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Thomas Sankara Marxist revolutionary, Pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987 Viewed by some as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution he is commonly referred to as “African Che Guevara” His revolutionary programs for African self-reliance as a defiant alternative to the neo-liberal development strategies imposed by the West made him an icon to many of Africans poor Sankara remained popular with most of his country’s impoverished citizens However his policies alienated and antagonised the vested interests of an array of groups which included the small but powerful Burkinabé middle class the tribal leaders whom he stripped of the long-held traditional right to forced labour and tribute payments and the foreign financial interests in France and their ally the Ivory Coast. As a result he was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d’état led by the French-backed Blaise Compaoré on October 15, 1987 A week before his execution he declared: While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered but you cannot kill ideas

Makandal Daaga is a Trinidad and Tobago political activist and former revolutionary

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Makandal Daaga is a Trinidad and Tobago political activist and former revolutionary he Raising the level of the black conciousness which changed employment practices in banks and other parts of the private sector and led to the development of state enterprises and Enhancing the growth of a sense of nationalism, culture and race relations in the post-independence period with the formation of Pegasus in 1962, NJAC in 1969 and the historic March to caroni in 1970 and Spearheading the growth of Emancipation to the Caribbean, Western Hemisphere and Africa Three issues Makandal Daaga is committed to address in Laventille West The transfomation of the environment from one of violence and crime to one of peace, goodwill and communal unity and Instilling a sense of self-reliance, confidence and a deeper sense of economic and social development Returning Laventille to its former state of being a spiritual and cultural centre of Trinidad & Tobago Makandal Daaga (formerly Geddes Granger) was born in Laventille, Trinidad, where he resides up to today with his wife Liseli and their four children His intellectual brilliance was demonstrated at an early age when he was awarded a scholarship to attend St. Mary’s College. At an early age he displayed outstanding ability not only in academics but also in sport debating and public speaking In 1962 he formed an organisation named Pegasus which made a great impact on Trinidad and Tobago This organisation comprised some of the most brilliant, influential and prestigious personalities in Trinidad and Tobago at the time It presented national awards to artistes honoured national heroes and instituted the Model United Nations programme involving secondary school students Pegasus organised many educational and cultural programmes nationally and sought to develop national unity and a true sense of independence Makandal Daaga went on to attend the University of the West Indies (UWI) and became President of the Guild of Undergraduates In 1969 whilst being President of the Guild he formed an organisation which has made its mark on Trinidad and Tobago the Caribbean and the international arena This organisation was the National Joint Action Committee popularly known as NJAC and NJAC is well known for the 1970 revolution in Trinidad and Tobago when thousands of people led by Makandal Daaga and NJAC demonstrated continuously for 56 days, from February to April demanding fundamental societal change in the interest of the people and the nation Consequently a State of Emergency was declared on 21st April 1970 and Makandal Daaga and NJAC leadership were imprisoned He was also imprisoned on several other occasions in the 1970s in his struggle for betterment for the people He was also banned from the United States and a number of Caribbean islands The 1970 revolution, however, impacted not only on Trinidad and Tobago but swept through the Caribbean and brought about fundamental political, economic, social, cultural changes Under the leadership of Makandal Daaga, the National Joint Action Committee has been able to impact fundamentally and positively on national life and national consciousness – whether the political, social, religious, cultural, educational or other aspects and in so doing, making a positive contribution to national development An historic contribution was the movement that he led at the helm of NJAC for the unity of the two major races in Trinidad and Tobago, the Africans and the Indians who were victims of the divide and rule policy of the colonial masters and which the local politicians perpetuated The March to Caroni on March 12, 1970 was most instructive as it showed the bonds of love and brotherhood that can exist between these two peoples Under the banner of Indians and Africans unite thousands of Africans marched to Caroni and bonded with their Indian brothers and sisters of Central Trinidad under the leadership of Makandal Daaga and the National Joint Action Committee and One of the significant achievements of the National Joint Action Committee in recent times based on the initiative of Makandal Daaga has been the Internationalisation of the Commemoration of August 1st, Emancipation Day After NJAC had successfully campaigned to have August 1st declared a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago (this came to being in 1985) Makandal Daaga in 1996 initiated a campaign to be spearheaded by one of the institutions of NJAC the Caribbean Historical Society to have August 1st commemorated as Emancipation Day in the region and throughout the world He believed that this would serve as a focal point around which Africans throughout the world could rally and focus Today the political leader of NJAC and the Chief Servant Makandal Daaga continues to lead an organisation which like himself remains committed to positive change in the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean There are indeed very few leaders who have been able to so profoundly affect the landscape of political, social and cultural life in the Caribbean and to impact on the international arena as Makandal Daaga has been able to do

