On October 4th, 1984, Thomas Sankara addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was a historical speech, as only he, the great orator, could speak. It was moving, it was strong, and it was good. Below is an extract of his speech. For the whole speech, go to thomassankara.net. Enjoy!!!
“I speak on behalf of the millions of human beings … thrown out of work by a system that is structurally unjust and periodically unhinged, who are reduced to only glimpsing in life a reflection of the lives of the affluent. I speak on behalf of women the world over, who suffer from a male-imposed system of exploitation. … Women who struggle and who proclaim with us that the slave who is not able to take charge of his own revolt deserves no pity for his lot. This harbors…
“If you take a walk around Ouagadougou and make a list of the mansions you see, you will note that they belong to just a minority. How many of you who have been assigned to Ouagadougou from the farthest corners of the country have had to move every night because you’ve been thrown out of the house you have rented? To those who have acquired houses and land through corruption we say: start to tremble. If you have stolen, tremble, because we will come after you”. March 26, 1983
“Aid to Burkina Faso must serve to strengthen not undermine, our sovereignty.” August 1984
“Any African Head of State who comes to New York must first pass through Harlem. This is why we consider that our White House is in Black Harlem.” October 2, 1984
Our ancestors in Africa were actively committed to a certain form of development. We do not want these great African wisemen to be assassinated. 2 octobre 1984 à Harlem
“We propose that the structures of the UN be changed to put an end to the scandal surrounding the right to veto” October 4, 1984
“The greatest difficulty we have faced is the neocolonial spirit that exists in this country. We were colonized by a country, France that left us with certain habits. For us, being successful in life, being happy, meant trying to live as they do in France, like the richest of the French.” March 17, 1985
“We have to work at decolonizing our mentality and achieving happiness within the limits of sacrifice we should be willing to make. We have to recondition our people to accept themselves as they are, to not be ashamed of their real situation, to be satisfied with it, to glory in it, even.” 1985
We need the new school and the new teaching to concur with the birth of patriots and not stateless people. Putting a child in school should stop being conceived as a simple accounting investment, if indeed the ongoing transformation of societies which fall on successive generations has quantifiable elements and non-quantifiable.17 october 1986 Appel de Gaoua on the quality of education. “We too are actors in the international arena, and we have the right to choose a political and economic system true to our aspirations. We have the duty to fight for a more just and more peaceful world, regardless of the fact that we have neither large industrial cartels nor nuclear weapons”. August 27, 1987
“It is always at the side of a woman that we become men again, and every man is a child for every woman.” March 8, 1987
“There are no true social revolution until the woman is liberated. May my eyes never see a society where half of the people is maintained under silence. I hear the racket of this silence of women, I suspect the roar of their storm, I feel the fury of their revolt. I wait and hope for the fertile irruption of the revolution for which they will translate the force and rigorous righteousness coming from their oppressed bowels.”8 mars 1987, Ouagadougou
“The people’s democratic revolution needs a people that is confident and not defeated, a people of conviction and not a subjected people who suffer their fate.”4 août 1987
“I have told myself, either I’ll finish up an old man somewhere in a library reading books, or I’ll meet with a violent end, since we have so many enemies. Once you’ve accepted that reality, it’s just a question of time. It will happen today or tomorrow.” October 8th, 1987
One week after Thomas Sankara made this last remark, he was murdered.
Homeland or death, we will triumph!
These quotes can be found in the book “Thomas Sankara speaks” by Pathfinder Press (1988).
I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Mrs. Mariam Sankara to write this letter, and for her family as well; but to think of the joy they must have felt when Compaoré was booted out of power brings satisfaction, and not tears; to think of the joy they must have felt to know that the Burkinabe people are now rising up, and that a light might now be shed about their husband, father, son, and brother’s assassination to bring them closure. I raise my hat to them, and I thank Mariam Sankara and her entire family, for having lent us Thomas Sankara, for our enlightenment. They made so much sacrifice while he was alive, and now that he is gone, the least we can do, is to express our profound gratitude and support: THANK YOU, and AFRICA will always be with you, and cherish the memory of one of his greatest sons, Thomas Sankara.
Below is the declaration made by Mariam Sankara on the 15 October 1987, this is from ThomasSankara.net. Enjoy!
Mesdames, Mesdemoiselles, Messieurs, Chers amis,
L’assassinat du Président Sankara et de ses compagnons, le 15 Octobre 1987, a interrompu une expérience de développement originale et prometteuse de l’histoire de l’Afrique contemporaine.
Je tiens à vous remercier pour votre soutien à toute la famille Sankara et à moi-même ainsi que pour votre fidélité à la mémoire du Président Thomas Sankara.
