Thomas Sankara: the Black Star

Today on October 15th we commemorate the 25th year anniversary of the murder of Thomas Sankara.

Often referred to as Africa’s Che Guevara, Sankara was president of Burkina Faso between 1983 and 1987. He had reached power through a coup d’état. However, he always put the wellbeing of his people as his top priority. Sankara redistributed lands, nationalized the mineral industry and push for alphabetisation and health advancements in his country. He fought for the rights of women and against the dictatorship of debt. His speech given at a conference of African Union on July 1987 in which he called for repudiation of debt – an imposed unjust and illegitimate debt – is today more timely than ever. A few months later he was assassinated.

The following commemoration was written by the African Coordinator of Barcelona Consensus, Samir Abi:

Lomé, the quiet night of 15 October 1987, was shaken by the sudden news: Sankara is dead. Radio France Inter had just announced it, long before all the African Media. Overseas, it was already known that a black shining star had disappeared from the dark sky of Africa. I still remember the face of father Kao, who in that gloomy night sat, with his head between his hands, and cried in despair of a continent once again humiliated.

Twenty-five years have passed, but the night always seems to be the same. The misfortunes of the people are have not changed and memory refuses to forget the struggles of our brave fathers who resisted to colonization. We won’t forget their descendents who claimed independence, the martyrs of the discontinuous struggle against economic imperialism, renewed ever since the times of slavery until its post-modern face of financial capitalism. More than ever, Africa will not forget its honourable son.

For four years, Sankara reflected the Africa dreamed by the fathers of independence. He did not only embody the end of an era, but he also dedicated himself to the beginning of a new struggle: the fight against the financial bondage that binds people through debt. Hope remains inAfrica, that one day another black star will be born and carry on the work of Sankara. Young people are still lead by his inspiring words and deeds. The awakening of the Arab peoples has proven again that timeless ideas will always be victorious. Ideas which are stronger than the flesh just as African Youth Leader Sony Labou Tansi stated “I, the undersigned heart” expressing the fragility of the body and the power of thought.

His words remain immortal. In this dark night, his speech still resonates loud and clear in these times of crisis where the executioners are awarded Nobel prices instead of the victims. “The masses inEuropeare not opposed to the masses in Africa. Those who want to exploit Africa are the same people who exploit in Europe.”(Sankara, July 1987). From Greece to Iceland that speech shall be understood as a momentum of African solidarity in this times when you fight for your future.

The night, however long it may be, will never stop stars from rise and to shine and guide us in our fight. “La patrie ou la mort, Nous vaincrons ! »

courtesy by Romano Martino, thanks.