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Thomas Sankara Commemoration

Toronto – 14 October 2017


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30th Commemoration of the Assassination of Thomas Sankara: Which way forward for Africa & the Caribbean?

Thomas Sankara, Pan-African revolutionary and former President of Burkina Faso (1983-1987) had a vision for the sustained and dignified progress of his country, the “land of the incorruptible.” During his short period of rule in Burkina Faso, the country saw an unprecedented participation of the population towards a collective goal of self-sustained development.

The former Burkina Faso head-of-state gave new hope to millions of voiceless Africans (both in Africa and in the Diaspora); weary of watching a ceaseless parade of self-enriching robber barons, who pillage the coffers of their respective states. Thomas Sankara is widely recognized and celebrated in Africa and the world over as a champion of fundamental change who fought to liberate Africa from the control of international financial institutions, deepening poverty, war and the pillage of its resources. Addressing an audience in Harlem, Sankara boldly declared that “Black Harlem is my White House.”

Unlike most men world-wide, Sankara considered women as Comrades-in-arms. Said Sankara: “Her status overturned by private property, banished from her very self, relegated to the role of child raiser and servant, written out of history by philosophy (Aristotle, Pythagoras, and others) and the most entrenched religions, stripped of all worth by mythology, woman shared the lot of a slave, who in slave society was nothing more than a beast of burden with a human face.”

Sankara as a leader was an honest and humble man. His life was the blue print that could bring Burkina Faso out of the grips of neo-colonialism, and ultimately was the reason for his assassination. Sankara believed and promoted a development that focused on taking charge of one’s own destiny, to count on their own forces, and break free from domination.

Thirty years since the assassination of Sankara by counter revolutionary forces that were in collusion with imperial forces, the legacy and vision for a self-sustained Burkina Faso and Africa still live on in the hearts and activism of Africans and other people of good faith.

African nations and peoples both in the continent and the diaspora continue to face renewed and escalating imperialist threats manifested in corporate globalization, militarization/war/occupation and resource/land grabs institutionalized through the neoliberal blueprint of EPA (European Union’s Economic Partnership Accords) imposed on African and Caribbean countries, the exploitative CFA currency and Africom. In confronting the above stated imperialist-driven structural basis of dependencies, it is critically important at this Pan-African anniversary to revisit Sankara’s vision of self-directed, self-reliant development aimed at freeing African peoples from imperialist and colonial bondage.

In an effort to keep this legacy alive and to commemorate the life and contribution of Thomas Sankara, the Toronto chapter of GRILA (Group for Research and Initiative for the Liberation of Africa) in collaboration with partners hosted this event in his honor in Toronto on Saturday October 14th, 2017.

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