Black First Land First (BLF) calls on everyone, especially those engaging in revolutionary struggle and aspiring for political office to follow the example of the great Burkina Faso leader, Thomas Sankara.
In 1983 through a revolutionary coup and various campaigns like ‘Homeland or Death’ and changing the country’s name that advocated self reliance, return of the land and economy, as well as anti corruption, Thomas Sankara rose to power in what was then known at the Upper Volta. Upon becoming President, Sankara rechristened the country ‘Burkina Faso’ which means ‘Land of Honest People’ which in turn captures what being a Burkinabé is – proud, free, honest, and hard-working. Also renaming the country fostered national unity by combining ‘Burkina’ which is the Mooré word for ‘honest’, with ‘Faso’ being the Jula word for ‘homeland’.
In a space of four years Sankara made profound changes including facilitating women’s liberation via land return, ending polygamy, and banning forced marriages and other harmful practices against women; making the cheapest car at that time, the Renault 5, the official vehicle for ministers; reducing his salary as well as that of all government officials; ending the use of chauffeurs and first class airline seats; achieving food security; and democratising power to facilitate more participatory governance. His visionary project was brought to an abrupt end by a pro-imperialist assassination led by Blaise Compaoré who replaced him in office and reversed all the revolutionary gains under him.
Thirty one years after his death there’s one movement that has become restive and revitalized Sankara’s spirit − BLF. When BLF says “Land or Death” we mean as Sankara did “Homeland or Death, We will Overcome”. BLF has boldly incorporated the Sankarist leadership ethos. To this end we say in our constitution that ‘[a]ny BLF member who has been elected into office as a public representative and who is subsequently found to have been conducting herself/himself contrary to what is required of her/him in terms of “The Thomas Sankara Oath” shall be recalled from such office.’
True to our Sankara pledge, BLF intends to live up to the greatest revolutionary standards of incorruptibility. We reinforce this commitment in the face of politicians currently using the state apparatus to enrich themselves. As Sankarist practitioners, BLF has undertaken to end the practice of using state power and access for personal gain. Also like Sankara we are in internationalist solidarity with the oppressed people and nations of the world as we seek to end centuries of colonial, apartheid and neo-colonial rule.
In this context, BLF’s ‘Thomas Sankara Oath’ outlines the cultural dictates and political commitments binding politicians and public servants. In accordance with this BLF members taking Public Office commit themselves to serving the public through providing high quality services and developing an efficient public service system that guarantees the dignity and equality of all. The Sankara Oath ends with this profound battlecry:
“I THEREFORE declare that it is a criminal offence to use private services for myself, my family and my dependents, including but not limited to: education, healthcare, housing and transport. I’m committed to public service therefore; I use the services I provide.”
Thus following Thomas Sankara’s footsteps, BLF shall facilitate the restoration of our people’s dignity.
Issued by the National Coordinating Committee of Black First Land First (BLF NCC)
15 October 2018
Black First Land First Email:[email protected]
Facebook: Black First Land First
Deputy President: Zanele Lwana
National Spokesperson: Lindsay Maasdorp
Cell: +27 79 915 2957
Head of Media & Communications: Brian Tloubatla
Cell: +27 82 216 7664