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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.

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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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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!

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