On 15 October 1987 a revolution was brought

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On 15 October 1987 a revolution was brought to an abrupt and bloody end by the murder of Thomas Sankara President of the newly named state of Burkina Faso In the years following Sankara’s assassination by his once trusted friend Blaise Compaoré who runs Burkina Faso to this day his revolution was overturned and the country became just another African fiefdom of the International Monetary Fund. But for a brief period of 4 years, Burkina Faso shone brightly, a stunning example of what can be achieved even in one of the world’s most impoverished countries
Sankara was a junior officer in the army of Upper Volta, a former French colony which was run as a source of cheap labour for neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire to benefit a tiny ruling class and their patrons in Paris As a student in Madagascar, Sankara had been radicalised by waves of demonstrations and strikes taking place In 1981, he was appointed to the military government in Upper Volta but his outspoken support for the liberation of ordinary people in his country and outside eventually led to his arrest. In August 1983, a successful coup led by his friend Blaise Compaoré, brought him to power at the age of only 33 Sankara saw his government as part of a wider process of the liberation of his people Immediately he called for mobilisations and committees to defend the revolution These committees became the cornerstone of popular participation in power Political parties on the other hand were dissolved, seen by Sankara as representatives of the forces of the old regime. In 1984, Sankara renamed the country Burkina Faso (land of people of integrity) Sankara purged corruption from the government, slashing ministerial salaries and adopting a simpler approach to life Journalist Paula Akugizibwe says Sankara “rode a bicycle to work before he upgraded, at his Cabinet’s insistence, to a Renault 5 one of the cheapest cars available in Burkina Faso at the time He lived in a small brick house and wore only cotton that was produced, weaved and sewn in Burkina Faso In fact the adoption of local clothes and local foods was central to Sankara’s economic strategy to break the country from the domination of the West. He famously said Where is imperialism Look at your plates when you eat These imported grains of rice, corn, and millet – that is imperialism His solution was to grow food – “Let us consume only what we ourselves control” The results were incredible: self-sufficiency in 4 years Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Jean Ziegler says that a combination of massive land distribution, fertiliser and irrigation saw agricultural productivity boom; “hunger was a thing of the past”Similar gains were made in health, with the immunisation of millions of children, and education in a country which had had over 90% illiteracy. Basic infrastructure was built to connect the country. Resources were nationalised, local industry was supported. Millions of trees were planted in an attempt to stop desertification. All of this involved a huge mobilisation of Burkina Faso’s people, who began to build their country with their own hands, something Sankara saw as essential There have been few revolutionary leaders who have placed such emphasis on women’s liberation as Sankara. He saw the emancipation of women as vital to breaking the hold of the feudal system on the country. This included recruiting women into all professions, including the military and the government. It entailed ending the pressure on women to marry. And it meant involving women centrally in the grassroots revolutionary mobilisation “We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or out of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph” He saw the struggle of Burkina Faso’s women as “part of the worldwide struggle of all women Sankara was more than a visionary national leader – perhaps of most interest to us today is the way he used international conferences as platforms to demand leaders stand up against the deep structural injustices faced by countries like Burkina Faso. In the mid 1980s, that meant speaking out on the question of debt Sankara used a conference of the Organisation of African Unity in 1987 to persuade fellow African leaders to repudiate their debts. He told delegates: “Debt is a cleverly managed reconquest of Africa It is a reconquest that turns each one of us into a financial slave” Seeing these same leaders go off one-by-one to Western governments to get a slight restructuring of their debt, he urged common, public action that would free all of Africa from domination. “If Burkina Faso alone were to refuse to pay the debt, I wouldn’t be at the next conference” Unfortunately, he wasn’t to be Of course not everything Sankara tried worked. Most controversially was his response to a teachers strike, when he sacked thousands of teachers, replacing them with an army of citizens teachers who were often completely unqualified. Sankara’s system of revolutionary courts were abused by those with personal grievances. He banned trade unions as well as political parties Some of these measures, combined with break-neck social transformation, provided space for his enemies. Sankara was assassinated in a coup carried out by Blaise Compaoré It seems clear there was outside support, including of French stooge President Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Cote d’Ivoire. Sankara’s revolution was rolled back by his one time associate, and Burkina Faso became another African country whose economy becomes synonymous with poverty and helplessness Today Sankara is not well known outside Africa his character and ideas simply don’t fit with the notion of Africa which has been constructed in the West over the last 30 years. It would be difficult to find a less corrupt, self-serving leader than Thomas Sankara anywhere in the world. But neither does he fit the image charities like to portray of the ‘deserving poor’ in Africa Sankara was clear on the role of Western aid, just as he was clear on the role of debt in controlling Africa The root of the disease was political. The treatment could only be political. Of course, we encourage aid that aids us in doing away with aid But in general, welfare and aid policies have only ended up disorganizing us, subjugating us, and robbing us of a sense of responsibility for our own economic, political, and cultural affairs. We chose to risk new paths to achieve greater well-being The improvement in the lives of Burkina Faso’s people was astounding as a result of Sankara’s policies, yet he wouldn’t be surprised to learn that these policies have been systematically undermined by Western governments and agencies claiming to want exactly these improvements themselves Perhaps today, Sankara’s words are most relevant to our own crisis in Europe. They are echoed by those in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland who have heard little of him Those who led us into debt were gambling, as if they were in a casino there is talk of a crisis. No They gambled They lost We cannot repay the debt because we have nothing to pay it with. We cannot repay the debt because it is not our responsibility Thomas Sankara had great belief in people not just the people of Burkina Faso or Africa, but people across the world He believed change must be creative, nonconformist indeed containing “a certain amount of madness” He believed radical change would only come when people were convinced and active, not passive and conquered And he believed the solution is political not one of charity Surely Sankara has never been more relevant to our quest for justice in Europe and the world

