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Compaore Wanted in Burkina Faso Over Sankara’s Murder? Why?

Tue, 22 Dec 2015 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

A stentorian news item published by several Internet portals on Monday, December 21, 2015, purported to have originated from the current Burkinabe elite and aimed at finding former Burkina Faso ruler Blaise Compaore, who is alleged to be hiding in Cote D’Ivoire, drew no more than a chuckle from me because of the hypocritical nature of the allegations leveled against Compaore. So, the interim government of Burkina Faso has placed a bounty on the head of Compaore? For what, exactly?

When in 1983 Thomas Sankara, the then-33-year-old soldier, came to power through a putsch, it was reminiscent of his idol’s ascent to power south of the Burkina Faso border four years earlier. A treasonable offense that has gone unpunished because of the infamous Indemnity Clause that was smuggled into the succeeding constitution, the 1979 overthrow of Hilla Limann’s legitimately elected government remains a darker blotch on Ghana’s postcolonial political landscape than any other insurrection in the country’s history, except for perhaps the first military takeover in 1966, which has since created an economic Gordian knot for the country.

Suddenly, the uneducated and “downtrodden” Burkinabe citizens had taken to the streets to celebrate the arrival of another man who usurped the power of the people through the barrel of the gun, a man whose illegitimacy was camouflaged by stories of redemption evinced through state-owned radio and television. As I learned many years ago, the man who controls the political message controls the minds of the people. Indeed, the celebrations were akin to those seen south of the Burkina Faso border four years earlier, when the chthonic and ghoulish plans of the putschists had not yet been revealed to the good people of that country. Of course, it was only a matter of time before their mothers and grandmothers were forcibly stretched out on decrepit benches and whipped like rabid dogs under the midday sun to applause from inebriated men in uniform.

More than three decades later, there are still the unbelievably naïve ? men and women who were sold lies and distortions for truth, men and women who vehemently defend the actions of the tyrants ? who claim that the putsch was necessary to “cleanse” their nation of corruption. Today, the “cleansers” live in glass houses and display their opulence to the chagrin of former loyalists. But the evolution of their revolution is the contemporary ubiquity of indiscipline and lawlessness, a giant and virulent seed that was sown when young men and women assaulted and humiliated their elders in public.

Back to my main topic: The Burkinabe people and their dilemma. Thomas Sankara was neither a savior nor a saint. With purportedly good intentions, this “kid” soldier, who had no training in governance, rode on the backs of fellow naïve soldiers to the helm of power. And once there, he ? and the others ? began a path of governance that attempted to throw away individual hard work, embracing instead a Marxist-Leninist philosophy that has been shown to create laziness and apathy wherever it is practiced. In his four years in power, this Marxist-Leninist demagogue gradually catapulted himself into a demigod, transforming Burkina Faso into a police state, and silencing opposing voices via a number of rubber-stamped ordinances and laws.

Ironically, Sankara’s bloated ego and throttlehold on power, boosted perhaps by comparisons with the radical Che Guevara, would eventually lead to his overthrow and ultimate demise, coming at the behest of his “friend” Blaise Compaore, who is now Burkina Faso’s most wanted man. Sadly, the chickens did come home to roost for the Burkinabe people in 1987, and no matter what happens to Compaore, it would not do away with the fact that Sankara was not elected, and therefore not the people’s choice to govern at the time that he did. Interestingly, Sankara did not survive the trenches of military rule, and was thus unable to join his “retired” friends who now live in glass houses across the African continent. Sadly, violence begets violence, and those who embrace violence to reach their political goals must be prepared for the rather predictable consequences.

© The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, Ph.D., is a Ghanaian American and a criminologist by profession. He can be reached at GoodGovernanceinGhana@yahoo.com. He may be followed on Twitter: @DanielKPryce.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.