Saturday, November 01, 2008

Another speech by Thom Sank

Sankara was a big reader, and largely self-taught. His second major speech was the radio address given on August 4, 1983 when his comrade Blaise Compaoré (who was to kill him, in 1987) freed him from arrest (the internal dynamics of the Voltaic army were very complicated!). For all the lament over Sankara's death in 1987 a the hands of Compaore, it should not be forgotten that he helped do the same thing to his former colleague, Colonel Gabriel Somé Yoryam, who was killed on August 9, 1983.

Anyway, back to the speech. My favorite line is about the traitors and betrayers of the nation, leaders of a "submissive and groveling regime"... imagine hearing this as a fifteen year old in Ouagadougou at night: "You know these individuals, because they fraudulently worked their way into the history of our people." The rest of the speech simply says that they are in power and will not do anything rash.

Two weeks later Sankara gave a news conference. The first part focuses on the personality of Sankara, that is, questioners try to ask whether he is in charge, whether this is what he wanted, and Sankara modestly denies much responsibility. He tries to blame the troubles of the past 9 months on Somé Yoryan. H then goes on to affirm a revolutionary character to the new military regime. He dichotomizes: either one is a revolutionary, or a counterrevolutionary to be battled.

A month later on October 2, 1983, Sankara gives the famous "Discours d'Orientation Politique", supposedly largely written by Valère Somé. The speech is thrity pages long... must have taken a couple hours to read. More on that later.

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