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Catalog:

Pierre-Christophe GAM: Sankara - The Upright Man

Alliance Française de Lagos Opened November 18th, 2020 View 3D Gallery Support Abuja Art Week. Make a donation.
Poster image for Pierre-Christophe GAM: Sankara - The Upright Man

Artworks in this room:

The Battle

Pierre - Christoph Gam

“Everything that man can imagine, he is able of creating” Thomas Sankara On the 1st of October 1985, Sankara launched “the battle of the railway”, a grassroot movement to construct the final loop of the railway linking Cotonou with Abidjan by having it sweep north of Ouagadougou to rich mineral deposits, before continuing on to Niger. After several unsuccessful attempts at securing the financing loan from the World Bank, Sankara decided to tap into the strength of his people. Between 1985 and 1987, volunteers – men, women, students and civil servants laid 200 km of rail by hand. To finance the purchase of equipment and materials, Sankara slashed the operational budget of the administration by cutting down expenses and salaries and by selling off the fleet of luxury car in the president’s convoy, opting instead for Renault 5, the cheapest brand of car available in Burkina Faso at the time. However the largest effort was made by himself as his own salary was reduced to 450 dollars per month.

The Battle

The Education

Pierre - Christoph Gam

« School must certainly teach to read and to count, but school must above all teach the child to trust on his strength and ability” Thomas Sankara Throughout his presidency Thomas Sankara utilized various policies and government assistance to encourage Burkinabes to get education. In an effort to increase the literacy among the population, specifically citizen in rural areas, he implemented the Alpha Commando literacy campaign in February 1986. The program used volunteers, who consisted of students, activist, soldiers, civil servants, and teachers. 1400 additional schools or literacy centers were created throughout the country, benefiting Burkina Faso rural and urban poor, both male and female. Their effort reached over 30,000 citizens, with about half becoming functionally literate. In less than two years as president, school attendance jumped from about 10% to a little below 25%, thus overturning the 90% illiteracy rate he met upon assumption of office.

The Education

The Emancipation

Pierre - Christoph Gam

“We cannot transform society while maintaining domination and discrimination against women, who comprise more than half our society” Thomas Sankara Thomas Sankara understood that real political, social and economic development cannot become a reality without the total emancipation of women. In that effect Sankara made mandatory the recruiting of women into all professions, including the military and the government, he outlawed forced marriage, polygamy and genital mutilation, and he promoted the involvement of women at the centre of all grassroots revolutionary mobilisation. He did not view women’s emancipation as an act of charity but as a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph. Sankara also instated the custom that on International Women’s Day (8th of March), men would take care of duties usually prescribed to their wives, such as doing the daily shopping errand to the market, as a way of acknowledging and better appreciating the contribution made every day by ordinary Burkinabe women.

The Emancipation

The Murder

Pierre - Christoph Gam

« I am the one they are looking for » He stands up calm and serene, and walks towards the door. A burst of kalashnikov tears his body. The 15th of October 1987, the captain Thomas Sankara, president of Burkina Faso since 1983, is assassinated during a military coup. Blaise Compaore, his minister of justice, brother in arms and best friend, takes power at the head of the insurgents. He declares officially that Sankara died from a « natural death ».

The Murder

The Pact

Pierre - Christoph Gam

Sankara shunned an invitation to join the secretive and exclusive Masonic lodge known as the Rose Croix that seemed to form an unbreakable bond of brotherhood among many of francophone Africa’s presidents. Paris’s favourites Félix Houphouët-Boigny and Gabon’s Omar Bongo were members of the Rose Croix, as was French President, François Mitterrand. Masonic Lodges all over Africa work very much like Africa’s own secret societies, developing permanent and indestructible bonds among members… "One day some people came to see me, completely agitated. They told me that the word was spreading around that Blaise is preparing a coup against you. They were the most seriously panicked in the world. I told them this: "The day you learn that Blaise is preparing a coup d'etat against me, it will not be worth the trouble to try to oppose or even warn me. It will mean that it is too late and even that it will be unstoppable (...) He has against me weapons you do not know ... "