May 29, 1944 – Birthday of Maurice Bishop

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May 29, 1944 – Birthday of Maurice Bishop Grenadian leader

Bishop was a Grenadian revolutionary in the New Jewel Movement who became Prime Minister of the People’s Revolutionary Government of Grenada with the 1979 revolution Bishop was killed in 1983 in an internal struggle in the revolutionary movement. Days later, the U.S. took advantage of the situation to invade Grenada and overthrow the revolutionary government, returning Paul Scoon to power, who had been appointed Governor General of Grenada by the U.K.’s Queen Elizabeth II in 1978

(in image: Maurice Bishop with Nicaraguan Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega and Cuban leader Fidel Castro)

 

Pan Africanism fundamentally stands for the disproof of

Pan Africanism fundamentally stands for the disproof of African inferiority and the unison of African people and their descents in regards to political and fiscal cooperation awareness of culture and history and independence The prevalent development of Pan Africanism was a necessary reaction to European colonization in the continent of Africa during the 19th century Pan Africanism is also widespread due to the African Diaspora which involved enslaved Africans who were coerced into a system of exploitation Political movements in the Americas Europe and Africa aimed for a reunification of solidarity to fight against this type of cruel oppression Knowledge of Pan Africanism is especially in reference to Afrocentric interpretation instead of the Anglo-Saxon interpretation African Congresses and African Associations such as African Unification Front All-African People’s Revolutionary Party Pan Africanist Congress of Azania Pan-African Federation and The Council of African Affairs have been created to maintain the foundation of this movement and fight against exploitation. Pan African culture intends to share the suffering and oppression and more importantly the resistance of people of African descent against heinous treatment African people and people of African descent have struggled for African liberation and continental cohesion maximizing advantages poverty reduction lessening stigmatization from a race-based social hierarchy the preservation of culture and human dignity and the necessary tools to repair adverse conditions that thwart the economic development of African countries and other people in different parts the world today

