Free West Papua Campaign Cape Town, South Africa, organized an event in memoriam of Thomas Sankara, a late prominent figure of leader from Burkina Faso. The Free West Papua campaign hailed Sankara as an inspiration for the struggle of West Papua independence.
Among those who were mentioned as invited to the event in Scalabrini center are the Civil Society of Congolese Diaspora in South Africa, “African Youth Congress”, and “Africa Unite”. The information regarding the last two organizations is unavailable for international public, but Thomas Sankara and Congolese Diaspora are two important actors in African history, and hardly related to the history and politics of separatist movements in Papua.
Thomas Sankara was a Burkinabe nationalist who reformed and changed the country name of Upper Volta to Burkina Faso. He went to power and became the fifth president of the country. He was not, in analogy to Papua and West Papua, a leader of a separatist movement. On the contrary, Sankara believed in the unity and nationalism of Burkinabe people. He was in fact the first Burkinabe president who raised the issue of gender equality and nationalist economy. Sankara banned female genital mutilation and forced girls to go to school, no matter the circumstances.
It is irrelevant, and arguably unethical for The Free West Papua movement to promote their cause using the history of other nation’s blood and soil. Understandably, a group who labeled themselves as freedom fighters would need to forge alliance with legitimate nation-states, such as South Africa. However, politicizing a heroic figure and claiming that he or she would have been a supporter of their movement had they were alive, is way over the line.
The Congolese Diaspora is another story. The Civil Society of Congolese Diaspora is a collective platform of Congolese descendants who currently live in South Africa, and are concerned by the well-being of people of Congo.
In 1992, the aforementioned diaspora demanded the South Africa parliament (and government) to push a regime change in Congo, and protect its constitution from undemocratic practices. They demanded the Congolese government to respect of the constitution of the democratic Republic of Congo.
Under these notions, someone can be optimistic that the youth in Cape Town would learn the importance of unity and nationalism in establishing a nation. Someone can also learn, that the journey of Indonesia is a long one, and Indonesians are proud that Papua is a part of it.