Slave and colonial mentality are so ingrained in some Africans and their leaders to the point they live to serve the interest of the external forces who are only interested in their mineral and natural resources. These Africans do so to the detriment of themselves and their people.
A classic example is what transpired between Blaise Compaoré and his “friend” and brother, Thomas Sankara. While Sankara was about the people’s business, Compaoré, the person he trusted the most was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Compaoré pretended to be in support of the people’s popular revolution, and at the same time took his marching orders from the external forces that were bitterly against Sankara’s reform and pan-African causes. His leadership style was not what the imperialists were used to; therefore, he had to be erased like they did Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Walter Rodney, Maurice Rupert Bishop and countless Africans and leaders of developing nations. They did not have to go too far; their Judas was Blaise Compaoré, the trusted ‘friend’ and brother of Sankara. He was willing to betray his ‘friend’ and brother to take over the leadership of the country. The rest is history!
This scene is repeated too often in Africa and in developing countries. However, we are reminded of warning statements like:
* “The hole you dig for another person will be the hole you’ll fall in”
* “What you do in the dark will surely come to light”
* “Ninety years are not forever”
* “Chickens will come home to roost”
* “What goes around, comes around”
* “Nothing Lasts Forever!”
These statements are not out of the ‘clear blue sky’; they have been around since the start of time. They are warnings to individuals and leaders who are NOT doing the right thing. This is the reason I could not get the connection or the significance of Abdoulaye Dukulé’s explanation that Amos C. Sawyer had NO role to play in the power game that went on between Compaoré, Sankara and Taylor in the Burkina Faso fiasco. The last time I checked my records on ‘explaining things,’,it was former president Bill Clinton who still held the title of “Chief of Explaining Things,” (CET) and not Dukulé.
The question I am pondering over is why is Dukulé explaining to the public at this time, when we are supposed to be rejoicing with the ordinary people who have had enough of Compaoré to the point of forcing him to resign. This should have the focus of every peace-loving people everywhere, instead, Dukulé wants the public to know that Sawyer had no role to play in Compaoré’s power grab. Did someone ask him for such explanation? I guess not! But he insists we listen; so let’s try to make sense of his explanation, Dukulé writes:
“It was ten years ago when I penned an article calling for the indictment of the mentors of Charles Taylor, Libyan leader Kaddafi and Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaoré. Now they are all gone and I can’t help thinking back of those years of peace negotiations, where Blaise Compaoré used his close alliance with the Libyan leader to put pressure on some countries of ECOWAS. Many Liberians often think that Interim President Dr. Amos Sawyer also stopped ECOMOG as soon as they were close to booting out Taylor. It was always President Compaoré, who used his direct line to Kaddafi and put pressure on ECOMOG. Because, as he provided direct military and financial support to Charles Taylor in Liberia, Kaddafi was also supporting the cost of some of the ECOMOG contingents. He played both sides and Blaise Compaoré served as his middle man.”
So far, I still did not get the significance of his explanation about Sawyer. He took away the focus from the West African ‘Harmattan Wing’ that ended President Compaoré’s 27-year rule in Burkina Faso. The ‘Harmattan Wind’ that forced Compaoré to resign has just begun; even the presence of Ebola will not prevent it from blowing into the offices of corrupt leaders in the region. So let’s join in solidarity with the patriotic people of Burkina Faso in celebrating their achievement by forcing the alleged conspirator, Compaoré to resign.
What the people of Burkina Faso did should serve notice to African leaders that those that assists their former colonial masters in overthrowing and killing African leaders that are about the people’s business will surely pay for it. Remember, “The hole you dig for another person will be the hole you’ll fall in”; so the ‘Harmattan Wing’ that is blowing in the region is to make sure corrupt leaders are removed from its path. Our guess is who could be next?
Unlike Compaoré, Sankara had a very appealing vision for Africa and his country. It was the right vision to free his people of aid; trade on equal terms; to manufacture and process their own raw materials, which meant adding value, instead of selling their raw materials – giving away the value to others. Sankara believed in his people and was proud of them. He had the right vision, and with maturity who knows he could have influenced other African leaders to do the same for their people. After his death, it has become clear that he was assassinated because he fought for his people. This made the exploiters angry! Who knows how he would have carried on with his plans after his 4th year? But we know for certain the 27 years Blaise Compaoré has been in power. We have the data on him to know what he has done in those 27 years in Burkina Faso and to the people; compared to Sankara’s 4 years. Compaoré ruined the country.