Brief history of the African Liberation Day

Agwambo Odera (Press release)—On 15 April 1958, in the city of Accra, Ghana, African leaders and political activists gathered at the first conference of independent African states It was attended by representatives of the governments of Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, The United Arab Republic (which was the federation of Egypt and Syria) and representatives of the National Liberation Front of Algeria and the Union of Cameroonian PeoplesThis conference was significant in that it represented the collective expression of African Peoples’ disgust with the system of colonialism and imperialism, which brought so much suffering to African people. Further, it represented the collective will to see the system of colonialism permanently done away with After 500 years of the most brutal suffering known to humanity, the rape of Africa and subsequent slave, which cost Africa in excess of about 100,000,000 of her children, the masses of African people singularly, separately, individually, in small disconnected groupings for centuries had said ‘enough!’ But in 1958, at the Accra conference, it was being said in ways that emphasised joint, coordinated and unified action. This conference gave sharp clarity and definition to Pan Africanism, the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism. The conference as well laid the foundation and the strategy for the further intensification and coordination of the next stage of the African revolution for the liberation of the rest of Africa, and eventual and complete unificationThe conference called for the founding of African Freedom Day, a day to ‘mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolise the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploration  Five years later after the first conference of independent African states in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia another historical meeting occurred On 25 May 1963, leaders of 32 independent Africa states met to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). By then more than two thirds of the continent had achieved independence from colonial rule. At that historic meeting, the date of Africa Freedom Day was changed from 15 April to 25 May and Africa Freedom Day was declared African Liberation Day African Liberation Day has since then been held on 25 May in every corner of the world African Liberation Day as an institution within the Pan African movement reflects the growth and development of Pan Africanism When Pan Africanism was faced with fighting colonialism, the focus of African Liberation Day was on the anti colonial struggle and the fight for national independence. As Pan Africanism grew stronger and developed into a more mature objective African Liberation Day activities reflected this maturation African Liberation Day has contributed to the struggle to raise the level of political awareness and organisation in African communities worldwide. It has further been used as a tool to provide a platform for many African and other oppressed peoples to inform the African masses about their respective struggles for true liberation and development Particularly for Southern Africa, African Liberation Day played a critical role in the defeat of colonialism and apartheid It inspired others to support through various progressive organisations, liberation committees and movements both in Africa and the socialist countries around the world, the building of anti colonial and national liberation movements by generating arms for the freedom fighters, offering a platform where the world could receive political education on the nature of the struggle, and providing a mass assembly where the spirit and moral of the freedom fighters could be reinvigorated. African Liberation Day has helped to expose US led imperialism, Zionism and colonialism as enemies of Africa Imperialists for decades have attempted to distance African Liberation Day (and the African Revolution in general) from the struggle for socialism. Remember that it was, and is, capitalist Europe, and not the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, China or Vietnam which occupied, colonised and exploited Africa. Several states in Africa today stand independent because of military and other assistance from socialist countries From the first African Liberation Day held in Accra, Ghana where Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah planted the first seed to the hundreds of African Liberation Day observances which have occurred all over the world African Liberation Day stands committed to the struggle for national independence African redemption, African liberation African unification and scientific socialism Today, African Liberation Day activities are being organised throughout Africa and all over the world where African people are living and struggling. The journey down the revolutionary path can only be accomplished by joining a revolutionary organisation working for the people The freedom of Africa and African people demands revolutionary action through revolutionary organization