In Burkina Faso, women continue the spatula uprising. The struggle continues.


Last October, Burkinabé women picked up their spatulas and took to the streets, calling for the end of one-party and one-man rule. As women and as members of Balai citoyen, Citizen Broom, they charged the State with “a constitutional coup d’etat.” And they won, and ever since they’ve been organizing. On Wednesday, the military took control of the government, and the women have kept on organizing. Once again, they have taken to the streets, spatulas in hand.

Unable to organize in Ouagadougou, the women brought broomsticks and spatulas to the streets of Bobo-Dioulasso, the second largest city of Burkina Faso and the country’s economic capital. Once again, they demanded a clean sweep. Once again, women inspired others to principled, militant action.

Saran Sérémé, president of the Party for Development and Change, noted, “We must fight for the nation’s well being and for justice. The Burkinabé people are ready to defend ourselves, whatever the cost. We find the situation deplorable. We will not bow down to anyone.”

In Bobo-Dioulasso and across Burkina Faso, the women agree. They will not bow down, and they will stir the pot. In October of last year, hundreds of women marched, chanted, carried spatulas, and sparked an uprising, a spatula uprising. On Tuesday, tens of thousands marched in the streets. On Wednesday, a general strike was called, and soon after, the regime was swept out of power. The women did not put their spatulas away and they did not forget how to use them. The struggle continues.

Burkinabé women know the struggle continues. Women like Joséphine Ouédraogo, Genevieve Zongo, Mariam Sankara, and thousands of others know how to maintain the long march and the short sprint to democracy, while across Burkina Faso women hold on to their spatulas.


(Photo Credit 1: Twitter)

In Burkina Faso, the women continue to push for justice and transformation

In October, women carrying spatulas took to the streets of Ouagadougou, and sparked an uprising that finally overthrew Blaise Compaoré. With spatulas and brooms, they pushed open doors and windows that had been long closed. Thomas Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara, called for a real investigation into the circumstances of her husband’s death. Joséphine Ouédraogo, a minister in Sankara’s government, was appointed Minister of Justice. This week, Ouédraogo announced that she will re-open the investigation into the murder of Norbert Zongo, a prominent journalist who was killed in 1998. Genevieve Zongo, his widow, has been pushing for an investigation for the past sixteen years. Now, at last, as a result of women’s organizing, that investigation will take place.

In December 13, the anniversary of Norbert Zongo’s murder, Genevieve Zongo told the thousands of demonstrators who had gathered to demand justice, “I demand that that the perpetrators be arrested and judged for the full extent of their crimes.” Burkinabé women never stopped demanding justice, for their loved ones, for themselves, for the strangers who had been imprisoned, tortured, murdered.

As a militant feminist, trade unionist, and journalist, Genevieve Zongo never gave up on the struggle for justice. First, she tried the Burkinabé courts. Then, in 2008, she launched the Ten Years campaign, and went international. In 2011, Zongo took her case to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in Arusha, Tanzania. On March 28, 2014, the Court “concluded that the Respondent State, Burkina Faso, failed in its obligation to take measures, other than legislative, to ensure that the rights of the Applicants for their cause to be heard by competent national Courts are respected. The Respondent State … failed to act with due diligence in seeking, trying and judging the assassins of Norbert Zongo and his companions. Hence, Burkina Faso simultaneously violated Article 1 of the Charter by failing to take appropriate legal measures to guarantee the respect of the rights of the Applicants pursuant to Article 7 of the Charter.” The Campaoré administration did nothing in response.

But that’s all changed now, thanks to the persistence of women, the road to justice and democracy is being built. Some of the women – like Mariam Sankara, Joséphine Ouédraogo, and Genevieve Zongo – are well known. Others are not. But the women’s message across Burkina Faso is clear. The years of impunity are over. Women with spatulas and brooms and elbows and voices and dreams and aspirations and demands are pushing for more. Thanks to these women, a new day is dawning, and hopefully not only in Burkina Faso.

(Photo Credit: AFP)