It is no coincidence that Sankara was killed after the speech he made when he said: “Colonialism in Africa never ceased; it just transitioned and changed faces from visible military colonialism to invisible ECONOMIC colonialism”. To which an observer made the statement below:
“He [Sankara] had found out the western capitalistic Ponzi Scheme of the International Banksters. I’m not Burkinabe and even west African, I am a capitalistic businessman who like honest profit and fruits of my labour, but Sankara was totally right and was the only intelligent African President ever lived. Ask yourself who killed Patrice Lumumba? Who killed John F. Kennedy and his brother? Who killed Abraham Lincoln and why? It was all about MONEY which is translated to POWER. People need to be educated about history, economics and geopolitics before they can connect the dots of what really is going on in the world. Money Talks and bull shit walks!”
That’s the fact this observer wrote; but then there is this expression that reminds us: “Ninety years are not forever”! In a way, it is a wish that someday, whether in ninety years or so, those who took the laws into their hands, killed and violated every law in their country with impunity will have to pay for their sins. To the ordinary person, “Ninety years are not forever” is their cry for justice. The Ninety-Year scenario has made many African leaders and criminals alike to become casualties by their own doing. But for some reasons, due to these leaders’ greediness for power, they do not learn from history. They keep repeating the same offense over and over and by hook or crook to maintain and remain in power. They are not alone. They have cheerleaders who will cheer them on, no matter the consequence. These are the people Tony Lawrence made reference to in 1995 when he wrote:
“Too many people are only willing to defend rights that are personally important to them. It’s selfish ignorance, and it’s exactly why totalitarian governments are able to get away with trampling on people. Freedom does not mean freedom just for the things I think I should be able to do. Freedom is for all of us. If people will not speak up for other people’s rights, there will come a day when they will lose their own.”
These words are so profound and true! The Burkinabé made sure this time the ‘chickens coming home to roost’; meaning bad deeds done in the past will never go unpunished; they will someday haunt the perpetrators. Right now that’s the fate of Compaoré! Some political and social scientists compared it to what is known as ‘cognitive dissonance’. To which Frantz Fanon wrote:
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” (Black Skin, White Masks)
That’s how it was not too long ago in most African and developing nations. And to some extent, it still exists. Governments in power in these countries controlled the mass media. Newspapers, printing presses, radio and television stations and movies were predominantly government-owned or censored. As a result, an atmosphere of phobia and apathy was created in the journalistic community and amongst those individuals who enjoy expressing their views through this avenue. Being denied this inalienable right, the people were not sincere at all in expressing their views about how they really felt about their government. All that has changed with the ‘dot com’ age, and cell phones. The few that are still holding on to power are in denial, day dreaming or having BAD nightmares.
Until these African leaders stop being in denial and relinquish their quest for power and wealth and abandon their divine rule of the chief concept, there is little hope for them. And until they are politically matured to accept defeat in elections and criticisms from opposition without personal vendetta, there is little chance for them to be relevant.
Today, the mass media is FREE all due to everyone with Internet access and computer – becoming self-made ‘journalist;’ and anyone with smart phone becoming ‘photo journalist’. This is the predicament that these human dinosaurs find themselves. Therefore, they must as well throw in the tower. The truth of the matter is – these days, government of any country is accountable to the people and the mass media serves as the means of communicating the message to the people.
In short, what happened to Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso awaits other African leaders in the region.
Let me close with the poem below that described what was happening in Liberia in the 70s, which is applicable to other African and developing countries today.
Like My Brother In Soweto
By Joe Wylie
Like my brother in Soweto
I live in the slum in Monrovia
Where I fight with disease and hunger
While the Big Shot enjoys Monrovia
He exploits me
Then my own brother
So Big and powerful, too
Gives him courage
So that he, too, may get a share
Of my sweat and chew it fine.
Like my brother in Soweto
I go without a cent in my pocket
While Chase Manhattan is over-loaded
With the Big Shot’s money
And his pockets, too,
Are filled with coins.
Like my brother in Soweto
Rain pour down on my head
While I walk to school;
Then Mr. Big Shot appears
In the car my father’s taxes bought
From whose tyres dirty, muddy water
Springs and wet my poor, little face.
Like my brother in Soweto
I, too, suffer from oppression;
But unlike my brother in Soweto
I do not stop these oppressive big shot
I just roam the slums
Struggling for survival.
And why must I keep silent
In the face of oppression?
(About the poem and its author: Joe Wylie was an 11th grade student at Charlotte Tolbert School, Monrovia when he wrote this poem. It was published in the “Poetry for the Struggle” in APFA, Monrovia, Liberia, September 1978).
Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor is man of God, Chair of the ULAA Council of Eminent Persons (UCEP), Inc. He is a poet, Griot, journalist, and a cultural and political activist. In 2012, he Co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology; his book of poems: TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut is now on the market. Nyanseor can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.