NEW YORK — The fourth annual Festival Ouaga New York, a two-day cultural event, attracted hundreds of participants, most of them immigrants from Burkina Faso now living in New York, other East Coast cities and abroad. Well-known musicians and artists from that West African country were featured at a Sept. 1 evening gala in the Bronx and the next day at an outdoor concert in Harlem.
In 1983 Thomas Sankara led a popular revolution in Burkina Faso that initiated a deep-going transformation of the country involving the efforts of millions of working people. Sankara’s integrity, anti-imperialist actions, confidence in the Burkinabè toilers, support for Cuba’s socialist revolution and communist political course are known by millions to this day.
Sankara was assassinated and the revolutionary government overthrown in 1987. The legacy of the revolution and Sankara’s example remain topics of discussion and debate not just among people from Burkina Faso, but across the African continent and the African diaspora.
A table at the festival featuring books by Sankara and other titles by revolutionary working-class leaders was welcomed by many participants. Fifty-eight picked up Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-87, in English or French. Several copies each of Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle and We Are Heirs of the World’s Revolutions, also by Sankara, were purchased.
Other books on revolutionary politics attracted interest. These included sales of three titles by Socialist Workers Party leader Jack Barnes — Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, 31 copies; Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? 10 copies; and The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record, two copies; as well as Is Socialist Revolution in the US Possible? by Mary-Alice Waters, three copies; and others, from the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels to speeches of Malcolm X and Che Guevara. In all, 116 books were sold. Three people got subscriptions to the Militant, and several signed up to receive by email a weekly Militant article in French translation.