“A slave who cannot assume his own revolt does not deserve to be pitied,” says Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso

Captain Ibrahim Traoré denounced Western neo-colonialism, pledges an end to poverty and deadly mass migration from Africa

August 02, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Captain Ibrahim Traoré, the interim President of Burkina Faso, gave a historic speech at the Second Russia-Africa Summit

The second Russia-Africa Summit, held in St. Petersburg from July 27 to 28, was attended by delegations from 49 African countries including 17 heads of state. The Summit represented a key inflection point in the growing process of multipolarization, as the Global South moves away from Western US-centered hegemonic control.

Below is the full text of the speech given by Captain Ibrahim Traoré, the interim President of Burkina Faso, at the Summit. Traoré declared: “a slave who cannot assume his own revolt does not deserve to be pitied. We do not feel sorry for ourselves, we do not ask anyone to feel sorry for us.” He called on Africans to take up the fight against imperialism and poverty. 

Comrade President Vladimir Putin; Comrades, Presidents, African Heads of State; Comrades, Heads of Delegation. Good morning. It is an honor for me this morning to speak here and to pass on to you the fraternal greetings of the people of the country of upright men. 

This is also the place for me, first and foremost, to give thanks to God, Almighty God who has enabled us to meet here this morning, in good health, to talk about the future and the well-being of our peoples. 

I would like to apologize to any elders who may be offended by my forthcoming comments. Africanity obliges the right of birth. I must apologize. 

Comrades, I have a few questions from my generation. A thousand and one questions. But we have no response. 

And it so happens that here, we can air our dirty laundry because we feel like family, we feel like family in the sense that Russia is a family for Africa too. We are a family because we have the same history. Russia made enormous sacrifices to free the world from Nazism during the Second World War. The African people, our grandfathers, were also forcibly deported to help Europe get rid of Nazism. We share the same history in the sense that we are the forgotten peoples of the world, whether in history books, documentaries or films. We tend to dismiss the key role played by Russia and Africa in the fight against Nazism. 

We are here together because we are here to talk about the future of our peoples, about what is going to happen tomorrow, about this free world to which we aspire, this world without interference in our internal affairs. We have the same perspectives and I hope that this summit will be an opportunity to forge very good relations with the aim of a better future for our peoples. 

The questions my generation is asking are the following. If I can summarize, it is that we do not understand how Africa, with so much wealth on our soil, with generous nature, water, sunshine in abundance—how Africa is today the poorest continent. Africa is a hungry continent. And how come there are heads of state all over the world begging? These are the questions we are asking ourselves, and we have no answers so far. 

We have the opportunity to forge new relationships, and I hope that these relationships can be the best ones to give our peoples a better future. 

My generation also asks me to say that because of this poverty, they are forced to cross the ocean to try to reach Europe. They die in the ocean, but soon they will no longer have to cross, because they will come to our palaces to seek their daily bread.

As far as what concerns Burkina Faso today, for more than eight years we’ve been confronted with the most barbaric, the most violent form of imperialist neo-colonialism. Slavery continues to impose itself on us. Our predecessors taught us one thing: a slave who cannot assume his own revolt does not deserve to be pitied. We do not feel sorry for ourselves, we do not ask anyone to feel sorry for us. The people of Burkina Faso have decided to fight, to fight against terrorism, in order to relaunch their development. 

In this struggle, valiant people from 20 populations have pledged to take up arms in the face of terrorism. This we affectionately call the VDP of volunteers. We are surprised to see the imperialists calling these VDPs militias and all kinds of things. It is disappointing because, in Europe, when people take up arms to defend their homeland, they are called patriots. Our grandfathers were deported to save Europe. It was not with their consent, [it was] against their will. Well, on returning, we remember well that at Thiaroye, when they wanted to claim their basic rights, they were massacred. It doesn’t matter, then, that when we, the people, decide to defend ourselves, we’re called a militia. 

But that’s not the problem. What is the problem are African heads of state who contribute nothing to these people who are fighting, but who sing the same song as the imperialists, calling us militias, calling us men who don’t respect human rights. Which human rights are we talking about? We take offense at this, it is shameful. We African heads of state must stop behaving like puppets who dance every time the imperialists pull the strings. 

Yesterday, President Vladimir Putin announced that he would be sending grain to Africa. We are very pleased. We thank him for that. But it’s also a message to our African heads of state. Because at the next forum, we cannot come here without ensuring, for those who are not familiar with war, that our people are self-sufficient in food. We need to take the experience of those who have already achieved this in Africa, build good relations here and build better relations with the Russian Federation so that we can meet the needs of our people. 

I won’t be long. Time is very short. We have to stop at a certain point. But I would like to finish by saying that we must therefore pay tribute to our peoples, to our peoples who are fighting.

Glory to our peoples, dignity to our peoples, victory to our peoples. Homeland or death, we shall conquer! Thank you, comrades!

This speech was translated from French by Layan Sima Fuleihan.