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      February Black History Month:
      Thomas Sankara

      Black History Month has been co-opted and hijacked by government insitutions and the mainstream media. Every February they share images and words from a series of handpicked black leaders, stripped of any historical relevance or any spirit of revolutionary black struggle. Fire This Time Newspaper wants to counter the mainstream watered down account of the struggle for black liberation in the U.S. and internationally. In this issue we honour the revolutionary legacy of black liberation leaders that have fought for black rights and for the rights of all oppressed people and nations around the world. We have chosen excerpts from the speeches of five black revolutionary leaders Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba and Maurice Bishop, all five were forced to make the most valuable sacrifice for humanity - their lives.

      Thomas Sankara (1949-1987) was an anti-imperialist and revolutionary leader who led a Revolution in Burkina Faso in the 1980s. His ideas and leadership example continue to inspire millions of people in Africa and all around the world to seek an end to the misery and injustice created by capitalism and imperialism.

      Excerpt from: “The revolution cannot triumph without the emancipation of women” speech, which he held to a rally of several thousand women in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, commemorating International Women’s Day on March 8, 1987.

      The weight of the centuries-old traditions of our society has relegated women to the rank of beasts of burden. Women suffer doubly from all the scourges of neocolonial society. First, they experience the same suffering as men. Second, they are subjected to additional suffering by men.

      Our revolution is in the interests of all the oppressed and all those who are exploited in today’s society. It is therefore in the interests of women, since the basis of their domination by men lies in the way society’s system of political and economic life is organized. By changing the social order that oppresses women, the revolution creates the conditions for their genuine emancipation.

      The women and men of our society are all victims of imperialist oppression and domination. That is why they wage the same struggle. The revolution and women’s liberation go together. We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or because of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the triumph of the revolution. Women hold up the other half of the sky.

      Forging a new mentality on the part of Voltaic women that allows them to take responsibility for the country’s destiny alongside men is one of the primary tasks of the revolution. At the same time, it is necessary to transform men’s attitudes toward women.

      Up until now, women have been excluded from the realm of decision making. The revolution, by entrusting responsibilities to women, is creating the conditions for turning loose their fighting initiative. As part of its revolutionary policy, the CNR [National Council of the Revolution] will work to mobilize, organize, and unite all the active forces of the nation, and women will not lag behind. Women will be an integral part of all the battles we will have to wage against the various shackles of neocolonial society and for the construction of a new society. They will take part in all levels of the organization of the life of the nation as a whole, from conceiving projects to making decisions and implementing them. The final goal of this great undertaking is to build a free and prosperous society in which women will be equal to men in all domains.

      However, we need a correct understanding of the question of women’s emancipation. It does not signify a mechanical equality between men and women. It does not mean acquiring habits similar to those of men, such as drinking, smoking, and wearing trousers. Nor will acquiring diplomas make women equal to men or more emancipated. A diploma is not a passport to emancipation. The genuine emancipation of women is that which entrusts responsibilities to them and involves them in productive activity and in the different struggles the people face. Women’s genuine emancipation is one that exacts men’s respect and consideration. Emancipation, like freedom, is not granted but conquered. It is for women themselves to put forward their demands and mobilize to win them. For that, the democratic and popular revolution will create the necessary conditions to allow Voltaic women to realize themselves fully and completely. After all, would it be possible to eliminate the system of exploitation while maintaining the exploitation of women, who make up more than half our society?

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