“I speak on behalf of the millions of human beings who are in ghettos because they have black skin or because they come from different cultures, and who enjoy status barely above that of an animal.
I suffer on behalf of the Indians who have been massacred, crushed, humiliated, and confined for centuries on reservations in order to prevent them from aspiring to any rights and to prevent them from enriching their culture through joyful union with other cultures, including the culture of the invader.
I cry out on behalf of those thrown out of work by a system that is structurally unjust and periodically unhinged, who are reduced to only glimpsing in life a reflection of the lives of the affluent.
I speak on behalf of women the world over, who suffer from a male-imposed system of exploitation. As far as we’re concerned, we are ready to welcome suggestions from anywhere in the world that enable us to achieve the total fulfillment of Burkinabè women. In exchange, we offer to share with all countries the positive experience we have begun, with women now present at every level of the state apparatus and social life in Burkina Faso. Women who struggle and who proclaim with us that the slave who is not able to take charge of his own revolt deserves no pity for his lot. This harbors illusions in the dubious generosity of a master pretending to set him free. Freedom can be won only through struggle, and we call on all our sisters of all races to go on the offensive to conquer their rights.
I speak on behalf of the mothers of our destitute countries who watch their children die of malaria or diarrhea, unaware that simple means to save them exist. The science of the multinationals does not offer them these means, preferring to invest in cosmetics laboratories and plastic surgery to satisfy the whims of a few women or men whose smart appearance is threatened by too many calories in their overly rich meals, the regularity of which would make you—or rather us from the Sahel—dizzy. We have decided to adopt and popularize these simple means, recommended by the WHO and UNICEF.
I speak, too, on behalf of the child. The child of a poor man who is hungry and who furtively eyes the accumulation of abundance in a store for the rich. The store protected by a thick plate glass window. The window protected by impregnable shutters. The shutters guarded by a policeman with a helmet, gloves, and armed with a billy club. The policeman posted there by the father of another child, who will come and serve himself—or rather be served—because he offers guarantees of representing the capitalistic norms of the system, which he corresponds to.
I speak on behalf of artists—poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, and actors—good men who see their art prostituted by the alchemy of show-business tricks.
I cry out on behalf of journalists who are either reduced to silence or to lies in order to not suffer the harsh low of unemployment.
I protest on behalf of the athletes of the entire world whose muscles are exploited by political systems or by modern-day slave merchants.
My country is brimming with all the misfortunes of the people of the world, a painful synthesis of all humanity’s suffering, but also—and above all—of the promise of our struggles. This is why my heart beats naturally on behalf of the sick who anxiously scan the horizons of science monopolized by arms merchants.
My thoughts go out to all of those affected by the destruction of nature and to those 30 million who will die as they do each year, struck down by the formidable weapon of hunger. As a military man, I cannot forget the soldier who is obeying orders, his finger on the trigger, who knows the bullet being fired bears only the message of death.
Finally, it fills me with indignation to think of the Palestinians, who an inhuman humanity has decided to replace with another people—a people martyred only yesterday. I think of this valiant Palestinian people, that is, these shattered families wandering across the world in search of refuge. Courageous, determined, stoic, and untiring, the Palestinians remind every human conscience of the moral necessity and obligation to respect the rights of a people. Along with their Jewish brothers, they are anti-Zionist.
At the side of my brother soldiers of Iran and Iraq who are dying in a fratricidal and suicidal war, I wish also to feel close to my comrades of Nicaragua, whose harbors are mined, whose villages are bombed, and who, despite everything, face their destiny with courage and clear-headedness. I suffer with all those in Latin America who suffer from the stranglehold of imperialism.
I wish to stand on the side of the Afghan and Irish peoples, on the side of the peoples of Granada and East Timor, each of whom is searching for happiness based on their dignity and the laws of their own culture.
I protest on behalf of all those who vainly seek a forum in this world where they can make their voice heard and have it genuinely taken into consideration. Many have preceded me at this podium and others will follow. But only a few will make the decisions. Yet we are officially presented as being equals. Well, I am acting as spokesperson for all those who vainly see a forum in this world where they can make themselves heard. So yes, I wish to speak on behalf of all “those left behind,” for “I am human, nothing that is human is alien to me.”
Our revolution in Burkina Faso embraces misfortunes of all peoples. It also draws inspiration from all of man’s experiences since his first breath. We wish to be the heirs of all the world’s revolutions and all the liberation struggles of the peoples of the Third World. Our eyes are on the profound upheavals that have transformed the world. We draw the lessons of the American Revolution, the lessons of its victory over colonial domination and the consequences of that victory. We adopt as our own the affirmation of the Doctrine whereby Europeans must not intervene in American affairs, nor Americans in European affairs. Just as Monroe proclaimed “America to the Americans” in 1823, we echo this today by saying “Africa to the Africans,” “Burkina to the Burkinabè.”“
| Thomas Sankara
[excerpt from his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on October 4th, 1984]