1896-French Colonial Forces Invade and Conquer the Great Mossi People Kingdoms of Wagadugu,Tenkodogo and Yatenga that had existed from as early as 12th Century.The Territory that is Today known as Burkina Faso became French Upper Volta Colony.The Colony was named after the Volta River found in both Burkina Faso and Ghana.
December 1958-Upper Volta attains internal Self-Government under Franco-African French Community.Later on August 5,1960,Upper Volta Territory Regained its Independence from France.
Maurice Yameogo who had maneuvered from being a Councillor at Koudougou through to UDV-RDA Politics became the first President of Independent Upper Volta.
Upon taking Office;President Yameogo banned Political Opposition Parties making the Country a One Party State.Yameogo ruled until January 3,1966 when a People’s Uprising against his Regime forced him to Surrender Power to the Army through his Chief of Staff Lt.Col Sangoule Lamizana.
Lamizana ruled for 14-Years until November 5,1980 when Colonel Saye Zerbo deposed him. Col.Zerbo ruled for 2-Years until November 7,1982 when his Secretary of State for Captain Thomas Sankara and Major Dr.Jean Baptiste alias JBO deposed him.Sankara was designated to take over Leadership but he declined saying he was not ready for the Responsibility;he proposed Maj.Dr JBO to take over and so it happened.Sankara became JBO’s Prime Minister.
Ideological Differences saw JBO fall out with his Young Charismatic Prime Minister Thomas Sankara whose Influence was fast-growing.JBO cracked the Whip by firing Thomas Sankara,a move that did not sit well the Military and General Public.Captain Blaise Compaore organized a Coup in Solidarity with his Colleague Thomas Sankara ending JBO’s Regime on August 4,1983 paving way for Sankara to rise to the Top.
Thomas Sankara’s Great but Short-lived 4-Years Administration
At the Age of 33,Captain Thomas Sankara;a Hands-on Afro-Centric Revolutionary took Power with his Colleague and Ally Captain Blaise Compaore as his Deputy.Inspired by Revolutionary Ideals of Karl Max,Vladimir,Jerry Rawlings,Fidel Castro,Che Guevara et al;Sankara led One of the Greatest and Historic Government Administration in the History of Africa until October 15,1987 when his Comrade and Deputy Blaise Compaore led a Bloody Coup that saw Sankara Murdered in Cold-blood.His Short-lived Administration is however the most Consequential,Progressive,Remarkable Adminstration in Burkina Faso and One of the most Memorable in Africa and beyond.
Sankara Renamed his Country from its Colonial Name of ‘Upper Volta’ to ‘Burkina Faso’ which means the Land of the “Honest,Incorruptible and Upright”.As an Passionate Guitarist,Sankara also composed a New National Anthem for his Country.
In just 4 Years; Here are some Key Achievements of Thomas Sankara ‘s Administration
Vaccination of over 2.5 Million Children
Panting of 10 Million Trees to curb Desertification
His Education and Literacy Campaign saw increased Schhol Enrollment with Literacy Rate rsing from 13% to 73%
Women Empowerment and Rights;he Outlawed FGM,Early Marriages and Polygamy and introduced Family Planning Education giving Young Girls and Women an Opportunity to attend School just like their Male Counterparts.He Appointed Women in influential Government Positions and Public Service saying “There is No true Social Revolution without the Liberation of Women
He introduced Cost-cutting and Austerity Measures in Government to curb Wastage of Public Funds.He sold off expensive Mercedes used by his Cabinet and brought in modest Renault Cars,Stopped the use of Chauffers and First Class Air Travel in a bid to Cut Government Spending.He introduced Salary Cuts for all Government Officers beginning with himself to mobilize Funds for State Development Projects. He urged Public Officers to contribute their One Month Salary every Year to Fund Development Projects;all these in a bid to avoid Foreign Aid and Loans to Fund Development. Sankara wanted to Stop the Mentality of Dependency.He warned his People and Africans against Aid saying “he who feeds You controls You”.