A travers sa politique, Thomas a défendu, en donnant lui-même l’exemple, les valeurs essentielles telles que l’intégrité, l’honnêteté, l’humilité, le courage, la volonté, le respect et la justice. En mobilisant les différentes composantes de la société, il s’est battu, de façon acharnée, contre la dette, pour le bien être de tous les burkinabè, la promotion du patrimoine culturel burkinabè et l’émancipation de la femme. Il a incité ses concitoyens à se prendre en charge pour vivre dignement. Bref, il a refusé la soumission au diktat des plus puissants de ce monde, a pris la défense des plus faibles et des plus défavorisés.
Imprégnés de ces valeurs et de ces idées, vous avez, à travers l’insurrection populaire des 30 et 31 octobre 2014, mis fin au régime dictatorial de Compaoré. Cette insurrection a permis au peuple de reprendre la parole pour exiger, entre autres, la fin de l’impunité, la réouverture du dossier de justice sur l’assassinat de Thomas Sankara et ses compagnons, celui de Norbert Zongo et tant d’autres.
La décision prise au Burkina Faso par les autorités de la transition de rendre enfin justice à Thomas Sankara a suscité un immense espoir au Burkina, en Afrique en général et dans le monde. Mais on est toujours dans l’attente de la justice.
La requête de la société civile et des familles est claire. Nous voulons connaître au plus vite les commanditaires et les exécutants de cet assassinat et ceux des autres crimes.
Retarder la quête de vérité, c’est jouer le jeu des assassins de Thomas Sankara et de ses compagnons. Ne pas rendre justice, c’est refuser une sépulture digne pour Thomas Sankara et ses compagnons, c’est empêcher les familles de faire leur deuil.
C’est la raison pour laquelle, le peuple burkinabè et ses amis doivent rester mobilisés et relancer la campagne pour que trente ans après, justice soit enfin rendue à Thomas Sankara et à ses compagnons.
Chers compatriotes, notre famille salue votre initiative visant à ériger un mémorial à la mémoire de Thomas Sankara.
Thomas and Mariam Sankara on their wedding day (Source: Africanglobe.net)
Nous sommes attachés, comme nombre de nos compatriotes, à la défense et à la sauvegarde de la mémoire de Thomas Sankara. Je tiens à saluer cette initiative de la société civile, conduite par l’association CIMTS (Comité International pour le Mémorial Thomas Sankara). Ce projet de Mémorial bénéficie du soutien populaire. Une démarche consensuelle et inclusive devrait permettre de réaliser un ouvrage de qualité qui témoignera de la vitalité des idées de Thomas et de ses fidèles compagnons de la révolution du 4 Août 1983. Toutefois, la famille tient à ce que ce mémorial ne soit pas construit dans l’enceinte du Conseil de l’Entente qui rappelle de douloureux souvenirs en raison des assassinats et des tortures qui ont marqué ce lieu.
Avec toutes ces volontés de valorisation de la mémoire de Thomas observées à travers le monde, on se rend compte avec le temps que Thomas Sankara était un visionnaire. Conscient des actions des détracteurs de la révolution, il savait qu’il était incompris parce qu’il était en avance sur son temps. Il dira alors : « tuez Sankara, des milliers de Sankara naîtront ». Ceci est devenu une réalité. On constate aujourd’hui que la jeunesse s’imprègne de ses idées progressistes pour transformer la société.
Trente après sa disparition, la pensée de Thomas reste vivante et d’actualité.
Encore une fois, je vous félicite pour votre mobilisation et pour votre fidélité à la mémoire du Président Thomas Sankara.
30 ans de résistance !
30 ans d’impunité !
Rendez enfin justice à Thomas Sankara et ses compagnons ainsi qu’à toutes les victimes des crimes impunis !
Today marks the 30-year anniversary of the death of Thomas Sankara, our African Che. The first article I ever wrote on this blog was on Thomas Sankara, Thomas Sankara, The African Che. To me, Thomas Sankara is one of the most charismatic, selfless, dedicated, and beautiful African leaders of all times. And I love his sense of humor, and humility. He may not have had a perfect time in power, but what I am certain of, is the deep love he had for his country, his people, and for the whole of Africa. Imagine, someone who renames his country and people to empower them, from Haute Volta to Burkina Faso, the land of the upright man. I would also like to thank the people running the website entirely dedicated to his memory, thomassankara.net; I raise my hat to them, and their tireless work throughout the years.
After renaming his country Burkina Faso, here are Thomas Sankara’s accomplishments, [after] ONLY 4 YEARS in power (1983–87).
Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (21 December 1949 – 15 October 1987) was a Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara.”
