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A woman sells groundnuts as an entrepreneurial means to support her familly. Blantyre, May 2015. – Thoko Chikondi

THREE WEEKS before my third birthday, in 1987, then Burkina Faso leader, Captain Thomas Sankara delivered a speech on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Several thousands of women from all walks of Burkinabe life gathered to listen to the speech and many more accessed it across various media. As a man himself, the irony of the occasion was not lost to Sankara.

“It is not an everyday occurrence for a man to speak to so many women at once,” he began by saying, adding: “Nor does it happen every day that a man suggests to so many women new battles to be joined.”

It is in a similar context of thinking that I frame this entry this week. “A man,” Sankara further says, “experiences his first bashfulness the minute he becomes conscious he is looking at a woman. So, sisters, you will understand that despite the joy and pleasure it gives me to be speaking to you, I still remain a man who sees in every one of you a mother, a sister, or a wife.” Read More

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Rhythmic Revolution: Captain Sankara on his guitar, one of the few things he owned

Rhythmic Revolution: Captain Sankara on his guitar, one of the few things he owned

EARLIER THIS month, the people of Burkina Faso celebrated the anniversary of the August 4 Revolution that brought Captain Thomas Sankara into power. Given recent developments in the country – the ouster of long-ruling president, Blaise Compaore – and subsequent attempts at destabilising the transition government, the occasion was marked with great reflection.

The memory of Sankara is not only for the Burkinabe to hold. As a committed pan-African, Sankara’s contributions towards the shaping of African consciousness are not only enormous, but they have also stood the test of time. From renaming Upper Volta to Burkina Faso – Land of the Upright People – to challenging practices of post-colonial States in relation to the colonising presence, Sankara set a solid and futuristic framework for thinking about governance and development. And, he was not just about the talk!

“We must make every effort to see that our actions live up to our words and be vigilant with regards to our social behaviour so as not to lay ourselves open to attack by counter-revolutionaries lying in wait. If we always keep in mind that the interests of the masses take precedence over our personal interests, then we will avoid going off course,” once thundered Sankara. Read More

IN THE midst of all this terrible mess described as ‘cashgate’, one word has persistently escaped our public discourse – Integrity. It is, of course, “the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction”, as one dictionary puts it. Another version simply implies “internal consistency or lack of corruption”.

Malawi can be a very frustrating country to live in or to be associated with. It has become quite inevitable that there is a need to pause, nay, stop everything and simply go back to the drawing board and ‘find’ this nation again. Going forward (but actually going backwards) as we are doing and sweeping things under the proverbial carpet – as it were – will only do us greater harm and compromise future generations. Read More