He built Roads,Railway Lines,Schools,Hospitals,Public Houses and other Development Infrastructure like the Country’s first Supermarket without Foreign Aid and Donor Funds. He Shunned Loans and Assistance from Imperial Bretton Woods and Paris Club Financial Institution
He redistributed Land from Feudal Landlords and gave it Peasnt Farmers who he empowered to make Burkina Faso Food-Sufficient for the first Time. Since his Murder;Burkina Faso has been facing recurring acute Food Shortage and insecurity
He revamped and empowered the Cotton Industry,Wore Clothes made by Burkinabe Tailors using Burkinabe Cotton and Urged Public Officers and all Citizens to do the same. On the July 1987 OAU Summit he promoted Burkinabe Fabric and urged African Leaders to promote Local Industries saying “Let us also make the African market be the market for Africans: produce in Africa, transform in Africa,consume in Africa. Let’s produce what we need and let’s consume what we produce instead of importing.Burkina Faso came here showing the Cotton Fabric produced in Burkina Faso,weaved in Burkina Faso,sown in Burkina Faso to dress citizens of Burkina Faso.Our delegation and I are dressed by our weavers, our peasants.There is not a single thread coming from Europe or America. I would not do a fashion show but I would simply say that we must accept to live as African;that is the only way to live free and dignified”
He spoke Boldly and Vehemently against Imperialism and Neocolonialism in all its Manifestations.At the July 1987 OAU Summit he called on African Leaders against repaying Imperial Debt. “Those who led us to indebtedness gambled as if in a casino. As long as they had gains, there was no debate. We cannot repay because we don’t have any means to do so.We cannot pay because we are not responsible for this debt. Debt’s origins come from colonialism’s origins. Those who lend us money are those who colonized us. They are the same ones who used to manage our states and economies. These are the colonizers who indebted Africa through their brothers and cousins, who were the lenders. We had no connections with this debt. Therefore we cannot pay for it. We cannot repay but the others owe us what the greatest wealth could never repay, that is blood debt. Our blood had flowed. We hear about the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe’s economy. But we never hear about the African plan which allowed Europe to face Hitlerian hordes when their economies and their stability were at stake. Who saved Europe? Africa. It is rarely mentioned, to such a point that we cannot be the accomplices of that thankless silence. If others cannot sing our praises, at least we must say that our fathers had been courageous and that our troops had saved Europe and set the world free from Nazism”-President Thomas Sankara speaking against Imperial,Neocolonial Debt and Debt Trap Diplomacy at the OAU Summit of July 1987 in Addis Ababa. It’s at this Conference that Thomas Sankara predicted his Death-(which happened barely 3 Months after this Conference)- in his his Resolute Debt Subject Presentation he said; “I would want our Conference to take on the urgent need to plainly say that we cannot repay the Debt. Not in a Warlike or Bellicose Spirit but to prevent us from being individually Assassinated. If Burkina Faso stands alone in refusing to pay, I will Not be here for the next conference but with Everyone’s Support which I need we would not have to pay. In doing so,we would devote our meager Resources to our own Development”.Sankara said that “Debt;Controlled and Dominated by Imerialism is a Skillfully managed Reqonquest of Africa”. TODAY; All African Countries are trapped in Debt Diplomacy with their Imperial Lenders with close to a Half of them already in Debt Distress.
Sankara made Sports and Exercise compulsory for all Burkinabes;every Monday and Thursday all Citizens were required to Exercise and take part in Sports as a Measure to keep them Fit and Healthy for Nation building.
Sankara;a Modest Man is said to have only owned a Car,4 Bikes,3 Guitars and a Fridge; He refrained from Greedy Accumulation of Wealth that is Commonplace among many African Leaders To-date. He refrained from building a Personality Cult around himself;he stopped Burkinabes from hanging his Photo in Government Offices and elsewhere; Unprecedented in Africa saying “There are 7 Million Sankara’s”-referring to the Population of Burkina Faso back then.
Sankara’s Model Administration attracted many Enemies from within Burkina Faso and beyond.He indeed became a marked Man.