– He vaccinated 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever and measles in a matter of weeks. – He initiated a nation-wide literacy campaign, increasing the literacy rate from 13% in 1983 to 73% in 1987. – He planted over 10 million trees to prevent desertification – He built roads and a railway to tie the nation together, without foreign aid – He appointed females to high governmental positions, encouraged them to work, recruited them into the military, and granted pregnancy leave during education. – He outlawed female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy in support of Women’s rights
– He sold off the government fleet of Mercedes cars and made the Renault 5 (the cheapest car sold in Burkina Faso at that time) the official service car of the ministers. – He reduced the salaries of all public servants, including his own, and forbade the use of government chauffeurs and 1st class airline tickets. – He redistributed land from the feudal landlords and gave it directly to the peasants. Wheat production rose in three years from 1700 kg per hectare to 3800 kg per hectare, making the country food self-sufficient. – He opposed foreign aid, saying that “he who feeds you, controls you.”
– He spoke in forums like the Organization of African Unity [Thomas Sankara Speech on Debt and Unity] against continued neo-colonialist penetration of Africa through Western trade and finance. • He called for a united front of African nations to repudiate their foreign debt. He argued that the poor and exploited did not have an obligation to repay money to the rich and exploiting.[Thomas Sankara’s Speech at the United Nations / Discours de Thomas Sankara aux Nations Unies] – In Ouagadougou, Sankara converted the army’s provisioning store into a state-owned supermarket open to everyone (the first supermarket in the country). – He forced civil servants to pay one month’s salary to public projects. – He refused to use the air conditioning in his office on the grounds that such luxury was not available to anyone but a handful of Burkinabes.
– As President, he lowered his salary to $450 a month and limited his possessions to a car, four bikes, three guitars, a fridge and a broken freezer. – A motorcyclist himself, he formed an all-women motorcycle personal guard. – He required public servants to wear a traditional tunic (the Faso Dan Fani), woven from Burkinabe cotton and sewn by Burkinabe craftsmen. (The reason being to rely upon local industry and identity rather than foreign industry and identity) – When asked why he didn’t want his portrait hung in public places, as was the norm for other African leaders, Sankara replied “There are seven million Thomas Sankaras.” – An accomplished guitarist, he wrote the new national anthem himself.
In view of recent events in Burkina Faso, and to continue our fight for democracy, for equal rights, for the right of a nation to choose its leaders without military/external forces dictating it, I live you with a quote by President Thomas Sankara, president of Burkina Faso. It was previously published in a “prayer for Cote d’Ivoire.” As the quote goes:
La patrie ou la mort nous vaincrons!
Telle était la devise de Thomas Sankara, notre grand Che africain, ce grand maitre de la révolution Burkinabé, le president du Faso. Telle est la devise que nous nous devons de garder dans nos coeurs en ce moment pour le Burkina Faso: savoir que nous nous battons pour notre liberté, pour notre patrie, pour la seule terre que le bon Dieu a bien voulu nous donner! Amandla!… Ngawethu!
Homeland or death, we shall overcome!
Such was the motto of Thomas Sankara, our great African Che, this great master of the Burkinabe revolution, the president of Burkina Faso. This is the motto that we must keep in our hearts for Burkina Faso right now: to know that we are fighting for our freedom, for our country, for the only land God ever gave us! Amandla! …Ngawethu! Power to the People!
Patria o muerte, venceremos!
Tal era el lema de Thomas Sankara, nuestro gran Che de África, este gran maestro de la revolución de Burkina Faso, el presidente de Burkina Faso. Este es el lema que debemos tener en nuestros corazones para Burkina Faso en este momento: saber que estamos luchando por nuestra libertad, para nuestro país, por la tierra sólo Dios nunca nos dio! Amandla!… Ngawethu!
Pátria ou morte, venceremos!
Esse foi o lema de Thomas Sankara, o nosso grande Africano Che, este grande mestre da revolução burkinabe, o presidente do Burkina Faso. Este é o lema que devemos ter em nossos corações para Burkina Faso agora: saber que estamos lutando por nossa liberdade, para o nosso país, para a única terra que Deus já nos deu! Amandla!… Ngawethu!
Like every year, I have to tell you about the good things that happen in Africa, and all the things we celebrated. Here are 10 of them.
1. I have to say it again: Blaise Compaore’s demotion. Blaise Compaoré was booted out of office in 2014. Thomas Sankara‘s murderer taught that he will be eternal in power, and on October 30th 2014, the people of Burkina Faso said ENOUGH!
2. Presidential Elections finally took place in Tunisia, 3 years after Ben Ali‘s toppling at the beginning of the ‘Arab Spring’, and the election of the people’s choice as president: Beji Caid Essebsi. We are glad the people of Tunisia’s choice was respected.
3. Mrs Catherine Samba-Panza was sworn in as interim president of the Central African Republic on 23 January 2014. She was chosen as a neutral person to lead the country of the conflict that rages in the area; she is the first woman appointed in such a position in the history of the country.
