I first met president Thomas Sankara in 1986 at Harare we were in Zimbabwe to attend a Non-aligned Summit chaired by comrade Robert Mugabe when he was still of sober disposition.
President Sankara made a passionate and eloquent speech at the conference which received a standing ovation. I witnessed another stellar performance by him at the UN General Assembly, New York in 1986.
On his return journey to Burkina Faso, president Sankara stopped at Entebbe to meet his counterpart for bilateral talks then Foreign minister Ibrahim Mukiibi and your columnist were designated to see him off at Harare International Airport. We spent almost three hours at the VIP lounge waiting for a flight because unlike most African leaders, president Sankara always travelled on regular commercial flights, not the latest Gulfstream .
I was impressed by Sankara’s intellectual ability, humility, patience and commitment to the African revolution, which revolution has unfortunately been hijacked by impostors, pseudo-revolutionaries and lackeys of imperialism, such as Monsieur Compaore.
Like Che Guevara, Sankara was not an armchair revolutionary as my friend Allan Opidi (RIP) used to jokingly call me in the 1960s Sankara practised what he preached without fear or favour!
In 1987, that arch-enemy of the African revolution staged a bloody military coup with the backing of some external enemies of the African revolution who feared the impact of Sankara’s revolutionary ideas on the rest of Africa. Comrade Sankara was assassinated and Blaise Compaore hastily installed as president of Burkina Faso. President Sankara’s tragic death was a severe blow to and a big loss for the cause of progressive forces in Africa.
Compaore’s early bosom friends were the likes of Muammar Gaddafi, Charles Taylor and a serial killer called Forde Sanko. These predatory birds of the same feather were feared, despised and detested in equal measure throughout West Africa they remind me of some wretched characters in Mario Puzo’s classic novel, The Godfather.
God is watching all men of violence who have oppressed, tortured and killed thousands of innocent and law-abiding Africans and He must be anguished and disgusted by the suffering of wananchi it would not surprise me to hear that the Lord has already deleted some names from the Book of Life.
Like a chameleon, Compaore changed colours, switched sides and started to wear French designer suits instead of military fatigues to hoodwink all and sundry, especially the donor community. He became a friend of the West and a peace broker in West Africa, playing a mediator’s role in internal conflicts in the Ivory Coast and Mali which bought him foreign support, time and money to rent support at home. Beneath the facade there was no change the man’s vampire instincts remained untamed.
With the exception of the name Burkina Faso which president Sankara gave, Compaore deliberately and systematically reversed all the gains and progressive initiatives president Sankara introduced, such as land reform, an agrarian revolution, measures to empower the youth through education and employment and measures to revamp the economy of this poverty-stricken country.
Lesson one is that no African leader, however, cunning and ruthless can fool all the people all the time. Ask the self-styled “king of kings” Gaddafi ask Mobutu and Compaore.
Second, from now any African leader who attempts to tamper with the national constitution for personal gain must be rejected and chased into exile by wananchi like a thief.
Third, African leaders must stop treating citizens as if they are subjects of a colonial empire with no human rights and fundamental freedoms! All Africans deserve and must be treated with human dignity as citizens with human rights.
Fourth, the African Union must adopt a resolution at the earliest opportunity to make it mandatory for all African countries to enshrine in national constitutions a two-term presidential limit of 5 years each. Any leader who has already done 10 years in office must step down and elections held to choose a new leader.
Fifth, time has come for Africans to choose leaders with clean hands Africa deserves leaders whose hands are not soaked with blood like Compaore. Africans across the continent must demand and elect to leadership positions men and women of integrity who have clean hands.
In this connection, I thank former East African Community secretary general Amanya Mushega for his frank and timely interview published in the Sunday Monitor of November 2, in which he condemned people who are trying to blackmail, frighten and silence Ugandans by reminding us that they fought and shed blood of thousands of innocent Ugandans in order to take power primarily for personal gain. Shedding of blood of human beings is not something to boast of or for which Ugandans need a painful reminder.
Sixth, since power ultimately belongs to God, men with blood on their hands should not be permitted to exercise power on behalf of and for the good of the people. I appeal to religious leaders to pray unceasingly for the will of God to be done in Africa they should stop colluding with dishonest and double-faced politicians.
To the youth of Uganda, I am sorry some selfish men of my generation have ruined your future. Do not buy the big lie that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow because when tomorrow comes, you will find that most jobs and opportunities have already been ring-fenced for the sons, daughters, in-laws and tribesmen of the “Big Men”. Like the gallant youth of Burkina Faso you must collectively learn to take the destiny of the beloved country in your hands.
As the Greek philosopher Pericles wrote, the secret of liberty is courage! And that is the plain truth.
At a personal level, today is my son Germain Acemah’s birthday. Like father, he is an old boy of “the School” aka Busoga College Mwiri. Happy Birthday Germain. May the Lord bless and keep you.
Mr Acemah is a political scientist, consultant and a retired career diplomat. firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Daily Monitor