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Thomas Sankara the upright man.Pan-Africanist Theorist, And President Of Burkina Faso

Posted by Reunionblackfamily. on June 15, 2013 at 12:20 PM

 

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Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (December 21, 1949 – October 15, 1987) was a Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, Pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Viewed as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as "Africa's Che Guevara."


In his famous speech at the Organisation of African Unity, July 1987, related to historical origin of african debt, he expressed strong opposition to repayment of Africa's debt and interests that still oppresses freedom and development of African countries

Sankara seized power in a 1983 popularly supported coup at the age of 33, with the goal of eliminating corruption and the dominance of the former French colonial power. He immediately launched the most ambitious program for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent. To symbolize this new autonomy and rebirth, he even renamed the country from the French colonial Upper Volta to Burkina Faso ("Land of Upright Men"). His foreign policies were centered around anti-imperialism, with his government eschewing all foreign aid, pushing for odious debt reduction, nationalizing all land and mineral wealth, and averting the power and influence of the IMF and World Bank. His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritizing education with a nation-wide literacy campaign, and promoting public health by vaccinating 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever and measles. Other components of his national agenda included planting over ten million trees to halt the growing desertification of the Sahel, doubling wheat production by redistributing land from feudal landlords to peasants, suspending rural poll taxes and domestic rents, and establishing an ambitious road and rail construction program to "tie the nation together." Moreover, his commitment to women's rights led him to outlaw female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy; while appointing females to high governmental positions and encouraging them to work outside the home and stay in school even if pregnant.

 

In order to achieve this radical transformation of society, he increasingly exerted authoritarian control over the nation, eventually banning unions and a free press, which he believed could stand in the way of his plans and be manipulated by powerful outside influences. To counter his opposition in towns and workplaces around the country, he also tried corrupt officials, counter-revolutionaries and "lazy workers" in peoples revolutionary tribunals. Additionally, as an admirer of Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution, Sankara set up Cuban-style Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs).

 

His revolutionary programs for African self-reliance as a defiant alternative to the neo-liberal development strategies imposed by the West, made him an icon to many of Africa's poor. Sankara remained popular with most of his country's impoverished citizens. However his policies alienated and antagonised the vested interests of an array of groups, which included the small but powerful Burkinabé middle class, the tribal leaders whom he stripped of the long-held traditional right to forced labour and tribute payments, and the foreign financial interests in France and their ally the Ivory Coast. As a result, he was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d'état led by the French-backed Blaise Compaoré on October 15, 1987. A week before his execution, he declared: "While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas."

Thomas Sankara Assassination And Origin Of Africa's Debt

Sankara has carried out considerable initiatives for improvement of agriculture, education and women's right.

Under his presidency from 1983 to 1987, Sankara managed a successful recovery in just 4 years of Burkina Faso oppressed by constant hunger and poverty through exploitation of limited resources that this poor country could offer.

In his famous speech at the Organisation of African Unity, July 1987, related to historical origin of african debt, he expressed strong opposition to repayment of Africa's debt and interests that still oppresses freedom and development of African countries.

 

He clearly identified former African colonizers as today's debt enslavers of Africa.

 

"If Burkina Faso stands alone in its refusal to pay the debt, I am not going to be here at the next Conference". On 15 October 1987, less than three months after his speech, after a decisive confrontation with French President François Mitterrand, Thomas Sankara was assassinated.

 

Reason? Because of his fight against social, financial, economical and political exploitation, he recognized that the mechanism of debt and debt repayment brings into question the very sovereignty of indebted countries, he knew that conditions attached to international "creditors" of funny money have disastrous consequences for African economy. "The debt cannot be repaid. If we do not pay, our creditors will not die. We can be sure of that. On the other hand, if we pay, it is we who will die. Of that we can be equally sure".

 

Thomas Sankara who realised that debt was a fundamental obstacle to the development of the African continent, ex president of Burkina Faso, was murdered at the age of 38 years, leaving his wife, children and a country that quickly returned into poverty and pain.

 

History has proven he was right in insistence that Africa shouldn't repay it's debt.

 

Debt is also the result of confrontation. When we are told about economic crisis, nobody says that this crisis didn’t come about suddenly. The crisis had always been there but it got worse each time that popular masses become more and more conscious of their rights against exploiters". Thomas Sankara Addis Adebba, July 1987.

He launched the most ambitious program for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent. To symbolize this new autonomy and rebirth, he even renamed the country from the French colonial "Upper Volta" to "Burkina Faso" ("Land of Upright Men"). Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north; Niger to the east; Benin to the southeast; Togo and Ghana to the south; and Ivory Coast to the southwest.

His foreign policies were centered around anti-imperialism, with his government eschewing all foreign aid, pushing for odious debt reduction, nationalizing all land and mineral wealth, and averting the power and influence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritizing education with a nation-wide literacy campaign, and promoting public health by vaccinating 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever, and measles.

Other components of his national agenda included planting over ten million trees to halt the growing desertification of the Sahel, doubling wheat production by redistributing land from feudal landlords to peasants, suspending rural poll taxes and domestic rents, and establishing an ambitious road and rail construction program to "tie the nation together". On the localized level Sankara also called on every village to build a medical dispensary and had over 350 communities construct schools with their own labor. Moreover, his commitment to women's rights led him to outlaw female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy, while appointing females to high governmental positions and encouraging them to work outside the home and stay in school even if pregnant. "



Categories: Africa, World, Revolutionary.

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1 Comment

Reply Fidel Tee
12:18 PM on February 17, 2014 
It is no secret that by murdering Thomas Sankara(The Teacher), Blaise Campaore destroyed the whole of Africa. He and his accomplices must be held responsible for a huge chunk of Africa's problems today. Every group: Women's Emancipation, Debt Relief Organizations, Freedom of Speech, etc must rise up against this cankerworm and his French stooges. The French coaxed Campaore into a business he himself cannot handle, no wonder, after 27 years in power, the only changes that we see in Burkina Faso are the numerous bank accounts that he has. Such men should be taken to the guillotine!!
apropos of The Teacher, we will continue to follow his philosophy until Africa sees the light of the day.