One of the most impressive attempts for true independence in Africa was undertaken by Thomas Sankara, the charismatic leader of Burkina Faso in West Africa, the former Republic of Upper Volta. Sankara came to power after a series of coups (first one in 1980) on the 4th August 1983. The colonial name of the country was changed into Burkina Faso meaning “Land of the Righteous”.
The aim of his revolutionary rule in his own words: “Our revolution will be of value only if, looking back… and ahead, we are able to say that the Burkinabe people are a little happier because of it. Because they have clean drinking water, because they have plenty to eat, because they are in good health, because they have access to education, because they have decent housing, because they have better clothing, because they have the right to leisure, because they have greater freedom, more democracy and greater dignity… Revolution means happiness. Without happiness we cannot speak of success.”
(From: http://openrevolt.info/2012/04/24/thomas-sankara-burkina-fasos-pure-president/, including a good account of his politics)
Aziz Fall: Revealing Sankara´s Legacy and the Circumstances of his Death
On the 3rd of November a workshop and lecture, organized by the German branch of Africavenir (http://www.africavenir.org/nc/home.html), was held in Berlin by the Senegalese-Egyptian Professor Aziz Fall (http://www.azizfall.com/). He is coordinator of the campaign “Justice for Thomas Sankara” (http://thomassankara.net/spip.php?article876&lang=en).
Professor Fall gave an impressive account of Sankara´s achievements in one of the “poorest” countries of Africa, landlocked and partly in the drought stricken Sahel Zone. Sankara was able to raise a lot of enthusiasm on economic development and self-reliance especially in food and textiles. He guided an impressive effort to develop the infrastructure including a railway project. A very important effort was made to impose equal rights for women. He fought bribery and corruption. He stopped the wasting of recourses for luxury cars of functionaries. Also the ecological measures concerning reforesting cannot be overestimated. One of the most spectacular steps – and most disliked by the West – was his effort to unite African countries in the effort to do away with the imperialist system of depts. He was clear that going this step alone he´d hardly survive. His efforts were clapped at but finally left alone.
Professor Fall also made clear that certain measures were not welcomed by the “higher ranks” of society, especially the traditional “authorities”. In course of time the demanded discipline and sacrifices naturally raised also opposition which was not always met with the appropriate patience and sensibility.
What also clearly came out was the fact that Sankara was outstanding in the consequence for himself: no material privileges! At the end of his life he was as poor as at the beginning of his way, a simple house, an old car and a dusty bike! An enthusiastic witness of Sankara´s work is Jean Ziegler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Ziegler) who states: “It is not important to give more to the people of the Third World but to steal less from them”!
A Danger to Imperialism and Comprador Bourgeoisie “must” die!
Imperialism (and their Third World henchmen) has killed even less radical and much less consequent politicians, and this even in the West. Especially US Imperialism has always followed the principle of “Killing Hope” (as is the title of a brilliant book by William Blum – http://killinghope.org/) and decided to do so in this case as well. Part of the machinations was the notorious Liberian Charles Taylor who “escaped” from a prison in the US. Well informed people have no doubt that Taylor was under CIA “guidance”. The greater “concept” aimed also at Samuel Doe, then the President of Liberia (and in whose government Taylor served as head of Civil Services), at the beginning very much disliked by the West but after some time incorporated into the Empire´s (US) frame before he was finally “to be dropped” by “Big Brother”. Incarcerated twice in Ghana but finally released by Jerry John Rawlings Taylor made his way astonishingly to Libya. Here the story becomes quite multi folded since it seems also Libya´s Gaddafi (http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/comment/45420) was “tricked” into the sketch obviously believing he could use Taylor (who on his side also had to spy Gaddafi´s activities with “troublemakers” in Africa).
The Treacherous “Friend”
Another important part of the plan (mainly by the US and France) to get rid of Sankara was his longtime associate in the revolution and old friend of his family, Blaise Compaoré. Compaoré became more and more hostile to Sankara´s policy and was in touch with the French supported regime in Ivory Coast and he probably introduced Taylor to Gaddafi (http://thomassankara.net/spip.php?article1055). In a “joint venture” with Taylor an armed gang dropped in a meeting Sankara was holding with twelve other officials and killed all of them. Information indicates that Compoaré was among the killers and possibly Taylor with them. Sankara´s body was dismembered and buried at night. Compaoré claimed a “natural death” of his former friend.
The exact circumstances of the assassination and the details of the preparations must be cleared! That is the essence of an initiative in the name of Sankara´s family driven ahead also by Professor Fall (http://thomassankara.net/spip.php?article1243 after all the efforts to hide the whole affair.
Some Remarks in Between by the Author on Gaddafi´s possible involvement
The details about a possible involvement of Gaddafi in the assassination of Sankara make some clarifications necessary. Surely Imperialism has waged another colonial war in Libya last year pushing Libya possibly into the fate of another Somalia and unleashing instability even in Mali, following the strategy of state destruction. This war was waged against Gaddafi´s efforts to maintain certain benefits for the Libyan people and to seriously contribute to Africa´s financial and economic independence. It cannot be totally ruled out that there´s a hidden game to smear Gaddafi with something into which he´d rather been tricked. On the other side Gaddafi´s relationship to Imperialism is multi folded. 1971 he was helping Nimeiri in Sudan to crush a communist upheaval and brought down a plane with one of the leaders (most probably helped with information from the British Secret Service) to be then executed in Sudan. Gaddafi has moved towards the West in the recent years and helped European “Frontex” organization in maltreating African refugees. He even supported former French President Sarkozy for his election campaign. His commitment to Africa was always connected to the determination to have the leading hand and he didn´t hesitate to occupy the Aouzou strip belonging to Chad for a long time. From a Marxist view his positions could be judged quite critical (http://www.marxist.com/nature-of-gaddafi-regime.htm) notwithstanding a fierce condemnation of NATO´s colonial war against Libya.
Aziz Fall, an Upright Anti-Imperialist
Professor Fall delivered a vivid picture of Thomas Sankara´s life and of the achievements the revolution lead by him was bringing for the people of Burkina Faso. He displayed an impressive ability to work out the various levels of socio-political developments. His commitment to liberation and justice is outstanding and not without danger as the threats against his person show (http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/jobs/43776). It was a great pleasure – despite the sad topic – to hear his presentation and to discuss with him.
1) A film showing the development in Bjurkina Faso under Sankara in a quite fair way, leaving important details of Sankara´s assassination out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvBC7tmgFFM
4) Transcription of a strange Italian film interview on Sankara´s death http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/58463
5) On Charles Taylor (involved into Sankara´s assassination): http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hl4M5iTnG-6n2Wvxw0GyDmYksBbQ
6) To be read with caution, since the author´s motives are unclear, but giving some disturbing points: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/03/how-qaddafi-reshaped-africa/71861/
7) A vivid discussion on the implications of the points from the link in (3): http://www.nairaland.com/810110/libya-imperialism-how-libya-almost/1
8) A speech of Aziz Fall on Pan-Africanism: http://kambale.com/aziz-fall-speaks-of-panafricentrism.html