, was ousted and assassinated.

27 years later, in the same month Compaore ousted Sankara, he has been ousted in October too. Talk about the law of reciprocal action. We have waited for this moment for a long time and feel that justice has been partially done.

Now, we want to know the truth about Sankara’s assassination. Compaore owes the Burkinabe and Africa an explanation for snuffing out one of its shining lights and leaving it in an incomprehensible darkness. He traded freedom for servitude. He traded self reliance for dependence. He sold his soul for a few pieces of silver.

Compaore knew his day was coming and he did everything he could to keep that day at bay. He made the wrong move: he planned a parliamentary vote to change the constitution and allow him to extend his rule and insulate himself from justice.

But the signs were always there. His close friend Muammar Gaddafi was dragged from the sewer by an angry mob who gave him a dose of mob justice. His other cohort ex-Liberian president, Charles Taylor fell from grace too. He was later tried and found guilty of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity.

Maybe they can share a cell together and catch up about old times when they were once in power, looting their countries wealth, ventriloquist dolls for their puppet masters and aiding the looting of Africa.

Thomas Sankara

I do not subscribe to the African Spring moniker some are using to describe the triumph of the new Burkinabe Revolution. They are meaningless phrases.

Let’s not forget what happened to the Arab Spring. It didn’t change anything. If anything, it has left countries like Libya riddled by sectarian violence. It has left stooges in power. Their economy is in tatters and foreign powers shared reconstruction deals to rebuild the country they bombed back into the Stone Age.

The “revolution” in Egypt was reversed by counter revolutionary forces. Any revolution that doesn’t cleanse its structures of the vermin left by the former regime is not a revolution. It is a sitting duck. It is a reactionary movement.

Blaise Compaore is a staunch ally of the French and U.S. They have interests in the region. It is not in their DNA to support regimes that are “hostile” to them. In other words, governments that put their countries and citizens interests above the interests of these imperial powers.

The demonstrators have the upper hand right now. They have to consolidate their power and leave no loopholes for counter revolutionary forces, such as Compaore and other ticks like him, to manoeuvre and suck the blood of the Burkinabe.

We all know how agents of the west were involved in the murder of Patrice Lumumba. His death eerily echoed that of Thomas Sankara. What happened to them can happen again.

Like Sankara, Lumumba refused to remain dependent on the former colonial powers as he stated in his presidential speech. Like Sankara, that decision cost him his life.

Burkina Faso is an ally of the US in West Africa. They are being used to thwart fighters linked to Al Qaida, a group created by US intelligence agencies, operating in the Sahel region.

This will test and challenge the new government. They are doomed if they refuse to join this war because they might be added to the axis of evil or accused of supporting and abetting terrorists. We already know the script and what will happen next.

We heard the obscene noises made by the French. They deplored the violence that resulted in the burning of government buildings and they were calling for restraint.

Restraint is a luxury. It is a comfort that a man or women who has never lived under a dictatorship and oppression their entire life preaches. They lack the urgency of the oppressed. Restraint doesn’t bring about revolutions. It restores the status quo allowing oppression and exploitation to continue as it has for the last twenty seven years in Burkina Faso.

I don’t condone violence. However, retaliation to violence is not the same as initiating it. It is self defence.

The French Revolution was not brought about by practising restraint. It was violent. It was gory. It was savage. It was all out war. The American Revolution was bloody too. Patrick Henry declared in the Virginia Convention in 1775, “give me death or give me liberty”.

You don’t talk about revolution if you are not prepared to die.

One of the greatest theoreticians of the oppressed and revolutions, Frantz Fanon, wrote in the Wretched of the Earth, “National liberation, national reawakening, restoration of the nation to the people or Commonwealth, whatever the name used, whatever the latest expression, decolonization is always a violent event”.

Getting rid of a violent dictator is no different. Violence is the only language they understand. Fanon went on further to say,

“At the individual level, violence is a cleansing force. It rids the colonized of their inferiority complex, of their passive and despairing attitude. It emboldens them, and restores their self-confidence.”

The day those men who once cowed at the sight of the security forces, once they discover that through violence they yield power will affirm its effectiveness. They will wield it like a machete and chop anyone’s head if they get in their way.

They know that they are a member of a powerful life changing force which allows them to believe that they are in charge of their destiny.

Burkinabe protesters

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, None but our self can free our minds. Have no fear for atomic energy, ‘Cause none of them can stop the time. How long shall they kill our prophets, While we stand aside and look?” Bob Marley – Redemption Song

They know that the masses united are more powerful than an army that is no better than a band of well armed mercenaries. They know that they are powerful enough to improve the fate of their comrades and fellow countrymen through combining their power and dedicating their lives to the cause.

The Burkinabe has seized the cause of his oppression and exploitation and ripped out the jugular vein of that beast ravaging society. He is redeemed, and rejuvenated with the exhilaration of action and revolution.

But revolution is not like an apocalypse. It is a dedicated process carried out through mass political education, destruction of the structural pillars of the old regime to build a new foundation from rock bottom.

Revolution is abandoning the old and embracing the new. It is process you cannot go through without tears, blood and pain along the way. It is the rebirth of the new man and woman, in mind and spirit, resulting in the emergence of the envisioned self.

The Burkinabe Revolution is an infant still learning how to crawl. It will take a while before it can walk and run but Thomas Sankara left them a template to follow. They have Sankara’s spirit to learn from. Sankara’s spirit is a beacon to guide them through the dark hours that will come.

Thomas Sankara

The battle is far from won. The counter revolutionary forces are stunned but not fully defeated. They are gathering and regrouping in the background. Their general, General Honore Traore, is currently heading the transition government.

He is very close to Blaise Compaore. And as long as he is in power, the revolution is incomplete. The pathogens of the former regime need to be removed from power to neutralise their power and influence. The Burkinabe need to pick a man who embodies their dreams and aspirations.

That man for them is the former general, Gen Kouame Lougue. It is time for them to decide their destiny. In the words of Thomas Sankara. “We must dare to invent the future”. They have taken the first step and there is still a long way to go.

As long as the comprador’s of the imperialists are in the corridors of power, the struggle continues. ALUTA Continua! As long as the people struggle against exploitation, oppression and French domination, Thomas Sankara is alive.

Viva Revolution! Revolution is the only solution! Sankara lives again!


Filed under Under The Spotlight

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!


Filed under Under The Spotlight

The Upright Man: Captain Thomas Sankara


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”.


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.


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#.


October 16, 2014 · 2:36 am