Dear members and supporters of our revolutionary movement BLACK FIRST LAND FIRST,
This is a first of Friday messages from the office of the National Convenor of Black First Land First (BLF).
We write this message to you at a time that the country of our revolutionary inspiration, Thomas Sankara is undergoing a deep counter-revolutionary crisis. As you know, last October the people of Burkina Faso stood as one and avenged the betrayal and assassination of Sankara by the reactionary Blaise Compaorè who murdered Sankara and usurped power for 27 years.
The Compaorè regime reversed all the glorious gains of Sankara and returned Burkina Faso to the poorest of nations, deepened dependency and humiliation of the people of Burkina Faso. We all know the great achievement of Sankara, we know that within a short four years he turned his country into a sovereign state with food security and social liberation of all the oppressed groups: the workers, the peasants, and women. Sankara is the first to show that power can be used to serve people and not politicians. We all know that after his murder even his enemies had to concede that he didn’t take any money from the people. He lived simply without the madness of the irrational consumption of cars, houses, expensive whisky, watches and other expensive junk imported from the West.
The Burkinabè October revolution is now in danger. The agents of Compaorè who have control over sections of the army have taken over government from the interim leadership in a coup. They are determined to restore the anti-people neo-colonial corrupt government of Compaorè even in his absence. They are a bunch of armed criminals who should be shot at sight or thrown in jail. They are counter revolutionaries busy re-establising an order which was overthrown by the popular Sankarist uprising.
What do we learn from this tragedy?
First we must realise that the weakness of the Sankarist uprising was its lack of a revolutionary programme to be announced during the revolution and to be supported and imposed by the popular masses in the struggle for liberation. The heroic protestors who burnt down parliament should have proceeded to disband the army and more so the violent and hated “presidential guard”. The revolutionary masses should not have stopped at burning parliament but should have destroyed the entire Compaorè state. The big lesson here is that a revolution cannot be stopped to install a new regime, the revolution itself must institute a new people’s power dispensation. It is a grave mistake to protest, topple a sitting government, and then go home and leave matters in the hands of professional politicians. This is the same mistake that the heroic children of Egypt committed. The children of Pharaoh summoned historic courage. Two million of them where at Tahrir Square and the corrupt government of Mubarak fell. But they then went home and left power in the hands of the army. Today the army is picking them out one by one and either murdering them, or throwing them in jail and throwing the key away. They left power in the square, the army took it and is using it against the revolution.
It is the duty of each one of us to study failed revolutions and successful revolutions. We need to study and understand what the state is and how it is linked to elites locally and globally who control the economy and the army. BLF shall develop a revolutionary programme to guide the revolutionary masses at the point of revolution. Remember the revolution comes like a thief in the night.
We can see how the lack of a minimum programme of revolution, which is internalised by all the leading forces, has also crippled the brave student’s movements on our campuses who are fighting for decolonisation. Who can forget the great moment when the RMF students stormed into the council meeting at UCT and forced the hand of history? The students, through their majestic direct action, gained a date for the removal of the statue. However, they paused and did not press for the substantive demands that go with their decolonisation programme. They could have forced Senate to vote for clear and concrete things: the number of full black professors within a given time frame; they could have demanded that Senate vote for revoking the casualization of labour and replace it with a policy of immediate employment of the support staff on a permanent basis with a basic living wage; they could have argued for the immediate implementation of a curriculum of decolonisation, and also forced Senate to vote for amnesty for all the students involved in the just struggle of Rhodes Must Fall.
Are these demands possible? Could they have been met? We don’t know because they were never put on the table at the most crucial moment when the decolonisation movement had the upper hand. There is no arguing against the strategic and ideological clarity and impeccable courage and sense of timing the RMF students have. They pushed the whole white edifice, it was at its weakest, they had moral and numerical advantage, and they, like the children of Pharaoh, and the children of Sankara, did not go far enough! We have to go far enough each time we gain strategic advantage. This is the golden rule of the revolutionary process.