4. For the first time in the history of Cycling, there was an African team competing in a great race. 6 Africans (two Erithreans and 4 South Africans) ran in Spain for the South African team, MTN-Qhubeka.
5. Two African teams advancing into the last round of 16 at the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup: namely, Nigeria and Algeria. Even though both teams were eliminated in the last round of 16, Algeria particularly put up a good fight against Germany (who went on to win the World Cup) and made us proud.
6. The African version of Robocop designed by two female engineers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of them being Thérèse Inza. This is a traffic cop who regulates the traffic, and even gives tickets to the cab drivers, and those who do not want to follow the code of the road.
7. There were 3 Africans nominated at the Oscars in main categories this year: Chiwetel Ejiofor(Nigeria) in the ‘Best Actor’ category, Barkhad Abdi (Somalia) in the ‘Best Actor in a Supporting role’ category and Lupita Nyong’o (Kenya) in the ‘Best Actress in a Supporting role’ category. Lupita made us proud by winning the Academy Award for ‘Best Actress in a Supporting role’ for her role in 12 Years a Slave. She was also named the ‘Most beautiful Woman’ by People magazine (I never really understood that People Magazine award: as if they had searched through the 3.5Billion women in the world before giving this award!) and ‘Woman of the Year’ in Glamour, and was announced as the ‘New Face’ of Lancôme, a first for a Black woman.
8. Nigeria became Africa’s # 1 economy after rebasing its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 1990 to 2010 constant prices. Nigeria just surpassed South Africa as Africa’s top economy, and the world’s 26th largest economy.
10. George Weah, the only African to have won a FIFA World Player of the Year (in 1995) and won Ballon d’Or, won a senate seat in Liberia yesterday Dec. 29th. The 2005 presidential contender (he had won the first round of the elections then) of Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf won the senate elections against Robert Sirleaf (President Johnson-Sirleaf’s son). This was a landslide victory; it is a step forward, and progress is always to be acclaimed!
15 jours et 27 ans, après avoir fait assassiner Thomas Sankara, Blaise Compaoré est à son tour forcé ou plutot jeté dehors. En effet, c’était le 15 Octobre 1987 que Thomas Sankara était assassiné par des hommes de Compaoré. Donc le fameux Compaoré est tombé le 30 Octobre 2014. Comme on le dit si bien, quiconque se sert de l’épée perira par l’épée. Maintenant, notre voeu le plus cher est que cette révolution populaire ne soit pas confisquée par l’armée qui est constituée d’hommes de Compaoré, et des bras de la France. Bye Bye Compaoré.
15 days and 27 years, after having murdered Thomas Sankara, Blaise Compaoré is in his turn forced to resign or rather booted out of office. On 15 Octobre 1987 that Thomas Sankara was murdered by men of Compaoré. Now, Compaoré himself fell on 30 October 2014. As it so well said, anyone who uses the sword, will die by the sword. Now, our hope is that the people’s revolution will not be hijacked by the army who are Compaoré’s men and France’s men. Bye Bye Compaoré.
Here is the complete text of a hand-written speech that the revolutionary Burkina Faso President and African statesman Thomas Sankara was set to deliver on the evening of the day he was assassinated, October 15, 1987. Enjoy this rare jewel! The original in French is on ThomasSankara.net, while the translated English version appeared on Pambazuka.
The Revolution’s prestige, and the confidence with which the masses have devoted themselves, has suffered a serious shock. The consequences are a remarkable decline in enthusiasm for the revolution amongst activists, a serious decrease in the commitment, determination, and mobilization of our grassroots base; finally, distrust and suspicion everywhere and factionalism amongst our leadership.
What are the causes of this?
There are, on one hand, significant questions which could divide us pertaining to the operating structures and the internal functioning of the CNR based on ideological positions. On the other hand, there are questions regarding the relationships between the principal actors, as each of us is a leader. However, as important as ideological and organisational questions are, they are shown to be less important in our current situation. Indeed, at the soul of any organisation, there is a clash of opposites followed by union of these same opposites. The unity of these opposites is always academic, it is never absolute; it is both relative and temporary. “The unity of opposites is consequently an absolute, exactly as development and motion are absolutes”. This is why balance itself is temporary. It can be questioned at any time. It is our responsibility to preserve it as long as possible, to restore it each time it has been threatened or broken. In the case of organizational and ideological questions, we have benefited each time that someone considered it necessary to raise an opinion different from mine, to defend a position different than mine; you did this with freedom and confidence. These I have adopted and implemented, along with advice, suggestions, and recommendations. Moreover, resolution of disputes between men is always simple when trust exists. This means that as long as the revolution is governed by principles, open debate, criticism and self-criticism, it will succeed in resolving any misunderstandings, provided that trust is maintained. Continue reading “Thomas Sankara: the Speech he would have given on 15 Oct 1987”→