I open with these words “while revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas”.
Those cutting edge words were uttered by an African leader whom I was introduced to for the first time on Sunday night.
I was shocked that never in my life have I come across this name. Is it that his life is not popularly referred to by historians? Or is it just simply my own ignorance?
Without wanting to assume that he is a well-known figure, please allow me to share a very brief biography about this great son of the African soil.
My brother had set a reminder for the documentary and he insisted that he had watched an amazing documentary and he knew I would benefit tremendously from watching it and trust me he was not exaggerating.
I was cosy on my couch after a great Sunday afternoon chill session with friends and then I got introduced to this man called Thomas Sankara. Thomas Sankara is/was the Ex-president of Burkina Faso. During his reign he renamed the country Burkina Faso, meaning “the land of the upright people”
Many historians and political commentators have called him a great revolutionist. In my own words he was simply “light”. I say this because he really shook the global stage by his leadership example and his “selfless” passion for his country and its people.
His government’s main goals were geared towards fighting corruption, replantation, preventing famine and he made education and health real priorities. Whilst watching the documentary, I really loved the way he completely revolutionised the way women were looked at in West Africa. Under his reign women were promoted to government positions and he banned female circumcision and condemned polygamy (http://www.africansuccess.org). Some of these ideas were not too popular in the 1980s in that part of the world. I also really loved the way he addressed the western world when he was speaking at United Nations conferences. He spoke as a man convinced that the western so called structures meant to “aid” Africa were in fact crippling it. He called for a renaissance within the continent.
But his life was soon cut short when his best friend organised a coup against him and he was murdered. You know after watching that documentary I had mixed feelings, one part of me was so excited about gaining knowledge about this legendary leader. Another part of me was sad and hurt that Africa had been robbed of such a great thinker.
I felt like I was exposed to an African president who was really distinct. And as I sat there for some odd reason this thought came into my mind “until there is a death threat for one’s life, we cannot claim revolutionary status”. Its quiet overwhelming I know but the more I was reflecting on what I had just watched, I started thinking of the many others who also lost their lives for stirring up society transforming revolutions. I think of JF Kennedy, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Steve Biko, Chris Hani, Ruth First…and many others.
These great leaders were in fact “trade markers”. I thought to myself “wow Bongeka this man may have died but his ideas live on in many forms both in his country and many parts of the world”…I began to ask myself what is my trademark? In a more researched term a trademark is “a brand name, a slogan or a logo. It identifies the services or goods of one person and distinguishes it from the goods and services of another.” (http://www.cipc.co.za).
I would like to offer this simple definition: a trademark is an idea, a dream, a purpose that will out-live and out-last you! I know mine…what is yours?