Ernest Harsch is a journalist and academic, whose most recent work on Burkina Faso is Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary, published by Ohio University Press. He is a research scholar with Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies and worked on African issues at the United Nations for more than 20 years, including as managing editor of the UN’s quarterly development journal Africa Renewal.

Citizens’ Revolt in Burkina Faso

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Even the long months of demonstrations and strikes that came before did not fully prepare the people of Burkina Faso for what they would accomplish during the last week of October 2014. In Ouagadougou, the capital, hundreds of thousands—organizers claimed a million—packed the central square on Tuesday, 28 October, to protest President Blaise Compaoré’s “constitutional coup,” as they called his plan to force through an amendment enabling him to run for reelection yet again, after more than a quarter century in power. Read more…

Social Protest, an African Perennial

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Early one morning in March 2013, residents of Bujagali in eastern Uganda, upset by the deplorable state of the road through their village blocked it with logs and large stones. The protesters expressed anger that President Yoweri Museveni had not kept a promise to pave the road, which becomes virtually impassable during heavy rains and throws up dust clouds in dry weather. Although the residents seemed determined to keep the road closed—some youths jokingly planted banana suckers and maize across it—riot police eventually came from nearby Jinja, arrested several demonstrators, and dispersed the remainder. Read More…