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Kribsoo Diallo

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Pan-Africanism is not a concept that easily lends itself to definition. It is a journey. For me, what is important is to understand and underscore the point that this journey has brought us to the point where the talk of the unity of African states is no longer sneered at by cynics or seen as a dream but as something that can happen in our life time. Pan-Africanism for me is an idea of collective understanding of what binds us as Africans not Tanzanian, Nigerian, Congolese, Sudanese or Egyptian but as Africans with a common bond, how we intend to conduct our affairs in today’s globalized world and how we should work together to address our common problems. The idea of a common front against exploitation, degradation, abuse, racism, colonial exploitation and various forms of slavery led to the birth of the Pan-African movement as we know it today.

 

As we struggle to build a Union of African States, it is imperative that we revisit this concept from a political and radical perspective. After all, Pan-Africanism is partly a response to the way Africa and Africans have been treated within the global world since the Berlin Conference of 1884 which divided Africa into tiny enclaves for the benefit of European monarchs and their hangers on. Unlike other contending ideologies Pan-Africanism was ‘developed by outstanding African scholars, political scientists, historians and philosophers living in Africa ’. It was conceived in the womb of Africa. It is a product made in Africa by Africans. The objectives of Pan-Africanism have changed over time but not the essence. For instance while the Pan-Africanist Movement of the early years was concerned with anti-racism, anti-colonialism as spearheaded by Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Ahmed Sekou Toure (Guinea) and the founding fathers of the Pan African movement; it is now mainly focused on the actual political unification of Africa. Kwame Nkrumah argued that ‘the independence of Ghana was meaningless unless it was linked up with the total liberation of the African continent.’

For Nkrumah, Ghana’s sovereignty was secondary to the pursuit of the Pan-African dream. So deep was his commitment that all independent states in Africa should work together to create a Union of African States that he was willing to sacrifice Ghana’s pursuit of national sovereignty. On the eve of Ghana’s independence on 6 March 1957 Nkrumah declared that so deep was Ghana’s ‘faith in African unity that we have declared our preparedness to surrender the sovereignty of Ghana in whole or in part in the interest of a Union of African States and Territories as soon as ever such a union becomes practicable. Ghana started this process by creating an anti-imperialist front called the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union of radical African leaders. In his books Kwame Nkrumah further reminded all Africans that imperialism had so thoroughly distorted and disarticulated African social formations that only continental unity could save the region from further deterioration.

 

In Africa Must Unite (1963) Nkrumah enunciated a clear agenda for the establishment of an African common market to complement the Union of African States and Nkrumah argued:

‘The unity of Africa and the strength it would gather from continental integration of its economic and industrial development, supported by a united policy of non-alignment, could have a most powerful effect for world peace.’

This position was supported by various West African nationalist leaders like Nnamdi Azikiwe (Nigeria), Modibo Keita (Mali) and Sekou Toure (Guinea). However, this version of Pan-Africanism was not without enemies. Nkrumah’s legacy is still very much a part of the ongoing efforts of the peoples of Africa and the world who seek genuine freedom from colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism. We all know the Allegations of American involvement in the putsch arose almost immediately because of the well-known hostility of the U.S. to Nkrumah’s socialist orientation and pan-African activism. Nkrumah himself implicated the U.S. in his overthrow, and warned other African nations about what he saw as an emerging pattern:

“An all-out offensive is being waged against the progressive, independent states,” he wrote in Dark Days in Ghana his 1969 account of the Ghana coup “All that has been needed was a small force of disciplined men to seize the key points of the capital city and to arrest the existing political leadership.” “It has been one of the tasks of the C.I.A. and other similar organizations,” he noted, “to discover these potential quislings and traitors in our midst and to encourage them, by bribery and the promise of political power, to destroy the constitutional government of their countries.”

                While charges of U.S. involvement are not new, support for them was lacking until 1978, when anecdotal evidence was provided from an unlikely source, a former CIA case officer, John Stockwell, who reported first-hand testimony in his memoir, In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story. “The inside story came to me,” Stockwell wrote, “from an egotistical friend, who had been chief of the [CIA] station in Accra [Ghana] at the time.” (Stockwell was stationed one country away in the Ivory Coast). The Subsequent investigations by The New York Times and Covert Action Information Bulletin identified the station chief as Howard T. Banes, who operated undercover as a political officer in the U.S. Embassy. This is how the ouster of Nkrumah was handled as Stockwell related. The Accra station was encouraged by headquarters to maintain contact with dissidents of the Ghanaian army for the purpose of gathering intelligence on their activities. It was given a generous budget, and maintained intimate contact with the plotters as a coup was hatched. So close was the station’s involvement that it was able to coordinate the recovery of some classified Soviet military equipment by the United States as the coup took place.

 

Today, globalization is a truth which we have to live with. But today globalization has not led to the breakdown of national boundaries it re-enforced them, allowing those with the military, economic power and resources to try and re-arrange global affairs to suit their national interest. Neo-liberalism and neo-colonialism are the new instruments which pass off as globalization and to me globalization is nothing but a new form of re-colonization in which western powers justify their continued dominance using economic and humanitarian arguments as further attempts to consolidate their stranglehold of the continent. Under the guise of ‘humanitarian intervention’ the new global powers can invade and blockade any country within their orbit and when this fails and they resort to the use of international institutions and courts where the European Union has united Europe in both a political and economic sense. Where this is not enough it uses global military alliances like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to enforce its rule by other means. On the other hand, Africa which requires this Union to protect its interests globally is still foot dragging while the masses of African people continue to wallow in the ‘quagmire of underdevelopment, poverty, endless border wars, economic domination, the dictatorship of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

 

This problem is further exacerbated by the type of leadership whose interests is sometimes anti national and We must challenge authoritarian rule, mismanagement, poor leadership and the lack of accountability of our leaders and public institutions. It is the historic duty to Africa for all Africans to do so and it is also the only way to help address the perennial problems of underdevelopment, poverty, deprivation and the poor deplorable state of our infrastructure when a lot of resources go to private sources. But we must also have the courage of our founding fathers, the pioneers of Pan-Africanism and African liberation, to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy that holds the view that corruption and authoritarianism is a typical African problem. This stems from the colonial mind-set, allowing international institutions to target African leaders, haul them off to some foreign jail under the guise of answering for impunity. It is inconceivable that the US or Britain will act similarly.

 

This means that African activists need to reappraise and carefully reflect on the sort of activities which passes off as advocacy and campaigning while fueling anti African actions nationally and globally.  Africa’s shameless dependence on the West, the unproductive disposition of our elite to foreign inspired theories and ideas, the wanton abuse of human rights, the appropriation of state power and its resources and hostility to popular and progressive forces have not helped Africa to propel Africa’s glory. Even today Africa remains a continent for denigration, racist jokes, pity and exploitation. The negative stereotyping of Africa in the western media remains a durable part of the Western intellectual landscape Jokes about African leaders abound in the bars and conference halls of westerners with Africans providing the laughter. Even today some westerners still regard Africa as a wild dark jungle largely preserved to satisfy the lecherous and erotic dreams and fantasies of American and European tourist. Africa remains the huge laboratory preserved to satisfy the academic curiosity of European and American scholars with the instability, wars, and strange tales of administrative and political blunders. The personalities of dictators like Nguema, Idi Amin, Kamuzu Banda, Jean Bedel-Bokassa, and Mobutu Sese Seko provide intriguing patterns and models for research into the African personality and idiosyncrasies. But for Pan-Africanism to remain relevant to African lives the creation of the Union of African States should go beyond state-to-state relations and permeate to the people of Africa who by no means would like to live in peace and harmony with each other.

 

African Union meetings should cease being a meeting of presidents and their accolades including a few select civil society groups When African mothers, market women, farmers, traditional queens, birth attendants, etc. get to attend an African union meeting to put before our leaders, the sort of deplorable lives they lead, it would be a major step. Why should African children be transported to New York and not Gaborone, Cairo, Nairobi or Harare? Why are we always complaining that Western media is not reporting African stories? As if being reported by them validates our worth, We NEED to start reading news about Africa not Western media outlets but African media outlets, journalists, bloggers! Support our own! I have argued over and over again that Africa needs first fundamental transformation of the national orders. This transformation has to be people-led, democratic, self-reliant, credible, and viable. Once this is achieved, it will be possible to transform the continent through a continent-wide political agenda arising naturally from the national reconstruction projects and people to people initiatives.

 

Africa needs solidarity we must learn to support each other. Revisiting the Pan Africanism leader’s legacy will provide us with the opportunity to understand the modus operandi of those forces that trot the globe preaching democracy on the world stage but use proxy wars and propaganda to silence and remove leaders who are critical of their unorthodox methods and install puppet regimes sympathetic to their interests.

This is to influential women in our history who have left their marks in their respective industries. These women were great. Their courage surpassed their fear and they held steadfast in their fight for justice and equality for the human race.

The names of African women who made history are relatively unknown or do not come readily to mind as of African male heroes. They should not become forgotten in the annals of Pan-African history. This article is in honor of the powerful and great women who helped shaped the future of Africans.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (1900–1978) was a leading activist during Nigerian women’s anti-colonial struggles. She founded the Abeokuta Women’s Union, one of the most impressive women’s organizations of the twentieth century (with a membership estimated to have reached up to 20,000 women) which fought to protect and further the rights of women.

 

Taytu Betul

Taytu Betul (c.1851–1918) was a formidable queen and empress of Ethiopia. An astute diplomat, she proved to be a key figure in thwarting Italian imperialist designs on Ethiopia. Later, she and her husband Emperor Menelik II, led a huge army to battle at Adwa, where they won one of the most important victories of any African army against European colonialist aggression.

 

 Huda Shaarawi

Huda Shaarawi (1879–1947) was a pioneer Egyptian feminist leader and nationalist. She helped to organize Mubarrat Muhammad Ali, a women’s social service organization, in 1909 and the Intellectual Association of Egyptian Women in 1914. Her feminist activism was complemented by her involvement in Egypt’s nationalist struggle. She established the Egyptian Feminist Union in 1923, was founding president of the north of Africa Feminist Union and spoke widely on women’s issues and concerns throughout the Middle East and Africa.

 

Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai (1940–2011) was a Kenyan scholar and environmental activist. She founded the pioneering Green Belt Movement in 1977, which encourages people, particularly women, to plant trees to combat environmental degradation. Her holistic approach eventually led her to link environmental responsibility to political struggles of governance, human rights and peace. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.

 

 Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana

Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana (1863–1898) was a female spiritualist leader from Mashonaland, Zimbabwe and a key leader in the First Chimurenga, or ‘the war of liberation’, against British colonial settlers in 1896–1897. She was considered to be the female incarnation of the oracle spirit Nehanda. After being captured by the British, she predicted that her spirit would lead the second Chimurenga against the British, which eventually culminated in the independence of present-day Zimbabwe.

 

Nzinga Mbandi

Njinga Mbandi (1581–1663), Queen of Ndongo and Matamba, defined much of the history of seventeenth-century Angola. A deft diplomat, skilful negotiator and formidable tactician, Njinga resisted Portugal’s colonial designs tenaciously until her death in 1663.

 

 Yaa Asantewaa

(1840–1921) was an ‘Edwesohemaa’, a queen mother of the Edweso tribe of the Asante in modern day Ghana. In March 1900, she led an army of thousands in the Yaa Asantewaa War for Independence against the British colonial forces in Ghana. Despite mounting a strong attack, she was defeated in 1901 by the British and exiled to the Seychelles where she spent two decades until her death in October 1921.

 

The women soldiers of Dahomey

Elite troops of women soldiers contributed to the military power of the Kingdom of Dahomey in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Admired in their country and feared by their adversaries, these formidable warriors never fled from danger. The troops were dissolved following the fall of Behanzin (Gbêhanzin), the last King of Dahomey, during French colonial expansion at the end of the nineteenth century.

 

 Yennega

Yennega, an emblematic figure in Burkina Faso, was the mother of Ouedraogo, the founder of the dynasties of the Moose chieftains. She is thought to have lived between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Weary of the warrior role in which she had been cast by her father, the King of Gambaga, she ran away and met a solitary hunter. A legendary figure in West Africa, Yennega is the epitome of the female warrior, a free and independently minded woman.

 

 Aoua Keïta

Aoua Keita (1912 – 1980) was an award winning Malian independence activist and writer. Born in Bamako, she was admitted into Bamako’s first girls’ school in 1923. She later obtained a diploma in midwifery. She was a member of the African Democratic Rally (RDA) In 1959 she became a Member of Parliament, the first woman in Africa to be elected to the assembly governing her country.

 

Angie Elisabeth Brooks

Angie Elisabeth Brooks (1928–2007) was born in Virginia, Liberia, and was a diplomat and jurist. In 1969, Brooks was chosen to become President of the United Nations General Assembly, the first African woman to hold this position. She was also appointed the first female Associate Justice of the Liberian Supreme Court. Brooks held several degrees including Doctor of Law degrees from Shaw University, Howard University and Liberia University.

 

Cesária Évora

Cesária Évora (1941–2011) was an award-winning musician from Cape Verde, singing ‘morna’. She was known as the ‘barefoot diva’ because of her tendency to appear on stage in her bare feet in support of the homeless and poor women and children of her country. In 2003, she was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album for Voz D’Amor.

 

 Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba (1932–2008) was an award-winning singer and political activist born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was one of the most visible opponents of the apartheid regime, resulting in the revocation of her South African citizenship by the regime due to her activism. She toured internationally and collaborated with artists including Harry Belafonte with whom she won a Grammy award

 

Queen Nanny

 

Queen Nanny was an eighteenth-century leader, warrior and spiritual adviser. Born in 1686 in present-day Ghana, Western Africa, she was sent as a slave to Jamaica, where she became leader of the Maroons, a group of runaway Jamaican slaves. She is believed to have led attacks against British troops and freed hundreds of slaves. She was also known as a powerful Obeah practitioner of folk magic and religion. She continues her legacy with her portrait gracing the Jamaican $500 bank note.

 

Mulatto Solitude

In May 1802, while a few months pregnant, the Mulatto Solitude took part in the Guadeloupian uprisings against the reinstatement of Lacrosse, who had been appointed Captain-General of Guadeloupe by Napoleon Bonaparte and expelled in October 1801 following a coup by the army’s officers of color. After her arrest, Solitude was imprisoned and subsequently tortured, possibly to death, a day after giving birth. Solitude symbolizes all Caribbean women and mothers who fought for equality and freedom from slavery.

 

 Luiza Mahin

Luiza Mahin, born at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was an Afro-Brazilian freedom fighter. A natural leader, Mahin became involved in revolts and uprisings of slaves in the Brazilian province of Bahia. A street vendor by profession, she used her business as a distributory cell for messages and leaflets in the resistance struggle. She played a central role in the significant “Revolta dos Males” (1835) and “Sabina” (1837-1838) slave rebellions.

 

Gisèle Rabesahala

As a celebrated Malagasy woman politician of the twentieth century, Gisèle Rabesahala (1929-2011) devoted her life to her country’s independence, human rights and the freedom of peoples. She was a journalist and political activist who founded the newspaper Imongo Vaovao. The first Malagasy woman to be elected as a municipal councilor (1956) and political party leader (1958), and to be appointed minister (1977), she is regarded as a pioneer in Malagasy politics.

 

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth (c.1797-1883) was a leading activist, speaker and teacher at the forefront of the African-American struggle for civil rights. Resolutely non-sectarian, she acted as a bridge between issues such as women’s rights, abolition, and religious freedom. Her astute exploitation of her reputation, through photography and print, helped her to become one of the most well-known orators of the nineteenth century.

Salute all women out there making a difference and trying to bring about effective change to their various societies.

 

 

Nubians are a people from northern Sudan and southern Egypt with a long and proud history. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, many Nubians migrated to remote areas along the Nile. In the 1960s, they faced cultural disintegration when their villages were flooded by the Aswan High Dam, which was constructed on the first cataract of the Nile River between 1960 and 1970.

 
Thousands of Indigenous Nubian people who live along the Nile River could lose their ancestral land, livelihood and culture due to the construction of the new Kajbar dam. The Chinese company Sinohydro, probably the world´s largest hydropower company, announced it had won a $705 million contract to build the Kajbar dam hydropower project for a period of five years. The Kajbar Dam lies along the Nile River in an area inhabited by the indigenous Nubian people who for centuries have lived along the shores of the Nile River but the construction of a hydropower project by the Chinese Company threatens to tore apart their rich culture and traditions that they have preserved for years. Construction of dams along the Nile River by Sudanese and the Egyptian government has seen displacement of thousands of the Nubian community who up to date live in asbestos roofed houses in the country´s semi-arid areas.

 

                                  In the 1960´s, around 120, 000 Nubian people were displaced from their ancestral lands in Sudan and Egypt for the construction of the Aswan Dam. Within Sudan the community was moved to an irrigation scheme 700 kilometers away thus blocking them from practicing traditional cultures and rites. Since the announcement of the construction of the Kajbar Dam on the Nile´s third cataract was made, tension has gripped the Nubian people who have vowed to oppose the intended construction. The Nubians fear that construction of the Dam would lead to displacement, extinction of their language and culture as they could be relocated hundreds of kilometers away from their main source of livelihood.

“We will never allow any force on the earth to blur our identity and destroy our heritage and nation. Nubians will never play the role of victims, and will never sacrifice for the second time to repeat the tragedy of the Aswan Dam,” says a member of the Nubian Association.

The Nubian community started opposing the construction of the Dam as early as 2007 immediately after the government announced plans to construct several dams along the Nile River. The committee cited that they were not consulted as the ancestral owners of the land and such an investment on their land would amount to violation of their human and land rights. In 1954 the Egyptian government and Sudanese government signed an agreement to build the High Dam which surrounds the Sudanese Nubian Indigenous land with the establishment and release of the water from the High Dam, the Indigenous Nubians living in Old Haifa were forcibly displaced and driven to the city now known as New Haifa in Eastern Sudan in 1964.

The Aswan High Dam, completed in 1970, partially flooded the Philae Temple until this structure was moved to higher ground to avoid the flood waters.

This new area, that the Indigenous Nubian from Old Haifa were forcibly displaced onto, had a completely different climate. The land was vast but the water was scarce so another dam was built, the Khash Algrba Dam in New Haifa, to bring water to the people. With this on their minds, the few remaining Nubians on the shores of the Nile River fear that they might be subjected to the same conditions as those of Old Haifa who continue to face a myriad of challenges in their new land. Though the government has continued to support this community to adapt to their new land, new challenges such as disease have continued to wipe out the community as a result of resettlement in a totally different climatic zones and poor housing. The houses the government provided in New Hafia were built with contaminated asbestos roofs, many Indigenous Nubian People who live in these asbestos roofed houses, since the building of the High Dam, have developed many forms of cancer due to the asbestos contamination.

                      The construction of the Dams along the Nile River has had a negative impact on the indigenous Nubian people. They have lost their Indigenous cultural, ancestral land, artifacts, regalia and sense of identity and the further construction of dams in Nubian land would create fear among the community that has already lost some of their vital traditions due to immense displacement that has led to unsustainable development. I observed that the Knash Algrba Dam which was the main resource for farming and water sustainability for the Indigenous Nubians in New Haifa has been completely blocked due to silt build up. This unfortunate occurrence has caused drought and famine amongst the displaced Indigenous Nubian People living in New Haifa. The community have expressed fear that the construction of the Kajbar Dam could result in a similar problems experienced by fellow Nubian people relocated to new Haifa areas.

              Until recently, it seemed that plans to build the Dal and Kajbar dams had been abandoned. But in early November, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir paid a visit to the Saudi king in Riyadh to discuss ways of promoting bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries. Following the meeting, the two governments signed an agreement to finance the Dal, Kajbar and Shiraik Dams in northern Sudan. It appears that Saudi Arabia has committed to invest US$1.7 billion for the construction of these three dams.

               The dams and all the so-called associated economic benefits are just excuses the government is using to plunder the mineral resources in the region. They are not considering the people that they were elected to lead effectively. The lack of care from the government and their ineffectiveness of seeing what will happen to the Nubian nation is disheartening. They are willing to risk driving into extinction a whole ethnic group with rich culture and lifestyle.
According to reports, the construction of the Kajbar dam will displace more than 10,000 Nubians and submerge an estimated 500 archaeological sites.

We will continue to support the causes of the Nubian’s and continue to advocate for human rights.

Many revolutionary leaders talk the talk but don’t always walk the walk, but with Sankara his revolutionary principles guided his own life. At the time of his death he had a salary of $450 a month and his most valuable possessions were a car, four bikes, three guitars, a fridge and a broken freezer. He was the world’s poorest president but indeed its richest revolutionary. It been 20 years since the assassination of Sankara and 12 of his aides in October 1987.
Born Thomas Isidore NoÎl Sankara into a Silmi-Mossi family in northern Burkina Faso town of Yako on 21 December 1949, his Roman Catholic parents wanted him to become a priest but he opted instead for a military career, a path that many Africans of his generation pursued as a route to a better life. In 1970 at the age of 20, Sankara was sent for officer training in Madagascar where he witnessed a popular uprising of students and workers that succeeded in toppling Madagascar’s government. Before returning to Burkina Faso in 1972 Sankara attended a parachute academy in France where he was exposed to left-wing political ideologies – particularly as they related to France’s neo-colonial relations with her former colonies. In 1974 he earned much public notoriety for his heroic performance in the border war with Mali, but years later he renounced the war as “useless and unjust” a reflection of his growing political consciousness. By 1976 his ascending military career brought him to the town of Po where he took command of the new National Training Centre for Commandos.

