The 15th october in London, Thomas Sankara’s remembrance
Monday evening saw about 50 people gather at the LSE to remember Thomas Sankara and his fight to end Africa’s debt bondage, 20 years on from his assassination.
Kofi Mawuli Klu (Rendezvous of Victory) started the discussion with a passionate plea for campaigners to remember why and for what they are really campaigning; to look to the grassroots movements in Africa for inspiration and direction. He encouraged Western campaigners not to be concerned about leadership in African countries but to challenge their own politicians and trust Southern activists to lobby theirs.
Ibrahim Hamani Souley (CAD-Mali) followed Kofi by narrating some of Thomas Sankara’s story. He told us about Sankara’s actions while he was president of Burkina Faso in actively pushing for and enabling the independence of his people from European neo-colonialists. As we campaign against harmful conditions that are often attached to debt relief, we can remember Sankara’s example as he refused to be dictated to by the French when he supported his cotton producing farmers. Sankara’s example as a competent leader acting for the good of his people showed us that despite the inadequacy of many ruling groups across the globe, there are others who are able, and willing, to create good policy for the benefit of the poor.
Stephen Rand (JDC) ended the opening statements with an explanation of the progress of the Jubilee Debt Campaign in the UK and how this has directly benefited the people of poor countries. He emphasised how much more debt needs to be cancelled and how essential it is for rich governments to adopt a commitment to Responsible Lending in order to prevent another crisis.
Questions from the floor showed great understanding of, interest in and enthusiasm for the need to remove the burden of debt from the lives of those suffering in poor countries. The forum encouraged us not to get bogged down in the day to day of campaigning, but to welcome new ideas and listen to other voices. Thomas Sankara’s example of independence against conditions attached to debt relief and the domination of rich nations in the internal policy of poor countries, is one that should be remembered but also used to guide our current actions.


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