Burkina Faso Rising: Comparing Thomas Sankara and Blaise Compaore By Demilade Isaac Osoteku
Have you ever heard the name Thomas Sankara? How about Blaise Compaore? Odds are high that most people know of a popular Thomas Sankara than a rather unpopular Blaise Compaore. For your information, Thomas Sankara was the African revolutionary that took over the helms of affairs of his country, Upper Volta at 34, changed the name to Burkina Faso (land of upright people) and attempted the most ambitious programmes for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent. He fought imperialism and domination of the Colonial French masters in the running of his country. He paid with his life, a coup popularly believed to be masterminded by his compatriots, Blaise Compaore and influenced by imperialist governments. Blaise Compaore took over as the Burkina Faso Head of State.
Blaise Compaore is the handsome imperialist puppet believed to mastermind the murder of his dear friend and compatriot, Thomas Sankara. He took over the government at the age of 33 and ruled in the typical shallow mindedness of African leaders for 27 years. He even attempted to adjust the constitution and extend his tenure for one more term in 2015, of course courtesy of the imperialist support he has enjoyed.
Sankara is an epitome of liberty and individual decisiveness. His principle was simple, the people are the greatest decider of their fate. Dependence on other continents for food, aid, development etc will cost Africa more than she can gain. Economic liberty, individual liberty and Political liberty were the key. Compaore on his own was a man who lacked any form of decisiveness in economic matters. As a matter of fact, the only form of decisiveness he had was that of elongation his tenure.
BBC’s James Copnall had this to say about Compaore, “He largely followed the economic orthodoxy prescribed by international financial institutions. But Burkina Faso did not escape the poverty trap. It remains one of the least developed countries in the world.” Sankara on the other hand promoted home grown development; he called on every village to build a medical dispensary and had over 350 communities construct schools with their own labour. He led an agrarian revolution that helped his country to get closest to self-suficiency. His commitment to women’s rights led him to outlaw female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy, while appointing women to high governmental positions and encouraging them to work outside the home and stay in school even if pregnant.
But Blaise is not without his good sides, he was an excellent mediator in matters of coup and uprising within nations in the region. He mediated in the Inter-Togolese Dialogue which resulted in an agreement between the government and opposition parties. He has also acted as mediator in the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, brokering the peace agreement that was signed by Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro. However, when his own doom came, no one was there to mediate on his behalf.
Thomas Sankara and Blaise Compaore’s comparison also fortify the fact that longevity can be disadvantageous. It is not how long a public servant serves that matter, it is how well. Thomas Sankara died a the age of 38 having ruled his country for just 4 years, yet his name still remains on the lips of young Africans as a mentor and leader worthy of emulation. Compaore is 63, ruled for 27 years and was forced to resign by the people he claimed to lead. My Jesus lived for 33 years, served for 3 years and is still remembered 2000 years after. By the way, who compels a performing president to resign? Libya’s Gadaffi also fell to the wrong hands of the longevity game as well.
Africa has a long list of long serving presidents who have by no means transformed their countries to the el-dorado of what their people deserve and desire. Paul Biya of Cameroon has been serving for 39 years, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equitorial Guinea for 35 years, José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola for 35 years, Robert Mu gabe of Zimbabwe for 34 years among others. These shameless power drunk individuals have never stopped enjoying imperialists support and their countries remain at the base of the Global development ladder. Blaise Compaore’s ejection from office should teach these rulers a lesson.
One week before Sankara’s assassination, he declared: “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.” Sankara is long gone but his ideas live on. Compaore is still with us, yet his presence disgusts us. It simply tells us that a government whose major prerogative is the pursuant and maintenance of power rather than ideas of development is dead although he lives.
The onus falls on African young people (my constituency) and the general populace, to oust these leaders who have constantly recycled themselves without leading us to any of the much needed good. The sun of the Compaores of Africa is setting, our own sun is rising. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of these power-drunk elders. Foreign aid without business investment will contually make the caged bird sing like Maya Angelou professed. An independent mind is what we require in leadership. Burkina Faso have ended their own dictatorship menace, which country is next?
Demilade Isaac Osoteku is an Pan-African at heart, Christian in Spirit and Libertarian in deed.
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