“I would like at this moment for us to take up the other question that plagues us, the question of the debt, the question of Africa’s economic situation. As much as peace, resolving this is an important condition to our survival…Burkina Faso would like to begin by expressing its fear. The fear that as successive OAU gatherings take place, they’re all the same, but there is less and less financial participation in what we do.
…But Mr. President, are we going to continue to allow heads of state to seek individual solutions to the problem of the debt, at the risk of creating, in their own countries, social conflicts that could endanger their stability and even the building of African unity? The examples I have cited- there are many more- indicate it would be well worth it for OAU summits to give a reassuring reply to each of us on the question of the debt.
We believe analysis of the debt should begin with its roots. The roots of the debt go back to the beginning of colonialism. Those who lent us the money were those who colonized us. They were the same people who ran our states and our economies. It was the colonizers who put Africa into debt to the financiers- their brothers and cousins. This debt has nothing to with us. That’s why we cannot pay it.
The debt is another form of neocolonialism, one in which the colonialists have transformed themselves into technical assistants. Actually, it would be more accurate to say technical assassins. They’re the ones who advised us on sources of financing, on underwriters of loans. As if there were men whose loans are enough to create development in other people’s countries. These underwriters were recommended to us, suggested to us. They gave us enticing financial documents and presentations. We took on loans of fifty years, sixty years, and even longer. That is, we were led to commit our peoples for fifty years and more.
The debt in its present form is a cleverly organized reconquest of African under which our growth and development are regulated by stages and norms totally alien to us. It is a reconquest that turns each of us into a financial slave- or just plain slave- of those who had the opportunity, the craftiness, the deceitfulness to invest funds in our countries that we are obliged to repay. Some tell us to pay the debt. This is not a moral question. Paying or not paying is not a question of so-called honor at all.”
From “A United front Against the Debt” at Organization of African Unity Conference, Addis Ababa- July 29, 1987 by Honorable President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso.