February 27, 2024

ExposAfrica Magazine

Let's Expose Africa Together

A Brief History of Burkina Faso — AN ALLIANCE OF TREACHEROUS INTERESTS

Sometimes I secretly imagine what roaming inside the mind of a villain would feel like, or simply just have the machinations forming up in his/her abstract mind being transmitted as a live feed on a jumbo screen through a couple of wires functioning as physical neuro-transmitters, securely attached to the said villain’s head while he/she remained in a restraint chair for days. Other times I’d long for nothing but a deep conversation.

Perhaps exploring the complex thoughts of these people through constant conversation or the not-so-friendly but deeply pleasing backdoor of fictional Neuroscience would better explain why some people consciously or sub-consciously allow their behavior to impact their immediate environment, either favorably or adversely.

The behaviorist in me strongly believes the largest percentage of our actions are learned from the environment, forcing me to sometimes accept the theory that our minds from birth might truly be a tabula rasa and the humanist ideas of free will and choice are nothing but mere illusions to justify sanity.

This is the only way I can personally rationalize the actions of individuals and nations that have taken part in the downward spiral of Africa as a continent. While the selfish and inhumane interests of colonial powers like France and Britain is evident in their brutal exploration and dehumanizing of Africa and its indigenous people, the actions of certain individuals in aiding foreign nations to form policies that ensure the continuous degradation of their continent still beats my imagination.

A perfect example of this parasitic relationship comes into play in the emergence of Burkina Faso as a sovereign nation free from the colonial grasp of France. Burkina Faso was formerly named Upper Volta by the French, who occupied its territories after the scramble for Africa in the 1890s, eventually making it an official colony on the 1st of March, 1919. It became a self-governing colony on December 11, 1958 as the republic of Upper Volta, but still remained within the French community.

Full independence was eventually attained by the republic of Upper Volta almost two years later on the 5th of August 1960, with their first president Maurice Yameogo assuming office through the aid of the Voltaic democratic union (UDV).

Just like the majority of independent African nations newly freed from the iron grasp of colonialism. The republic of Upper Volta experienced series of military coups and constant power-grabs from 1960 down to January 1983 when Captain Thomas Sankara, the leader of the leftist arm of the council of popular salvation (CSP) was appointed prime minister. Sankara was later arrested and put into prison by the then president; Maj. Dr. Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo who accused him of treason, but later got freed by his friend and comrade; Captain Blaise Compaore through another coup d’etat later on August 4, the same year.

Sankara’s assumption of office proved to be a turning point in the history of Upper Volta. His first move after being made president was to change the name of the country from the republic of Upper Volta to Burkina Faso which means “A land of incorruptible people” in the local language of the Burkinabe. This ingenious move by Sankara heralded the majority of the anti-imperialist policies formed during his brief but wildly impactful stint in power which aimed to completely eradicate the influence of greedy foreign powers in his country.

The second step in affirming his country’s true independence was to majorly reduce the country’s reliance on Foreign aid and increase local production mostly by encouraging all-round self-sufficiency through Agriculture which increased total cereal production by 75% between 1983 and 1986 eventually boosting the country’s internal revenue.

An illustration of the illustrous Thomas Sankara

Sankara also made education a priority by embarking on a nationwide literacy campaign which increased school attendance from 6% to 22%. He revived his country’s failing health sector by building medical dispensaries and pharmacies in an estimated 5,384 villages which eventually dropped the infant mortality rate in Burkina Faso from 208 per 1000 births to 145 from 1982-1984.

This man built schools, water reservoirs, planted almost 10 million trees to combat desertification and almost 100km of rail with little to no external assistance. He appointed women to lofty governmental positions, after banning forced marriages and genital mutilation. He also drastically reduced the wages of high-ranking government officials so as to encourage equality and discipline in the public sector, while practicing his socialist ideals by reportedly owning just one car, four bikes, three guitars and a refrigerator while earning a meager $450 dollars a month.