The Pact

The Reform

Pierre - Christoph Gam

“Sankara famously quoted: Where is imperialism? Look at your plate when you eat. The imported rice, maize and millet; that is imperialism” Thomas Sankara From being a net importer of food, Thomas Sankara began to aggressively promote agriculture in Burkina Faso. In less than four years Burkina Faso became self-sufficient in food production. According to Jean Ziegler , the former UN rapporteur on the rights to food, this result was achieved through the redistribution of land to rural inhabitants, the distribution of fertilizer and the construction of new irrigation canals. Along with his insistence on national food sovereignty and boosting local production, Sankara endeavoured to implement a nation-wide system of agro-ecology, an approach that encourages ‘power dispersing and power creating’ communal food cultivation that enhances ‘the dignity, knowledge and capacities of all involved’ and the regeneration of the environment. Sankara had devised in collaboration with Pierre Rabhi, the pioneer in the field, an ambitious program that would have instated the principles of Agro-ecology as a national policy throughout Burkina Faso. Unfortunately, the implementation of this program was cut short in its track…

The Reform

The Resurrection

Pierre - Christoph Gam

"The seed we have germinated in Burkina Faso and around the world, no one can eradicate it. Kill Sankara, thousands of Sankara will be born! " "The most important, I believe, is to have successfully led the people to gain confidence in themselves, to understand that, finally, he can sit down and write his development; he can sit down and write his happiness; he can say what he desires. And at the same time, feel the price to pay for such happiness. "

The Resurrection

The Self Reliance

Pierre - Christoph Gam

THE SELF-SUFFICIENCY One of the most famous quotes of Thomas Sankara is, “He who feeds you, controls you.” Thomas Sankara denounced the pervasive nature of food aid distribution as a mean of control and power ‘Those who oppress us by means of the grain they dump here”. A 2006 paper briefing by Oxfam asserts that donor countries, ‘Sometimes uses food aid to dump agricultural surpluses and to attempt to create new markets for its exports. Indeed, food aid has the potential both to reduce domestic production of food, damaging the livelihoods of poor farmers, and to displace exports from other countries into the recipient country’. In an effort to strengthen the local industry, Sankara emphasised through various policies the need of transforming locally produced goods in order to meet the needs of the population. In a bid to save the local tomato industry, Sankara instated a “Day of the tomato, to educate the local populace on preserving and transformation techniques. The famous ‘Faso dan Fani’, the local garment, was also an example of the transformation of the cotton for the domestic market.

The Self Reliance

The Temptation

Pierre - Christoph Gam

“Mrs Compaore, you are taking everything away from me; I lose everything in this wedding while you win everything in it; I lose a comrad, a friend. Take care of this element”. The 29th of June 1985, Blaise Compaore marries the French-Ivorian Chantal Terrasson de Fougères. Grand-daughter of a former French colonial governor and a protege of Houphouët-Boigny, the then president of Ivory-Coast, she is considered by many observers of the relations between the two countries as the « trojan horse », the Mata Hari who made possible a conspiracy orcherstrated by France, to overthrow the regime of Sankara.

The Temptation

The Triptych - A

Pierre - Christoph Gam

I do not pretend here to state dogmas. I am neither a messiah nor a prophet. I do not hold any truth. My only ambition is a double aspiration: first, to be able, in plain language, that of evidence and clarity, to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Burkina Faso; secondly, to be able to express also, in my own way, the words of the "great people of the disinherited", those who belong to this world that has been maliciously called Third World. So to recognize our presence in the Third World is, to paraphrase José Marti, "to affirm that we feel on our cheek any blow given to any man of this world". We have stretched the other cheek so far. The slaps were redoubled. But the heart of the wicked did not soften. They trampled the truth of the righteous. "From Christ they have betrayed the word. They turned his cross into a club. And after they put on his tunic, they slashed our bodies and our souls. They have obscured his message. They have Westernized it whilst we received it as universal liberation. Then our eyes opened up to the class struggle. There will be no more slaps. "

