Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, has called on the people of Burkina Faso not to allow corruption, arrogance and high-handedness of people in political authority to derail the political freedom they have won through their blood and toil.
The former President, who is the Honorary Chair of the Thomas Sankara Memorial Project, was in Burkina Faso for a three-day visit as part of activities marking the formal launch of the project.
In his address at the launch in Ouagadougou on Sunday, the former President said the efforts that led to the popular people’s uprising of 2014 and more significantly, the daring standoff against the presidential guards in 2015 were a manifestation of the ideals that Thomas Sankara stood for.
He added; “No matter how long a people feel oppressed, the strength of courage and defiance is more powerful than any force in the world. The actions of ordinary unarmed patriots of Burkina Faso charging into the streets and refusing to go back home in 2014 and 2015 was an image that astounded the world and proved that real people’s power still existed in our part of the world.”
Former President Rawlings commended the people of Burkina Faso for deciding to institute a memorial for the late Thomas Sankara, stating; “Sankara’s goal of combating corruption and taking the destiny of his country into his people’s hands, in contrast to the overbearing dominance of the French colonial power, may have seen a significant setback very much like in my own country. But as Sankara himself said: “While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill the ideas”.
The best way to perpetuate Sankara’s legacy, President Rawlings said, was to focus on building on the strong foundation blocks of nationwide literacy campaigns, decentralisation, promotion of public health, reforestation and agricultural growth, which Sankara initiated during his tenure of office.
The former President in his meeting with President Kabore on Saturday, October 1, said the institution of a memorial monument for Sankara was not restricted to the people of Burkina Faso or West Africa, but also for a global audience who respected the late revolutionary leader.
“There are those of us who believe in empowering people and Sankara was a believer in empowering the people,” the former Ghanaian President said.
Flt Lt Rawlings urged President Kabore and the people of Burkina Faso not to squander the opportunity to rectify the mistakes of the past. He said investment in education and information on the state of the country’s economy would ensure that the masses understood that it would take a considerable period to turn the socio-economic situation around.
The former President counselled President Kabore and his team to show modesty in their lifestyle and decried how others had been swayed by the desire to stay in power that they were ready to kill to perpetuate their tenure.
President Kabore expressed his country’s gratitude to Flt Lt Rawlings for accepting to chair the Sankara Memorial Project.
“You and Sankara were a model for African youth hence your nomination and Burkina Faso will always be grateful and proud of your support,” President Kabore said.
President Rawlings also held meetings with the President of the Burkinabe National Assembly, Salif Diallo, and Francois Yameogo, the military prosecutor appointed to investigate circumstances surrounding the demise of Captain Thomas Sankara in 1987.