Thomas Sankara presented a model of governance most African leaders should strive to emulate today, with the few discrepancies found in his government mostly in the trial of people he deemed were enemies of his idea of revolution and progress. Sadly, this revolutionary man could not live long enough to see his vision for Burkina Faso reach full realization. He was assassinated on the 15th October 1987 during a coup organized by the same man who brought him to power; Blaise Compaore.

Blaise Compaore and Thomas Sankara

Blaise served as Burkina Faso’s minister of state which was then a position that made him second-in-command only to Sankara. Although he is widely regarded as a master strategist and a mediator of conflicts between warring African factions in the western world, Blaise Compaore is the direct opposite of everything Sankara stood for and fought against.

His first step after assuming office in 1987 was to revert Sankara’s anti-imperialist policies and open up his country to foreign parasites who disguise their true intentions through “aid” and “relief” provision. This man ousted Sankara from power with the help of Henri Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani – two of his co-conspirators then had them executed for allegedly plotting to overthrow his regime.

Blaise Compaore willingly handed his country over to the French again by forming a symbiotic relationship with them that lasted for over 27 years before he was forcefully asked to resign in the latter part of 2014.

To fully understand why most African states fail to develop at the rate of their European counterparts, it is imperative we recognize not just the negative impact of greedy foreign nations but African leaders like Blaise Compaore who for one reason or the other continue to lead the continent into an abyss of ineffectuality and developmental stagnation.

Blaise Compaore ruled Burkina Faso for 27 years by reportedly rigging elections in 1991, 1998, 2005 and 2010. He even attempted to append the country’s constitution, so as to be able to extend his 27 year term and run again for another election, a decision that was met with widespread uproar and protests from citizens of Burkina Faso who took to the streets in huge numbers to call for his resignation. Compaore’s government was known for widespread corruption, human rights violations and even targeted assassinations such as the death of Nobert Zongo, a prominent journalist who managed the L’independent; a newspaper that exposed the ineptitude of Compaore’s administration.

There is yet to be any proven theory that associates a particular skin tone, color or race with excessive greed and fatal selfishness. The rapacious hunger for power is the same in every human irrespective of the subject being white, black, mulatto, albino, Hispanic, red Indian or whatever else there is. It is the common quality that has defined the lives of certain people in power either in Africa or other parts of the world.

A huge part of me itches to find out why Men like Blaise Compaore exist to bring their continent to ruin. Might it be the same old insatiable hunger for money and power? Or something more sinister. Can this man’s behavior be deemed a colossal failing on his part or the result of an acquired coldness due to the environment he grew up in.

Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.

Blaise Compaore was reportedly extracted by French special forces to Ivory coast after the public revolt in Burkina Faso proved to be unsafe for him and his family. The waiting arms of his corrupt friend; president Alassane Outtara took him in with pleasure. He is still alive and well till date while his country continues to languish in the mess accrued by his administration.

December 11 is presently the official national day celebration of Burkina Faso’s independence from France. While Sankara changed this date to August 4 to usher in the birth of a new nation after he assumed office, Blaise Compaore reinstalled December 11 as the official date in spite of Sankara, after he stole power some years ago. Six weeks after his public resignation in October 2014, Burkina Faso’s citizens came out in droves to celebrate a new form of independence from Compaore’s government which has ruled the country ruthlessly since 1987.

This is our sad reality in Africa. Our enemies are closer than we know and they’ve always been. African leaders like Blaise Compaore, Paul Biya, Alassane Ouattara, and a long-list of past Nigerian dictators are a new crop of black imperialists perpetrating crimes similar to those associated with their foreign allies.

Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni is the current flag bearer of this group. He has been the president of Uganda since 1986. His government had taken numerous steps to ensure his re-election into office on the 14th of January 2021 by intimidating the citizens of Uganda and also banning social media in the country.

Musician and activist; Bobi Wine had risen against the tyrant despite the numerous attempts aimed at taking his life. Despite failing to win the election, his courage sparks hope amongst the progressive citizens of Uganda buoying a renewed vigor for change in the nearest future. It is my hope that as men like Blaise Compaore and his cohorts prevail amidst us, true agents of change like Sankara and every other black revolutionary will continue to rise against their hold.

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