The Triptych - A

The Triptych - B

Pierre - Christoph Gam

I do not pretend here to state dogmas. I am neither a messiah nor a prophet. I do not hold any truth. My only ambition is a double aspiration: first, to be able, in plain language, that of evidence and clarity, to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Burkina Faso; secondly, to be able to express also, in my own way, the words of the "great people of the disinherited", those who belong to this world that has been maliciously called Third World. So to recognize our presence in the Third World is, to paraphrase José Marti, "to affirm that we feel on our cheek any blow given to any man of this world". We have stretched the other cheek so far. The slaps were redoubled. But the heart of the wicked did not soften. They trampled the truth of the righteous. "From Christ they have betrayed the word. They turned his cross into a club. And after they put on his tunic, they slashed our bodies and our souls. They have obscured his message. They have Westernized it whilst we received it as universal liberation. Then our eyes opened up to the class struggle. There will be no more slaps. "

The Triptych - B

The Triptych - B

Pierre - Christoph Gam

I do not pretend here to state dogmas. I am neither a messiah nor a prophet. I do not hold any truth. My only ambition is a double aspiration: first, to be able, in plain language, that of evidence and clarity, to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Burkina Faso; secondly, to be able to express also, in my own way, the words of the "great people of the disinherited", those who belong to this world that has been maliciously called Third World. So to recognize our presence in the Third World is, to paraphrase José Marti, "to affirm that we feel on our cheek any blow given to any man of this world". We have stretched the other cheek so far. The slaps were redoubled. But the heart of the wicked did not soften. They trampled the truth of the righteous. "From Christ they have betrayed the word. They turned his cross into a club. And after they put on his tunic, they slashed our bodies and our souls. They have obscured his message. They have Westernized it whilst we received it as universal liberation. Then our eyes opened up to the class struggle. There will be no more slaps. "

The Triptych - B

Sankara: The Upright Man

Pierre-Christophe GAM

Gallery: Alliance Francais de Lagos (Lagos, Nigeria) About Exhibition: "SANKARA, The Upright Man” is a mix-media installation by PIERRE-CHRISTOPHE GAM, offering an apocryphal retelling of the life of one of Africa's greatest champion, Thomas Sankara. Sankara was a military captain, a humanist, an ecologist and a feminist who served as President of Burkina Faso from 1983, until his death in 1987, at the tender age of 37 years old. A visionary and a charismatic figure, he quickly became the leading African voice for the global fight against imperialism, as he launched one of the most ambitious programs for social and economic justice ever attempted on the African continent. His revolutionary programs for African self-reliance made him an icon throughout the continent but also the rest of the world. Composed of 21 pieces ( including 12 mix-media collages, 6 printed cloths, a sculpture and a video), and informed by interviews with family members and peers, the installation offers a unique exploration of Pan- Africanism as a political and a spiritual movement. Born in Paris, in 1983, Pierre-Christophe Gam, trained as an interior architect at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Decoratifs in Paris and at the Central St. Martins in London. Pierre-Christophe Gam was part of the advisory board of the acclaimed touring exhibition ‘Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design.’ His work has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, at the Vitra Design Museum and at the Lagos Photo Festival among others. In his professional career, he specialises in art direction for the fashion, luxury and lifestyle sectors. His clients have included Margiela, Publicis, Kenzo and Universal Music among others. These roles have seen him travel the world curating experiences across multiple continents. About Gallery: This programme is part of FRENCH CONNEXION 2.0, a programme organized by Institut français du Nigéria, the Embassy of France in Nigeria in collaboration with Alliance Française de Lagos and the Abuja Art Week to celebrate Digital November / #NovembreNumerique and highlight the best of French and Nigerian digital creation. This digital exhibition comes within the scope of the physical showcase that was presented at Alliance Française de Lagos / Mike Adenuga Centre at the beginning of November 2020. Link to Gallery: http://www.afnigeria.org/lagos

Alliance Francais de Lagos
Sankara: The Upright Man