Now we can say, from Egypt, to UCT, to Ouagadougou, it is not yet the October revolution, it was the February moment. We remember well that the Great Russian revolution of 1917 had a false start in February, then in October the Bolsheviks leading the revolutionary masses toppled the whole system of Tsarist oppression and constituted a new dispensation. It may be good to repeat Lenin’s decrees for pedagogic reasons, so that we may learn the decisiveness and clarity needed at the pinnacle of a revolutionary moment.
The Russian revolution occurred amidst war, counter-revolution, and great uncertainty. However, the leaders of the Bolsheviks were able to meet for six hours a day within two months, had issued 193 new laws which had a massive impact on the revolutionary process. These laws were pronounced over and above the immediate decrees issued during the revolution itself. Below we list some of these important decrees:
1. Russia was to make a swift exit from World War One and the Bolshevik government and the people of Russia were to announce that they believed in peace to all nations.
2. There would be an immediate transfer of land to the peasants.
3. The workers would take control over the means of production and the distribution of goods.
4. The Bolshevik government would take control of the banks, foreign trade, large industries and railways.
5. Any form of inequality based on class, sex, nationality or religion was made illegal.
6. In December 1917 a decree on education was issued that stated:
“Every genuinely democratic power must, in the domain of education, in a country where illiteracy and ignorance reign supreme, make its first aim in the struggle against this darkness. It must acquire in the shortest time universal literacy, by organising a network of schools answering to the demands of modern pedagogics: it must introduce universal, obligatory, and free tuition for all. However needful it may be to curtail other articles of the people’s budget, the expenses on education must stand high. A large educational budget is the pride and glory of a nation.”
Other decrees gave workers’ rights, abolished the rank system in the army, etc.
The land decree which was issued immediately after the revolution is quite decisive, aspects of which are worth quoting in greater detail:
(1) Landed proprietorship is abolished forthwith without any compensation.
(2) The landed estates, as also all crown, monastery, and church lands, with all their livestock, implements, buildings and everything pertaining thereto, shall be placed at the disposal of the volost land committees and the uyezd Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies pending the convocation of the Constituent Assembly.
(3) All damage to confiscated property, which henceforth belongs to the whole people, is proclaimed a grave crime to be punished by the revolutionary courts. The uyezd Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies shall take all necessary measures to assure the observance of the strictest order during the confiscation of the landed estates, to determine the size of estates, and the particular estates subject to confiscation, to draw up exact inventories of all property confiscated and to protect in the strictest revolutionary way all agricultural enterprises transferred to the people, with all buildings, implements, livestock, stocks of produce, etc.
(4) The following peasant Mandate, compiled by the newspaper Izvestia Vserossiiskogo Soveta Krestyanskikh Deputatov from 242 local peasant mandates and published in No. 88 of that paper (Petrograd, No. 88, August 19, 1917), shall serve everywhere to guide the implementation of the great land reforms until a final decision on the latter is taken by the Constituent Assembly.
BLF is committed to learning from the past, all the revolutionary past must be studied so that we do not repeat the mistakes of those who have come before us. Right now the revolution in Burkina Faso can only be rescued by the people returning to the streets in their thousands, if not millions. But this time they have to move to install a revolutionary process and not delegate the task of decolonisation to any professional politicians. We support the call for mass insurrection 100%, to protect the glorious legacy of Thomas Sankara.
The BLF call to boycott the Springboks is just and the only revolutionary stance to take in the face of 20 years of white domination. We remain consistent supporters of decolonization, because one cannot say #RhodesMustFall and not say #WhiteSpringboksMustFall! Only reactionaries and opportunists would support a team that doesn’t reflect the country it represents!
Remember Jafta Masemola!
Tomorrow, 19 September, the PAC unveils the tombstone of one of the most brilliant liberation warriors – Jafta Masemola. BLF pledges its support to the great memory of the son of the soil and Tiger of Azania, who spent more years on Robben Island than any other political prisoner.
Wishing you a Black First weekend!
Issued by the National Convenor of BLF