Burkina Faso has a population of 16 million people. Politicians and colonels and civil society leaders are throwing around “le peuple a dit” etc etc. I like Saran Sérémé because she calls them “la foule.” And that is right. Crowds in Ouagadougou and elites are deciding. Outside, in the rural areas of Burkina Faso where more than 10 million people live, there is very little influence over events in Ouagadougou. No matter how much you admire “popular uprisings” and “the masses” and “the will of the people” it is worth remembering this is a tiny minority of the population that is influencing events.
Blogs I Follow
- Walter Isaacson, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race
- The Corner that Held Them, by Sylvia Townsend Warner
- Flux, by Jinwoo Chong
- V.V. Ganeshananthan’s novel “Brotherless Night”
- Making New People: Politics, Cinema, and Liberation in Burkina Faso, 1983-1987, by James E. Genova
Friends of African Village Libraries (I post regularly here)
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You are totally right, of course.
However, it also should not be forgotten that every democracy is delegating power of the people to a few.
It is worth mentioning that less than 40 % of Burkinabé are literate. It is worth mentioning that traditional social structures seem to be still very much important. We shall see how the news from Ouaga and Bobo will be thought of in the more rural communities, which very much rely on authority of the elders, and traditional figures. But, all excitement subtracted, the people on the streets demand democratic change – not just to oust the president.
IMO, It should not be forgotten, ever, that the start of this was a storm on the parliament to prevent the constitution to be changed. This, elite-driven or not, is of conscientiously democratic symbolism: if your elected leaders lay hand on the constitution to undermine the democratic rule, they loose their legitimacy.
I am fully in favor of the storming of the National Assembly, and salute Balai Citoyen and Ligue and other civic organizations that really led that movement. Legitimating the storming is not too difficult: the government prevented open access to the assembly. The assembly leaders (Soungalo and others) government in bad faith never held public hearings to lead up to this incredibly important vote. The government refused to acknowledge that the constitutionality of changing the constitution itself was questionable, as the constitution provided for a Senate which was never implemented. So it was reasonable to think that the government was acting extra-constitutionally.