Time and location

Thursday, 28 May 2015, 19:00 – 21:00
Diplomatic Academy Vienna, Favoritenstraße 15a, 1040 Vienna


Karim Sama alias Sams'K Le Jah
musician and political activist, founder of Le Balai Citoyen, Burkina Faso

Francis Kpatindé
journalist and political scientist, France

Irène Hochauer-Kpoda, VIDC

Welcome: Franz Schmidjell, VIDC

Languages: French with German simultanious interpretation

Registration: schmidjell@remove-this.vidc.org

Burkina Faso: Revolution and Upheaval

© Issouf Sanogo / AFP
© Issouf Sanogo / AFP


“Don’t change the constitution!” With signs and chants hundreds of thousands protested last fall in the West African country Burkina Faso. Amending the constitution would have made it possible for long-time President Blaise Campaoré to stay in office for another term.

At the end of October 2014 the disputes escalated. Demonstrators filled the parliament and the national television broadcaster. Security forces met the protestors with batons, tear gas, and firearms. “Compaoré dégage” sounded the rallying cry (step back Compaoré; disappear). On October 31 the president announced his resignation and flew to Côte D’Ivoire in a France-provided helicopter. Days later the Burkinabés returned to the streets. With brooms and shovels they cleaned up the trash, stones, and other signs of their earlier destruction.

In November the opposition parties, military, and civil society signed an interim charter.

One of the cornerstones of the revolution was and still is the movement “Le Balai Citoyen,” which literally translates to “The Citizen’s Broom.” The movement draws from the traditions of the murdered President Thomas Sankara, “Africa’s Che Guevara” (©BBC), who had organized a weekly street cleaning program.
Where does the Burkinese revolution stand today? Which social-economic alternatives will be pushed by Balai Citoyen, or is all of this only about a regime change? What meaning does the revolt have for changes in voting rights and democratic movements in other African states?


Karim Sama aka Sams’K Le Jah

is a popular reggae artist, radio moderator, and political activist in Burkina Faso. In cooperation with rapper Serge Bamabara, aka “Smockey,” he initiated the protest movement “Le Balai Citoyen” in summer 2013. At his concerts and in his radio programs on Radio Ouaga FM he has for many years demanded freedom of the press and justice for murdered journalist Norbert Zongo. Sams’K Le Jah received several death threats and his car was set on fire. After the Arabic revolution he wrote a song in 2011 with the chorus, “Ce president là…. ce président là… il faut qu’il parte… et il partira…” (This president, this president, he has to go....and he will go). His radio program was stopped. Sams’K Le Jah lives in Ougadougou.
Current Albums: Cache-Cash, Democratie Pastèque

Francis Kpatindé

is a lecturer (maître de conférences) at the École des Affaires Internationales (PSIA) de Sciences Po Paris. He also works as a freelance journalist for Radio France International, Courrier International, and TV5-Monde. Kpatindé was born in Benin and did his Baccalauréat in Gabon. He studied Law and Political Science at the University in Cean (France) and the University of Paris XI, where he also went through the diplomat training course DESS (Diplomatie et administration des organisations internationales). From 1986 to 1994 he was a journalist for, and from 1998 to 2005 the editor of the magazine Jeune Afrique. Francis Kpatindé worked from 2005 to 2011 as a UNHCR Speaker, first in Geneva, then in Accra for the region Central and West Africa. Today Francis Kpatindé lives in Paris.

Irène Hochauer-Kpoda

works at the VIDC as project manager. She was born in Burkina Faso and received her Master’s in Tourism and Hotel Management at the Insistut Supérieur International du Tourisme-in Tanger (Morocco). Ms. Hochauer-Kpoda was a moderator and editor at Radio Africa TV in Vienna. She is a co-founder of the group BARKA BARKA, a relief agency focused on Foroteon, a town in Burkina Faso.