Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Haute Volta

“The Che was assassinated at age of 39; I am only 37”; (Feb. 20, 2010)

Tomas Isidore Sankara (1949-87) led a coup d’etat in Haute Volta (Burkina Faso) in 1983. He was Captain paratrooper and remained captain-President while other “leader sergeants” in Africa promoted themselves to generals and emperors.

Three months before the coup, Sankara was Prime Minister until France (colonial power) ordered he be sacked and demoted from the army.

The first announcement after taking power was changing the name of his State to Burkina Faso (Land of Integrity) and then Sankara took his distances from post colonial organizations.

The second commandment was selling all luxury cars used by public servants and ministers and replacing them by R5 (French small Renault cars).

The third commandment was ordering all high officials to wearing garments made in Burkina Faso with own cotton grown and weaved in the State.

The fourth commandment was forbidding high officials travelling in first class in planes and trains.

The fifth commandment was instituting equality among men and females in high positions and in government openings.

The sixth commandment was encouraging learning and eradicating illiteracy.

The seventh commandment was forbidding women wearing veils and sexual excision (widespread customs among Moslem families; Sankara mother was a devoted Moslem from the majority tribe Mossi).

During his short reign of four years “Tom Sank“, as called among university students, was famous for his integrity and sober life style which angered most African leaders and France.  Tom Sank realized that his years are counted because all his neighboring States could no longer suffer “his teaching lessons” for integrity behaviors.

 Tom Sank closest friend was Blaise Campaore, another captain paratrooper. Sankara’s father raised Blaise as his son, and he assassinated Sankara and took power in 1987.

Campaore is referred to by his countrymen as “The man who killed his brother”. 

Campaore is still President of Burkina Faso. Currently, Burkina Faso is prime State for the US multinational Monsato, growing genetically altered grains (mainly tomatoes and cotton)

Note 1: Robin Shuffied directed the movie “Thomas Sankara: The honest man”

Note 2: Bruno Jaffre wrote “Biography of Thomas Sankara, 2007”

Note 3: I visited Burkina Faso in 1981 and lived there for over a month; I visited the cities of Banfora, Bobo, and the capital Ouagadougou.  During that period, French companies were supplying almost everything. The brief skirmish with giant neighbor Mali prompted Haute Volta (at the time) to purchasing arms from France in cash and at premium price.

My tour in West Africa

Note: Re-edit of “Touring West Africa (Introspection, continue 30) January 19, 2009”

I stayed with the Lebanese  company CAT about less than 6 months, all in all, before the company decided to transfer me to Cyprus.  

Actually, I never received a formal transfer order of what I should be doing in Cyprus.  And frankly, I believed that Cyprus would be a brief stage before official dismissal, fired and sent to Lebanon. 


I had a mind to tour Africa, to visit with my brother the dentist in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and a few relatives in neighboring States before going to Cyprus, but my tour extended for over 6 months and I lost my “position”. 

I did visit my brother Ghassan without a visa; he must have bribed officers at the airport to let me out of the airport. I visited a couple of friends in Abidjan, was invited to a night out and a day at the beach. 

I was not impressed with the “Paris of Africa” Abidjan.


I visited my cousin Joseph and his wife Silla in Burkina Faso (Haute Volta at the time) without a visa, but I am not that sure. Later on, Joseph told me that once his brother Nassif came to visit without visa and he was turned back on a chicken train.


I boarded a somewhat comfortable train for long hours.  Years later I was reminded by Silla that I taught her to drive  I met with the little Sa7ar (2 year-old).  Joseph gave me once a ride to the Capital Ouagadougou, hopeful to find  job.

After three weeks Joseph gave me a ride in his Peugeot 604 to Segou in Mali, without a visa, I think.  


I spent over a month in Segou at my cousin Samira’s.  Her husband Sessine drove me to Bamako to apply for a work permit and I took advantage of the trip to retrieve a copy of my birth certificate.  (I was born in Bamako in Mali). 


I had the opportunity to visit Niono (up north and close to Mobti) with a Lebanese merchant living in the open air there. I guess that it barely rains in that flat and vast town that was denied asphalt and you had to endure dust hanging in the air.  I guess my hosts were getting short on ideas of how to fill my time


I met a US Peace Corp girl from Boston and had the opportunity to dust off my American slang and I learned a little bit more of how this organization is aiding Africa.

At a certain level in my subconscious I wanted to visit Sikasso where I lived my first 5 years, but it was not to happen because I didn’t ask. I guess that if I inquired of any acquaintance there, then I would have managed a ride to Sikasso.

I still want to visit my birth place, where I almost died of Typhoid fever at the age of 5, an illness that precipitated my sending off to Lebanon and changed my life.  


Uncle Asaad, father of Samira and Joseph and married to my aunt Josephine, had the only bakery in town and was doing well. He used to have acupuncture sessions for his back and leg pains. I tried a session out of curiosity but it had no effect on me: I suffered of nothing in the first place. 


I was and felt practically redundant because I was not that needed in the bakery or the shop of Samira. I was in a very confused  situation because I had Not decided to return to Lebanon and had no idea what to do in Africa. I had no idea of what I wanted to do next after I overstay. 

My decision to leave was forced upon me by a mean procedure that I think was not necessary.  I was shipped in a Taxi to Banfora where I spent a few days at Joseph’s.


My return to my brother’s in Abidjan was not a cheerful occasion: my brother’s wife Diane alluded that her apartment is not to be considered a hotel, simply because I turned in around 11 pm. 

I slept at a friend of mine and in the morning, waiting for a taxi to the airport, my two suitcases deposited on the street were robbed.  I stupidly followed my friend to his shop across the street to retrieve a gold necklace as a gift to his family in Lebanon. Actually, I am pretty sure that this friend assured me that it is safe to leave the suitcases for a minute.


I arrived to Lebanon with nothing but my handbag and the cash in my pockets.  Among the lost items was an expensive local ceremonial robe that Samira hand ordered for me. I had to endure days of humiliation; the guy that came home after a year with just a handbag!




August 2022

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