thomas-sankara8
By early 1980s, the country was rocked with series of labour union strikes and military coups. Sankara’s military achievements and charismatic leadership style made him a popular choice for political appointments but his personal and political integrity put him at odds with the leadership of the successive military governments that came to power. In 1980 he was singled out for a government appointment by army chief of staff Col Saye Zerbo who seized control of the country in a military coup in November of that year and formed a new government, the Military Committee for the Enhancement of National Progress (CMRPN) Sankara refused to join the CMRPN, but was nonetheless given a post in Zerbo’s government. Sankara temporarily accepted the position but later resigned which led to his arrest in April 1982, along with Blaise CompaorÈ and their fellow comrade Henri Zongo.
The increasingly repressive CMRPN was shortly thereafter removed from power by another coup which led to the formation of the Council for the Salvation of the People (CSP) headed by Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo In early 1983 Sankara was selected as the prime minister by the CSP which provided him with an entryway into international politics and a chance to meet with leaders of the Nonaligned Movement, including Fidel Castro (Cuba) Samora Machel (Mozambique) and Maurice Bishop (Grenada). That same year Sankara’s anti-imperialist stance and grassroots popularity once again put him at odds with the more conservative elements within the CSP including President Ouedraogo. In an internal coup Sankara was removed as prime minister and jailed. In response to mass demonstrations demanding Sankara’s release the CSP compromised by putting him under house arrest in the capital Ouagadougou.
On 4 August 1983 CompaorÈ along with some 250 other soldiers freed Sankara, overthrew the CSP and formed the National Council of the Revolution (CNR) with Sankara as its president. In Sankara’s words the August revolution was best understood as having “a dual character: It is a democratic and popular revolution. Its primary tasks are to liquidate imperialist domination, exploitation and cleanse the countryside of all social, economic and cultural obstacles that keep it in a backward state. From this flows its democratic character, Sankara initially focused on applying the philosophy of the revolution to transforming the national army improving policies concerning women and economic development. A year after Sankara took office Burkina Faso became the first country in Africa to run mass measles vaccination campaigns that year with the aid of Cuban volunteers, 2.5 million children were immunised for several infectious diseases and even children from neighbouring countries were vaccinated. The alarming infant mortality rates dropped to 145 deaths per 1,000 in less than two years. In an effort to slow the advance of the Sahara Desert, Sankara launched a reforestation programme that planted 10 million trees in its first year.

thomas sankara
Even today trees are planted to celebrate birthdays, weddings and graduations School attendance rose from 12% to 22% in just two years and was complemented by policies to encourage attendance and eventual graduation. A campaign for the restoration of women’s dignity and recognition of their role in society was launched in order to free women from the yoke of patriarchal domination. During Sankara’s presidency Burkina Faso was a leader in employing women in government posts. In a symbolic attempt to demonstrate to men what the daily realities of women’s lives were like, he declared a day of solidarity with housewives and forced men to go to market and take responsibility for household duties Sankara refused to use the air conditioning in his office on the grounds that such luxuries were only available to a few BurkinabÈs. He refused to allow his portrait to be displayed all over the country in order to prevent a cult of personality developing around him. Shortly after coming to power he sold the government’s fleet of Mercedes-Benz and purchased affordable and easy to maintain Renault.
Sankara’s pragmatism and commitment to fiscal responsibility is still remembered: in 2003 critics of the Kenyan government’s purchase of 12 million dollars in luxury cars advised the government to follow the example set by Sankara. The most appropriate way we can honour the lives and struggles of our slain heroes is to pick up where they left off.
Sankara fought and paved ways on how we can make our countries and Africa a better place.

Thomas Sankara (Dec1949 -Oct 1987)
Thomas Sankara (Dec1949 -Oct 1987)

 

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