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Mariam Sankara — Wife of Assassinated Leader Thomas Sankara: Speaks Out On Burkina Faso

In this short but bold message to mark 27 years since the assassination of revolutionary President Thomas Sankara on October 15, his widow outlines some of the challenges facing Burkinabes under the failed Compaore regime and urges continued resistance. Compaore has since been ousted by the Burkina Faso's military.

Mariam Sankara. (cc: KLB)
Mariam Sankara. (cc: KLB)
By Mariam Sankara

Ladies and gentlemen, dear comrades,

We are gathered here once more for the 27th anniversary of the assassination of President Thomas Sankara and those who fell with him on that 15th day of October 1987. This odious action was followed by other ignominious crimes that touched many minds both inside the country and outside our shores.

Twenty-seven years after the assassination of President Thomas Sankara, the fundamental liberties of the Burkinabés are scoffed at. The majority of the population is unemployed. Their essential needs are not taken care of: food, water, electricity, shelter, education, clothing and health.


Thomas Sankara (left) and Blaise Compaore: Before Blaise Compaore took over Burkina Faso, the nation was led by Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara who seized power with the backing of Compaore in 1983. It was an effort to liberate the nation from corruption and French post-colonial influence. Sankara wanted to free the nation from the IMF, the World Bank and crushing foreign debt. He wanted to unite Africa, sought full equality for women, land reform, and universal education and medical care. His agenda included planting 10 million trees and halting desertification. Sankara was eventually accused of using authoritarian tactics to achieve his goals, and not surprisingly he was opposed by the nation's elite and global corporate interests. In 1987, Sankara was killed in a coup led by Blaise Compaore and backed by France. After Compaore's coup, all of Sankara's progressive programs were ended. Compaore had been in power ever since but was forced to resign on October 31, 2014 in a coup led by Lt. Col. Isaac Zida. Since Compaore coup in 1987 and until his ouster in 2014, Burkina Faso has languished as one of the poorest nations on earth.—Ronald David Jackson

The people are no longer under any illusion concerning the policies that jeopardise the development and reputation of Burkina Faso.

Moreover, the ethical values, the foundation of the 4th of August 1983 revolution are no longer of topical interest to the rulers. In contrast to the period of the revolution, the extant regime no longer plays any significant role in the understanding of the real issues of national and African integration; more generally, of the globalisation of the world economy. These issues are shaped at different levels such as sustainable development (environmental degradation and depleting resources), development research, training, promotion of culture, women emancipation, the struggle against inequalities, the promotion of partnership and solidarity at national, continental and international levels.

Despite the disastrous situation that the Burkinabé people endure, the Blaise Campaoré regime wants to hang on to power at all costs by modifying article 37 of the Constitution.

Faced with this new challenge, the Burkinabé people have decided, in their overwhelming majority, to resist by marches which are the expression of the rejection of the policy put in place, disapproval of both the installing of a Senate and the modification of article 37 of the Constitution.

These unprecedented marches demonstrate the weariness of the people in relation to the politics of the CDP whose failure needs no demonstration.

In fact, this regime has created in Burkina a situation where a minority is getting richer while the majority languishes in misery. The growing anger of the people of Burkina is largely justified. Instead of responding to the request of the people, the regime seems to opt for political impasse, knowing fully well that such an option could be such as to provoke a conflagration that could have nasty consequences for the country and a sub region that is already plunged into interminable conflicts.

The people must remain vigilant even as they prepare for change. Our priority today is peace, real democracy and development for a prosperous Burkina. For our country the main issue is organizing free and transparent elections with parties that propose real alternatives for our people. An alternative based on ethical values and the reconciliation of the sons and daughters of Burkina.

To conclude, I call for a gathering of Sankarists and of all progressive forces that aspire to change for the well-being of all Burkinabés.

The fatherland or death, we will win!
Madame Mariam SANKARA
Montpellier, 14 October 2014

* Translated from French for Pambazuka News by Uchenna Osigwe.

Reprinted with permission from Pambazuka News.

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