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RPT: FEATURE – Fighting Remnants of Colonialism: Why Young People in Burkina Faso Seek Political ChangeATN News

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MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – January 29, 2023) Despite the apparent political chaos following two military coups in Burkina Faso in 2022, young activists in the West African country explained to Sputnik why they largely support political changes they consider as opposed to France’s colonial influence…

Growing up in Bobo-Dioulasso, a city known as the economic and cultural capital of Burkina Faso, Abdoul Salam Koussoube was lucky to be able to follow his passions and become a cultural project manager. He has worked on various film productions, participated in film festivals and attended cultural events.

However, like many young people in the West African country today, Koussoube also actively advocated for social justice, especially the ongoing problems resulting from more than 60 years of French colonization.

“I have been interested in the social, cultural and political issues of our colonized African state for more than 10 years. I am an activist who advocates for more social justice in the world,” said Koussoube, who is in his 30s. told Sputnik.

As a country that experienced two military coups in 2022, Burkina Faso seems to have faced many uncertainties amid the political crisis. But for young local activists like Koussoube, the political turmoil in the country represented the younger generation’s call for change, and the military coups gained largely popular support.

“Recent events force us to revisit history, when this country experienced a progressive military regime that changed its destiny forever from 1983-1987. We dare to believe and hope that the current authorities are working in the same direction, even if be recognized. that the mechanisms of repression of imperialism do not make the task easy. Personally, my hope comes from the fact that it is the younger generation, especially those who are out of school and excluded from the system of government, who are currently leading the rebellion .against Western influences as well as against local servants,” he said.

In 1983, Thomas Sankara, a leftist and Pan-Africanist officer, led a military coup in the country when it was still known as the Republic of Upper Volta. Under his anti-imperialist agenda, Sankara introduced a series of progressive reforms aimed at eliminating the dominance of French colonial power and addressing social inequalities. He changed the country’s name from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means “Land of the Incorruptible People”.

As one of the most charismatic revolutionary leaders during that era, Sankara was often referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara (the iconic revolutionary of South America)” by his supporters.

For many young people in Burkina Faso, the military coups in January and September 2022 brought back memories of Sankara’s efforts to eradicate French colonial influence in the country.

“We are a generation of people who want to feel equal to other people in terms of education, health, economy and confirmation of our identity. Yet our rulers, who are local lackeys of imperialism, are unable to satisfy our aspirations. This is the origin of the crisis,” said Koussoube.

The young activist went on to explain how the country’s previous leaders, who were supposedly voted into office through democratic elections, failed.

“Power is centralized in the hands of a few individuals, while communities are manipulated and instrumentalized. We have been experiencing this for more than two decades. This is the inability of democratically elected rulers, due to corruption, mismanagement and nepotism. This is what has led to the coup that was generally welcomed by the general populace who don’t want any more of those ‘pseudo-intellectual’ elites and politicians,” he said.

In a similar vein to what happened in neighboring West African countries after political changes in recent years, one of the key demands of the new government in Burkina Faso was to ask France to withdraw its troops from the country.

The French Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that France plans to withdraw its troops from Burkina Faso next month, following continued protests against its military presence in the West African country. The move came after a similar withdrawal of French troops last year from neighboring Mali, where two military coups took place in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

As Burkina Faso has battled Islamist insurgents in the northern part of the country for the past few years, Western analysts have expressed concern that the withdrawal of French troops sent to fight the insurgency could further destabilize the security situation in the region.

However, other activists who support the Pan-African movement have argued that it is time for West African nations to take their fate into their own hands.

“I think what happened in Mali had the biggest influence on Burkina Faso with the transitional government confirming its position against the French army. I think the vision goal unites many Pan-Africans,” Inem Richardson, a coordinator of the All – African People’s Revolutionary Party based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, told Sputnik.

The activist explained why many African countries have started to take a more active stance to move away from political and economic influence of the European countries that used to colonize the continent.

“I think people are also aware that we are currently seeing a world that is changing. For a very long time, the world has been dominated exclusively by the United States and its allies, including the European Union countries. This is what the Burkina Faso economy dominates and benefits from the resources of not only Burkina Faso but also Africa as a whole. Too much of our history is linked to colonialism and imperialism. I think the end goal is for more African countries to leave the Western camp or influence. They can unite with each other. I think this is a path to African unity,” Richardson said.

When the military coups took place in recent years in a number of West African countries, such as Mali or Burkina Faso, a number of Western media speculated about the involvement of the Wagner group, a private mercenary organization from Russia .

As a result of increased Chinese investment in Africa in recent years, China has also faced accusations of bringing a new form of neo-colonialism to the continent.

But for Richardson, the records of new partners such as Russia or China still differ from Western countries that used to directly colonize the continent.

“The world needs African resources. I’m aware of that. At the same time, I don’t think Russia, China or Iran have the same long colonial history as African countries. I don’t believe it’s the same thing. I’ll believe it when I see that ‘ A Russian or Chinese backed military coup toppling a leader. Until now I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s two sides of the same coin. At the moment I don’t think most people are worried about Russia or China who are trying to take over Africa,” she said.

Although Richardson is African-American who was born in California, she moved to Burkina Faso about a year and a half ago.

“One of the things we strongly believe is that, until Africa is free, no African anywhere in the world will ever be free or respected. The way we see it is: we must have a home base that is liberated and free from imperialism is.., she said.

Koussoube, the local activist from Burkina Faso, also emphasized the importance of Africa’s growing independent role in the global system.

“We are talking about globalization. What is really Africa’s part in this globalization? Are we unable to contribute? Or is it rather the consequences of slavery, colonialism and today’s neo-colonialism that prevent us from doing so “In fact, we want young Africans to learn to do things themselves, without assistance or condescension,” he said.

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