His Comrade Blaise Compaore in an alleged Scheme led by France Regime under President Francois Mitterand and the DGSE,CIA through Liberian Rebel Charles Taylor,Paris Regime Puppets-Presidents Eyadema Gnassingbe of Togo and Felix Houphouet of Ivory Coast organized a Coup to Topple Thomas Sankara. On October 15,1987; Mutineering Soldiers stormed Sankara’s special Cabinet Meeting at CNR Headquarters spraying Bullets to Everyone. Sankara and 12 Senior Members of his Cabinet/Government were Murdered in Cold Blood with Sankara being sprayed with at least a Dozen Bullets. His Body was then picked and hurriedly buried at Unmarked Graved on the Evening on that very Day. Blaise Compaore took Power on that very Day.
Blaise Compaore’s Long and Largely Failed 27-Year’s Regime
Upon taking Office;Blaise became an Autocrat,he reversed and abandoned Sankara’s Progressive Policies returning Burkina Faso to hands of Neocolonial France and other Imperialists.He made Burkina Faso a largely Backwater Republic for 27-Years until October 2014 when his Attempt to extend his Regime further by Amending the Constitution provoked Burkinabes who forced him Out through a People’s Uprising.He fled to neigbouring Ivory Coast where he was offered Citizenship and lives there To-Date. A Military and Civilian Council led by Diplomat and former Foreign Affairs Minister Michel Kafando led the Country until Novedmber 2015 when General Elections were held.
On May 2015;the first State-Authorized Exhumation of the Site where Sankara’s Remains are believed to have been buried was done in a bid to seek Justice for his Wife Mariam and his 2 Children Auguste and Phillippe. All previous attempts to do this were blocked by Compaore’s Regime. DNA Tests on remains belived to be Sankara’s did not prove to be 100% his but more Tests are said to be ongoing.
A Special Military Court investigating Sankara’s Assasination issued an International Arrest Warrant against Blaise Compaore on December 2015 but the Ivoirian Government has refused to extradite him for Trial. Other Senior Officers in Blaise’s Regime led by his former Chief of Staff Gen.Gilbert Diendere who briefly took Power after Compaore’s Fall on October 31,2014,Compaore’s former Security Chief Hyacinthe Kafando also believed to be hiding in Ivory Coast and some other 8 Presidential Guards have been found Guilty of Killing Sankara and 12 others in the Ocober 15,1987 Military Coup.
In his Visit to France in 2017;France President Emmanuel Macron promised to Declassify French Documents concerning Sankara’s Assassination but that still remains a Promise to this Day.
President Roch Marc Kabore’s Administration
A General Election was organized and held on November 2015. Roch Marc Kabore;a Banker by Profession who had previously served in 4 different Government Ministries since 1989 under Blaise Compaore,Prime Minister and special Advisor to President Blaise Compaore,he at one time headed Compaore’s CDP Party and the Country’s National Assembly Won the Presidential Election. Kabore was a Loyalist of Blaise until the October 2014 People’s Revolt against Blaise when he decamped from Blaise’s Party to form his own Party-MPP-which he used to Campaign and Win the November 2015 Presidential Election with 1.6 Million Votes or 53% against 13 other Candidates. His MPP Party managed to Win 55/127 Seats in Parliament.
Fast-forward 5-Years later;President Marc Kabore is seeking his Second and last Term in Office in the Election of November 22,2020 Elections but his 5-Years Report Card amid what is set to be a hotly contested Election with 12 other Candidates against him; Securing Victory in the First-round will be hard for Kabore.
Kabore has fairly delivered on some Key Sectors like his 2015 Promise of Free Women and Child Healthcare where Women and Children under the Age of 5 are now able to get Free Healthcare Services in Public Hospitals. On the Energy Sector;Kabore’s Government has built the largest Solar Power Project in West Africa at Zagtouli, he has also built the long-awaited Samendeni Multi-Purpose Dam Project. His Government has also built the largest Road Interchange in Northern Ouagadougou to ease Traffic in the Capital. There has also been Significant improvement of Health and Education Facilities and Infrastructure in the Country.
