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Justice For A Robin Hood

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on October 14, 2021 19:12

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Hollywood loves a 'They Lived Happily Ever After' ending. This is all too often only a fictional ending. Yet, perhaps, some day soon, the memory of one such a heroic leader will be given justice.

Robin Hood, having rebelled against Bad King John to steal from the rich and give to the poor, won the hand of fair Maid Marion, was married before King Richard the Lionhearted and lived happily ever after. According to Hollywood, little birds cooed, ducks danced, the works. Right? Not really.

Plaque of King Richard marrying Robin and Marion in Nottingham. Photo Wikipedia  CC BY-SA 3.0


Shortly after this happy, maybe fictitious event, King Richard died and his brother, King John Lackland, ruled England for almost 20 years with a fist of iron. Marion and Robin either fled into exile or were imprisoned, tortured, possibly starved to death.

An African Robin Hood was in the news this week: Thomas Sankara. As a young military officer, he saw the futility of the wars being promoted by politicians. During French-sponsored training in Madagascar, he studied agriculture. read political and military strategy.

Artist's impression of Thomas Sankara. Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0


A coup in 1984 made him President at age 33. He immediately started a mass immunization campaign to eradicate polio, meningitis and measles. Housing and infrastructure projects were prioritized. Millions of trees were planted to stop desertification and provide food. Infant mortality fell dramatically.

Scorning security measures Sankara was often seen walking the streets of the capital, talking to the public, playing with children. He changed the name of his country, Upper Volta, to Burkina Faso, the Land of Honorable People. He promoted the role of women, stating: “Comrades, there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to a society where half the people are held in silence. I hear the roar of women’s silence. I sense the rumble of their storm and feel the fury of their revolt.” 

He saw himself as a servant of the people, stopped first-class travel for officials, denied overseas schooling for children and medical treatment for his Ministers, sold all official limousines as lottery prizes and limited Ministers to a self-driven Renault 5, the cheapest car sold in Burkina Faso, as the official vehicle. Asked why he did not insist on his photo being placed in every public building and shop, he replied: "There are seven million Thomas Sankaras."
 
Sankara said: 'The choice is between champagne for a few or clean water for the many. The military stores became the country’s first supermarket, his salary was reduced to $450 per month. All public servants had to wear locally produced clothing and declare their possessions in public. Sankara owned three guitars.
 
Stating that "he who feeds you, controls you," he called on African countries to repudiate their foreign debt. In 1987 he was assassinated by a former colleague. And only now is the case coming to court.  

He said: "Revolutionaries can be killed, but not ideas." Will justice, at last, prevail for Africa’s Robin Hood?

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on October 14, 2021 19:12

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Source: Al Jazeera

Former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore is the main defendant in the trial on the 1987 murder of his predecessor.

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