‘Ya basta, it’s enough!’

2014-11-03 13:45

“They burnt down Parliament!” screamed the social- media networks, announcing the dramatic events unfurling rapidly in Burkina Faso this week.

A protest that was started reluctantly by opposition parties in two days had led to the suspension of Parliament and government, and a confusing announcement of a transitional government and a state of emergency.

By the time you read this, it is possible that the much-hated President Blaise Compaoré, the man accused of murdering the darling of the revolutionary people of the world, Thomas Sankara, in 1987 may be toppled by mass action.

After 27 years of brutal rule by Compaoré, who sought to extend his stay in power for another three terms, the people of Burkina Faso simply said: “Ya basta!” (It’s enough!)

What makes the events of the Burkinabé revolt special is because it comes from the country that gave us Sankara, who remains one of the most selfless revolutionary leaders Africa has seen.

Those who are inspired by him will never forget how, in four short years, he ended food insecurity, confronted female oppression, ended the rule of oppressive feudal lords, planted 10?million trees in his fight against desertification, immunised millions and was the first to recognise the scourge of HIV/Aids.

He also built rail infrastructure through sheer determination and we remember how he most dramatically sold all the Mercedes-Benzes of his predecessors, rode to Parliament on a bicycle and declared the Renault 5 – the cheapest car in his country at the time – the official car for the president and cabinet ministers.

Sankara removed the portraits of his face on government building because there were 8?million Thomas Sankaras in the country.

He did not stop there. He fought against neocolonialism in the whole of Africa. He will be remembered for his advice that, “those who feed you control you”.

All this was cut short by his assassination and the taking of power by Compaoré, an ally who betrayed him.

For 27 long years, the Burkinabé people suffered in silence as they watched the abuse of power and the turning of parliament into an instrument to defend the elite and political class.

The dream of Sankara seemed to be buried with him in the shallow unmarked grave he was hurriedly buried in.

History has an amazing way of correcting injustices.

In October, the same month Sankara was murdered, the people rose as one and demanded a new order.

The trigger might have been the demand for limitations of presidential terms, but the desire for a return to the Sankara dream seems to be the driving force as seen by the show of people on the streets carrying pictures of Sankara and calling themselves by the name of his movement, Revolution 2.0.

The “Black Spring” has struck and we hope all the leaders of Africa are watching. It might spread like wildfire across the Sahara.

The road ahead is treacherous. We must remember how Egypt’s revolution ended. It didn’t end the abuse of power; it brought in new oppressors.

Three scenarios stand out in Burkina Faso.

First, the leaders of the opposition might cut a deal with Compaoré for a transitional period.

Second, the army can offer the same thing, which will be a betrayal of the revolution.

Third, the people can develop a minimum programme for a new society based on Sankara’s ideas and return power to themselves.

Whatever happens, the world knows that Thomas Sankara lives.

Mgxitama is an EFF member of Parliament

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