AN OPEN LETTER TO THOMAS SANKARA
This open letter to late Captain Thomas Sankara was originally published on page 4 of the Sunday Standard Newspaper, Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria on May 15, 1988 by M. O. Ollorwi. Enjoy the article.
Could you remember offhand the very night I told you to be careful in your selection of enemies? Though I know a man cannot be careful in his choice of enemies, especially on a planet and in a continent where everything is black, bleak and stone dark. I still feel you should try. Now, you are no more. My eyes cannot see you as my Sankara, a young, energetic and brave Africanist whose attempt to galvanize his people and promote African cultures and values attracted more foes than friends. Somehow, I feel that your spirit and blood (your stand on Africa for Africans) like that of late brave African heroes (Patrick Lumumba, Dr. Nkwame Nkrumah, General Murtala Mohammed, Comrade Samora Michel, etc.) is beckoning me and true-Africa sons and daughters just because of the very way we love you.
I was much struck with the simplicity of your life-style and sweetness of your manners both in private and public life. Is this a breeding ground for fatal jealousy and terminal hatred, a bleeding continent? In all, you never knew how much and how hard I missed you because you never recognized how much and how well I love you. Now, I keep buying newspapers and magazines to read about you, and to know how the world feels about your untimely transition. It was only yesterday’s dawn that I saw a man flayed and you can hardly believe how much it altered his appearance for the worse. He assassinated you for materialism; leaving me only watching you on televisions and reading about you in newspapers. Now, I fill all the nooks and crannies of my house with your fascinating and inspiring pictures. I adore you, son and blood of Africa.
I know you have encountered a hard, rough life. Your country was listed among the ten poorest in the world. You love your people more than your own life, even in death. You expressed your efforts to galvanize them; to awaken in them the spirit of self-reliance. But, that wasn’t appreciated, was it? What do you say? We all have red blood in our vein? But, why do we hate good people?
I know you went into the shoes when you perceived your land enslaving itself. What was wrong with that? You lived a poor and contented life and proved a stubborn kind of a person to your pals. This convinced me offhand that you were at your peak, only soon to descend into oblivion. Something good in a man seated in the mangrove mud must be drown by the ocean of wicked guns booming across the continent of death propel by the venom of “gentle” breeze. Were you then in the ocean swimming your life away trying to Africanize?
I forgot to tell you. But, I thought you know. When the wide currents of European Oceans meet with the deadly waves of Arab marines they became too strong a force for the silent Africa to contain. My Sankara, were you in-between these two wall and the blue sea swimming into extinction, while Africa sleeps on?
Things are going from bad to worse, not only for your country but for the whole of Africa. Even the giant of Africa that should be mature and stand shoulder high is now learning to creep. The ship of Africa is unmanned. All the heads are rotten and smelling. Why did you embark on this endless journeying without a word? How is the other side of life, my Sankara? If the needful are prayers, supplications, libations or sacrifices, offer them on our behalf and stand in the gap for us. Questions are not necessary. Your training and experience on earth guaranteed your capability. Intercede for us, my Sankara. Let the gods forgive our insanity, and let our ancestors pardon our violence and smile on us again. This is not too much a request to make of you, my Sankara.
Just because you are Thomas Sankara, that is why I love and adore you. You possess the courageous and startling qualities of an African leader. A one in a million! The guns helped to build you up; to make you a super-black-leader, and you have to follow that route according to the scriptures of the gun.
Now, to you Death! Death! Oh, Death! How wicked are you to snatch life out of my Sankara? Why did you snatch him from me at the time I needed him most? Still in my mind, fresh is how you snatched life out of Murtala Mohammed, Patrick Lumumba, Comrade Samora Michel, etc. Oh! What Death! What more can I say, write, or do about you?
Lest I forget, it was just this morning I woke up from bed to see four Burkinabes at the corridor of my house. When I confronted them with questions as to why they were standing there so early, I was made to understand that they had come to negotiate for the purchase of my crude oil. But, Sankara, I was not only afraid to sell my crude oil to your country on credit but was mindful of the fact that my crude oil, the oil of blacks would eventually end up in the hands of our enemy – Botha and his associates.
I hope you would not be embarrassed by mere mention of that? You know if you were still alive and captaining the Ship of the Burkinabes, my response would have been positive. I won’t have had a second thought even though your country has no refinery. This is because I trust you.
A friend of your – because I know you didn’t count him your enemy – arrived Nigeria recently on what is called “State Visit” and you would hardly believe the way and manner with which he was received. Only a handful of Nigerians went out to welcome him with folded arms and closed hearts, knowing quite well that he is a green snake under green grass.
Captain Thomas Sankara, I love you more than ever now. This is true because I took you for granted when you were alive. Your name and popularity will never be erased from the sand of African history. And your blood will ever remain fresh to ask for justice not for yourself but for the “poverty ravaged Burkinabes whose dreams of hope renewal stands truncated”.
But, O God, I miss him bad. I miss my Sankara. What a strange thing is life and man in Africa? Are we ungovernable even with good leaders? Why African lights are always put off at dawn when the people are very hopeful?
Come home, my Sankara, my legs are being uprooted from the ground. My head aches. My heart is burning rapidly. My breasts can no longer support my children. There is hunger in the land. There is suffering everywhere. Infectious diseases and poverty are decimating my people. Where is holy water? Is the anointing oil better, instead? What happen to the precious and delicious breasts of Africa? Or, the fresh palm wine from African swamplands? Which do I go for now to facilitate our cultural revival and value reorientation and save Africa? Can any mortal present himself at the door of the world where you now reside? Won’t the doors be shut in the face? The authority to knock down the shutters is only with the ancestors? But, are African ancestors there at all? Are our gods dead or only silent? Who destroyed our shrines and polluted our altars? God! Oh, God!!
It has happened, death being most inevitable. So let it be with Captain Thomas Sankara, the noble leader.
May your family and all your fans do kindly accept my profound sympathy which is all I can offer now.
It is me, an African, a friend of yours who now is a cool guy.
M. O. Ollorwi