As Compaoré The Tyrant Tumbles, Chaos Looms In Burkina, The World Celebrates Sankara

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By Ebrima G Sankareh, Editor-in-Chief

Barely a week before his chilling overthrow and cowardly assassination by the French and Ivory Coast-sponsored Blaise Compaoré (some would hasten to add America) on October 15, 1987, Pan-Africanist theorist, Marxist revolutionary and slain President of Burkina Faso, the most charismatic and affable Thomas Sankara once professed, “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.”

It has been twenty seven painful years since a coward’s bullet seized Thomas Sankara (Dec. 21,1949—Oct.15,1987) from us but today, just like a geological force, the combined media commentaries on his legacy and the political reverberations of his profound statement are being felt, remembered and reflected upon the world over as the tyrant behind his chilling finality, Blaise Compaoré, shamelessly tumbles, leaving behind looming chaos on the horizon of the Burkina political landscape.

Like most tyrants and authoritarian dictators, Blaise Compare’s fall from grace was predictable but that it could come so quickly like a tsunami, marvels the most ardent optimist ever. Today, the once powerful tactician with blood tainted hands, a figure who burnished shoulders with the high and the mighty of Western capitals and Arab bandits like Libya’s disgraced autocrat, Khadafi, is mute as he contemplates his future in a changed world where former tyrants, autocrats, kakistocrats and war lords are zealously haunted by their demons and simultaneously hunted by international human rights campaigners some of whom may now be contemplating his potential candidature as a war criminal or as a perpetrator of crimes against humanity on his fellow citizens like Sankara the fallen comrade and his former boss or Norbert Zongo, the famed investigative journalist silenced by his criminal regime.

Curiously, like The Gambia’s intrepid journalist, Deyda Hydara, shot by bandits while behind the wheels of his Mercedes, Zongo’s macabre murder highlights the degree to which African despots can go to fight dissent and nothing is more tantalising about these despots than the cock and bull stories that usually accompany the aftermath of such grisly murders. Hopefully, now that Compaoré is out of the political scene, Zongo’s family will get the closure they deserve and the culprits immediately brought to book. I have no doubt that Deyda Hydara’s family looks forward with hopeful anticipation to the day, their husband, father and uncle’s murderer(s) is/are brought to book. As his former colleague, I too, look forward to that day when the criminals who killed Deyda Hydara are paraded in the public gallery and shamed for eternity! For no regime lasts for ever and no King, no matter how powerful can reign forever! This has been the verdict of history and the better our leaders and their sycophants take heed, the better for them, our country and for posterity.

Evidently, the French who had always seen in Compaoré a willing accomplice; a taciturn tactician who lacks charisma and a master manipulator himself a willing Western manipulative tool were jittery when the final fireworks were set ablaze and the cowardly tyrant asked for calm from an angry citizenry who had had enough of his political deception; an explosive cocktail of terror and state-orchestrated banditry. But as has always been the case in history, the dye was long caste on Compaoré’s political fate  and no force, no matter how powerful and shrewd could turn the tides of history and as heaven would have it, his reign of terror and banditry ended the same month—October, some twenty seven painful years later. As the Anglo would have it, it’s better late than never and how often do we do we need to be reminded by Shakespeare’s immortal dictum, “the evil that men do live after them.”

In Africa, our people despite their poverty and collective misery are uniquely tenacious especially, the poor people in land-locked Burkina who throughout their checkered political history have seen all forms of despots and tyrants—both political and military leaders; and even amid looming chaos, the message out of Burkina was quite illuminating. Listen to this: “you can hold the testicles of a blind man for so long but one day, he will get you with his cane.” Yes! For twenty seven years, the French-backed despot, a regional criminal whose tentacles were spread all over the warring places has kept his people under his thumb; yes, for twenty seven years his former trustee and best friend’s family waited for closure over his mutilation. Yes, for twenty seven years, Captain Blaise Compaoré was blinded by power and employed sustained terror to quell dissent, sending many critics behind the harrowing walls of state prisons and sending many, many more perceived political enemies, real or potential, into exile. But today, Burkina’s Captain of terror is himself a refugee, flown to next door Ivory Coast by his French financiers and their Western intelligence operators and other subtle interlocutors.

Significantly, unlike Captain Thomas Sankara who was mutilated by a coward’s bullet, Captain Terror was hurriedly whisked away by the French least he too end violently and like a despot, he now lives quietly in an undisclosed location in neighbouring Ivory Coast.

Captain Campaore`

Ominously however, unlike Captain Sankara, Captain Terror’s demons are now haunting him as he nervously contemplates his fate especially, as he reflects over the catalogues of crimes commissioned while he clung onto power like most African despots in the sub region. Unlike Captain Sankara whose books, essays and ideas are continuously discussed across the globe, Blaise Compaoré now lives a painful life; a life of uncertainty where one’s ugly deeds are laid bare like a powerful kaleidoscope reflecting and magnifying his murky past of evil, his tyranny, his banditry and all his covert operations laced in human misery. It is a kaleidoscope that will continue to work as long as the former despot of Burkina continues to breathe air and sooner rather than later, the dark secrets during his twenty seven years of terror will be public.

Curiously, as we went to press, Captain Terror’s successor, Lt. Colonel Zida, is also trying his hand at his old master’s game—DECEPTION—and despite promises of immediately returning the West African nation to civilian-constitutional rule, his meeting with three West African leaders last week leaves us with enormous room for conjecture. In the end, the people of Burkina are now politically baptised into the art and science of popular democracy making it impossible for any leader, no matter how brutal, to perpetuate himself into power like Captain Compaoré did and when the books are written, Captain Sankara remains a hero with a legacy beyond the eye can see. Just as he said before his cold-blooded murder, “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.” His ideas are here to stay for eternity!

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