The Scourge of deadly Terrorism through Islamic Extremism and Radicalization mixed with Violent and sometimes deadly Inter-Tribal/Ethnic Clashes remains a huge Challenge marring Kabore’s Government 5 Years on. A Significant Area in Northern Burkina Faso near the turbulent Regions where Mali and Niger share a Border with Burkina Faso has fallen under different Islamic Extremist Terror Groups who control the Area. Schhools, Hospitals and other Public Facilities in that Area have occasionally been closed in the face of Extremist Terror and Violence. At least 1455 Burkinabe Schools were occasionally closed 2019 in 6 out of 13 Administrative Regions of Burkina Faso mostly in the North due to Extremist Violence and Terror Attacks according to a Ministry of Education Report. Some Gold Mines in the turbulent Areas have also fallen under the control of Armed Terror Groups. Poverty, Marginalization, Scarcity of Resources and Religious Extremism are said to be among the leading Causes of Radicalization to Terrorism, Tribal Animosity and Violence. Jihadist Attacks and Ethnic Violence which sometime Fuel each other have claimed the Lives of at least 2,000 People-(mostly Civilians and a significant Number of Government Soldiers)-in Burkina Faso between 2015 To-Date according to International News Agencies. At least 1 Million People have fled their Homes and are still internally displaced by this Crisis according to Relief Web.
Food Scarcity and Insecurity also remains a huge Challenge in Burkina Faso with some 3.3 Million Burkinabes estimated to be facing acute Food Insecurity according to FAO and WFP Report of August 2020.
BURKINA FASO November 22,2020 Presidential Election
A total of 13 Candidates including Incumbent 63-Years old Roch Kabore will be competing for Bukina Faso’s highest Office in this Election. A total of 6.4 Million Burkinabes are registered to Vote in Election across the 13 Regions of this Country according to Electoral Commision-CENI-Chair Ahmed Newton Barry.
President Kabore’s main Challengers in this Election are; former Prime Minister 67-Years old Kadre Desire, former Minister 52-Years old Gilbert Noel, 2015 Presidential Election Runners-up also former Minister 61-Years old Zephirin Diabre; all the 3 served in Blaise’s Regime. Other Key Candidates are Kabore’s former Culture Minister 45-Years old Tahirou Barry who came Third in the 2015 Presidential Election,54-Years old Businessman Eddie Komboigo who is being seen as the Candidate of exiled Blaise Compaore/CDP Regime,Influential Lawyer/Politician 41-Years old Abdoulaye Soma and 47-Years old Monique Yeli who is the only Woman Candidate in this Election.
The Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Council have both admitted that Thousands of Eligible Voters did not manage to get registered and Thousands of those who managed to register will not be able to Cast their Votes in the turbulent Areas where Terrorist Groups have taken Hold.
BURKINA FASO Quick Fact-File
Burkina Faso is a Landlocked Country in West Africa Home to 21 Million People. It’s bordered by 6 Countries;Mali,Niger,Ivory Coast,Ghana,Togo and Benin.
With a GDP per Capita of $775, a Global Rank of Position 182/189 Countries in Human Development Index;40% of Burkina Faso still live below the International Poverty Line of $1.90 a Day.
Burkina Faso is still among the 33 ‘Least developed Countries’ in Sub-saharan Africa. It’s still a Low Income Country mainly dependent on Agriculture and Mining.
Burkina Faso is among the Top 5 Gold producing Countries in Africa. It also has significant Deposits of Zinc, Copper, Iron among other Minerals that are yet to be fully explored and utilized.
Burkina Faso is among Africa’s Top Cotton producing Countries.
The Ruins of Loropeni-a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Loropeni- and Reserve de Nazinga Game Ranch are among the Top Tourist Sites in Burkina Faso.
Burkina Faso’s official Language is French-inherited from former Colonial Master France- the Mossi, Dyula,Fula and Gourmanche are among the widely spoken Local Languages in the Country.
About 62% of the Population are Muslims with 19% being Christians. The rest practice other Indigenous Beliefs.
The Colonial West African Franc-CFA Franc- is still the Country’s Currency.
Ouagadougou named after ancient Kingdom of Wagadugu is the Capital City; the Largest and most Populous City in Burkina Faso. The Name Ouagadougou means ‘You are welcome here Home with us’.