The Revolution in Burkina Faso

In late October, the landlocked African nation of Burkina Faso saw the end of its president’s 27-year-long reign. A popular revolution terminated Blaise Compaoré’s term after he tried to change the constitution so that he could run for a fifth consecutive term.

Cornered by an angry mob in his presidential palace, “Beau Blaise” fled the country along with his entourage as protesters torched the National Assembly and other symbols of the old regime.

Now in exile, Compaoré is rumored to be living in luxury on the Ivory Coast. In Burkina Faso, a new transitional government has emerged, led by President Michel Kafando and his prime minister, Lieutenant-Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida.

VICE News went to the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou in the midst of the revolution to document the final hours of Compaoré’s reign.

In 1983, Thomas Sankara, known as the Che Guevara of Africa, took power in Burkina Faso. But a few years later, he was overthrown in a French-backed coup. In his place, the French installed, Blaise Compoare. Many years have passed and he is still in power. However, it seems that his days are numbered. There is a revolution happening in Burkina Faso. Protest has been stirring for weeks as President Blaise Compoare has been trying to extend his term limits. The people won’t allow it and have taken over the TV centre and Parliament. 19 people have already been killed and an army coup is brewing. A key Western ally in the region, is the government about to fall?

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The greatest athlete ever?

Right up there with Muhammad Ali and Didier Drogba.

More: Serena Williams transcends sport. We’re lucky to be living in her time

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Why it is difficult to explain racism

The Black Voices section of the Huffington Post, ran that article Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism earlier last week.

Mainstream dictionary definitions reduce racism to individual racial prejudice and the intentional actions that result. The people that commit these intentional acts are deemed bad, and those that don’t are good. If we are against racism and unaware of committing racist acts, we can’t be racist; racism and being a good person have become mutually exclusive. […]
Social scientists understand racism as a multidimensional and highly adaptive system — a system that ensures an unequal distribution of resources between racial groups. Because whites built and dominate all significant institutions, (often at the expense of and on the uncompensated labor of other groups), their interests are embedded in the foundation of U.S. society. While individual whites may be against racism, they still benefit from the distribution of resources controlled by their group.

Yes, an individual person of color can sit at the tables of power, but the overwhelming majority of decision-makers will be white. Yes, white people can have problems and face barriers, but systematic racism won’t be one of them. This distinction — between individual prejudice and a system of unequal institutionalized racial power — is fundamental.

The article is very US-focused, but the mechanics would apply to many situations. The article allowed me to get my head around a few concepts that I saw and witnessed, but could not completely get my head around. The fact that is it written by a white researcher gives a different perspective:

Individualism: Whites are taught to see themselves as individuals, rather than as part of a racial group. Individualism enables us to deny that racism is structured into the fabric of society. This erases our history and hides the way in which wealth has accumulated over generations and benefits us, as a group, today. It also allows us to distance ourselves from the history and actions of our group. Thus we get very irate when we are “accused” of racism, because as individuals, we are “different” from other white people and expect to be seen as such; we find intolerable any suggestion that our behavior or perspectives are typical of our group as a whole.



How much does war cost? Economics of war in South Sudan

South Sudan is only four years old, but the world’s youngest nation tops the rank of failed states worldwide.
After decades of conflict with its neighbour Sudan, long-sought autonomy in 2011 was meant to be a dream come true, but the country has been wracked by violence ever since.

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On the same subject, Cornel West…


Yes, the “N” word is still bad in 2015

President Barack Obama participates in a podcast with Marc Maron in Los Angeles, Calif., June 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama participates in a podcast with Marc Maron in Los Angeles, Calif., June 19, 2015.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama’s use of the word shocked many, but this was not the first time he used the word. In his book Dreams from my Father, the president used it “about a dozen times”, said the White House deputy press secretary, Eric Schultz. In reality, Obama’s use of the word was shocking because it is something most acting presidents would never say, but also because the weight of it still matters in 2015.

From The Guardian

You can listen to the whole interview on the WTF podcast website.

I don’t really use any form or shape of the word anymore.

I used to when I was younger, as a form of endearment with my friends. If you are listening to rap music, watching hood movies, or even spending time playing certain video games, it is extremely easy to detach yourself from reality and forget about the whole history behind the word.

The entertainment industry commercialised the term, and played on the controversy to sell more. From Chris Rock developing his entire routine around it, to Nas promoting his Untitled album, to Chet Hanks casually using the word with his white friends. Both blacks and whites individuals are responsible from it yes, but that’s quite different from putting the responsibility on “black people” for carrying the word through the years. You can certainly not say that rappers are responsible for the word, but entertainment did play a role in spreading its use, and the mis-understanding.

Globalisation took it to places that do not understand the heavy burden this word carries.

Yet, I cringe every time I am with white people and I hear the word.
It’s like when white people start having these conversations about slavery / war and poverty in Africa/ black crime around me. These are situations that turn you from just being the only black person present in that space and time to the spokesman for blackness. It really does not take that much.

– So what did you think about 12 Years A Slave?
– What did you think about the new Kendrick?
– That kid they found in the suitcase is from Cote d’Ivoire, right? You are from Cote d’Ivoire, right?


Back to the point, out of all the racial issues in the United States today, people getting angry because Obama is speaking frankly about racism and saying nigger is beyond me. Especially when his very point in saying nigger is that racism is still everywhere in America. I really hope that this will start real conversations about race today in the world, and give a real understanding of the significance of the world in 2015.

Watch Nas’ documentary about breakdancers in Uganda

From executive producer and rapper Nasir “Nas” Jones and journalist-turned-filmmaker Adam Sjöberg, Shake the Dust chronicles the influence of breakdancing, exploring how it strikes a resonant chord in the slums, favelas and ghettos of the world and far beyond. Showcasing some of the most jaw-dropping breakdancing moves ever committed to film, Shake the Dust is an inspiring tribute to the uplifting power of music and movement.

 It’s now available on VOD on Stream.

Shake the Dust from BOND Strategy & Influence on Vimeo.

Quite a fantastic subject to look into. Good that it is coming from hip hop legend Nasir Jones as well. I saw a couple of documentaries coming through about the African musical scene recently (kuduro, heavy metal, rumba), and it’s fantastic to see some of these artists recognised on a global scene, especially outside of the “world music” category.


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