The Republic of Upper Volta (Officially: The Second Republic of Upper Volta) is a landlocked country in West Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Maradikasa and Nigeria to the east, Togo, The People's Republic of Benin and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest.
The country's capital is Fada N'gourma.
The French and British convention of 14 June 1898 ended the scramble between the two colonial powers and drew the borders between the countries' colonies. On the French side, a war of conquest against local communities and political powers continued for about five years. In 1904, the largely pacified territories of the Volta basin were integrated into the Upper Senegal and Niger colony of French West Africa as part of the reorganization of the French West African colonial empire. The colony had its capital in Bamako.
French Upper Volta was established on 1 March 1919. This move was a result of French fears of the recurrence of armed uprising along with economic considerations. To bolster its administration, the colonial government separated the present territory of The Republic of Upper Volta from Upper Senegal and Niger. The colony was later dismantled on 5 September 1932, being split up between the Côte d'Ivoire, French Sudan and Niger.
The decision to split the colony was reversed during the intense anti-colonial agitation that followed the end of World War II. On 4 September 1947, the colony was revived as a part of the French Union, with its previous boundaries. On 11 December 1958, it achieved self-government and became the Republic of Upper Volta and a member of the Franco-African Community. A revision in the organization of French Overseas Territories began with the passage of the Basic Law (Loi Cadre) of 23 July 1956. This act was followed by reorganization measures approved by the French parliament early in 1957 to ensure a large degree of self-government for individual territories. Upper Volta became an autonomous republic in the French community on 11 December 1958. Full independence from France was received in 1960.
The Republic of Upper Volta (French: République de Haute-Volta) was established on 11 December 1958, as a self-governing colony within the French Community. The name Upper Volta indicated that the country is situated on the upper reaches of the Volta River. The river's three tributaries are called the Black Volta, White Volta and Red Volta, and the colors of the national flag corresponded to these parts of the river system. Before attaining autonomy it had been French Upper Volta and part of the French Union. On 5 August 1960, it attained full independence from France. The first president, Maurice Yaméogo, was the leader of the Voltaic Democratic Union (UDV). The 1960 constitution provided for election by universal suffrage of a president and a national assembly for five-year terms. Soon after coming to power, Yaméogo banned all political parties other than the UDV. The government lasted until 1966 when after much unrest—mass demonstrations and strikes by students, labor unions, and civil servants—the military intervened.
The military coup deposed Yaméogo, suspended the constitution, dissolved the National Assembly, and placed Lt. Col. Sangoulé Lamizana at the head of a government of senior army officers. The army remained in power for four years, and on 14 June 1970, the Voltans ratified a new constitution that established a four-year transition period toward complete civilian rule. Lamizana remained in power throughout the 1970s as president of military or mixed civil-military governments. After conflict over the 1970 constitution, a new constitution was written and approved in 1977, and Lamizana was reelected by open elections in 1978.
Lamizana's government faced problems with the country's traditionally powerful trade unions, and on 25 November 1980, Col. Saye Zerbo overthrew President Lamizana in a bloodless coup. Colonel Zerbo established the Military Committee of Recovery for National Progress as the supreme governmental authority, thus eradicating the 1977 constitution.
Colonel Zerbo also encountered resistance from trade unions and was overthrown two years later, on 7 November 1982, by Maj. Dr. Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo and the Council of Popular Salvation (CSP). The CSP continued to ban political parties and organizations, yet promised a transition to civilian rule and a new constitution. Factional infighting developed between moderates in the CSP and the radicals, led by Capt. Thomas Sankara, who was appointed prime minister in January 1983. The internal political struggle and Sankara's leftist rhetoric led to his arrest and subsequent efforts to bring about his release, directed by Capt. Blaise Compaoré. This release effort resulted in yet another military coup d'état on 4 August 1983. After the coup, Sankara formed the National Council for the Revolution (CNR), with himself as president. Sankara also established Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) to "mobilize the masses" and implement the CNR's revolutionary programs. The CNR, whose exact membership remained secret until the end, contained two small intellectual Marxist-Leninist groups. Sankara, Compaore, Capt. Henri Zongo, and Maj. Jean-Baptiste Lingani—all leftist military officers—dominated the regime.
However before President Sankara could form a full government the events of the 26-27th September 1983 took control of the world.
It took several days for the news of the Doomsday attacks to reach President Sankara and the CNR, their first response was to keep the events around the world from the general populace under the pretense of keeping order
However by early October 1983 news had begun to seep into the populace of the Republic, at first there seemed to be shock among the people with large numbers flocking to churches and mosques across the nation.
This however quickly changed to anger towards the government for keeping this monumental news from the people, rioting broke out in several cities on the 3rd October 1983, this was quickly and ruthlessly put down by President Sankara, the CNR and the Republic's Army. Several hundred died in the first week of October, with many more injured.
In the middle of October, in the south of the country, in the area around the city of Banfora, the rioters began to get the upper hand over the armed members of the CNR with some members of the Army defecting to join the rioters, many CNR members were killed by the Rioters who began to call themselves Revolutionaries. More sections of the south and west fell to the revolutionaries over the following two weeks. By the end of November 1983 they controlled the western third of the Republic.
News of the fall of sections of the south and west of the country were received by President Sankara with disdain and anger, he ordered the Army into the west with the orders to spare no-one, raise all villages and kill all livestock. When the army reached the city of Boromo, on the 12th of November 1983, they began carrying out their orders, but quickly sections of the army began to refuse to carry out the orders, several officers were executed for insubordination.
By the 14th November half the city was burned with over 10,000 dead, among them women and children. However by that date nearly two thirds of the attacking army had either defected to the rebels or abandoned their posts completely.
By the 20th November 1983, the revolutionaries had begun to get the upper hand over the Republic Army, mainly with thanks from the defecting army troops. By the end of November news of the victories by the revolutionaries had reached the rest of the Republic and on the 30th November an uprising began in Fada N'Gourma in the east of the country. These uprisings quickly spread due to the army fighting in the west.
By early 1984 the revolutionaries controlled more than three quarters of the country with only a small section around the capital of Ouagadougou remaining under CNR control.
On the 23rd March 1984 the revolutionaries controlled the entire country apart from the Capital city and the area directly around it. Five messengers were sent in to demand President Sankara's surrender, two return, carrying the heads of the other three messengers. The revolutionaries decide that this is an answer to the question of surrender.
On the 25th March the revolutionary troops move in to attack the capital, after six days fighting the capital falls and on the 7th April President Sankara was found dead in a small outbuilding in the centre of the city, he had been hacked to death with machetes.
The exhilaration of the revolution quickly fell away, with in fighting breaking out across the nation by mid 1984. The fighting was increased by the failure of the crops in the north and east of the country as the nuclear summer kicked in causing extreme drought in those areas. Internally, many fled the drought hit far north and east of the nation heading to the more fertile and wetter south and west
Many thousands died from starvation in those drought hit areas, there were also a large number of refugees fleeing from Mali in the north, mainly due to the drought but also due to the heavy handed suppression of opposition movements in the mid 1980's and following the coup in 1987. Refugees also arrived in the former republic from Niger in the east, as that nation collapsed into anarchy in 1985.
In early 1985, the provisional revolutionary government collapsed, with that collapse and the stoppage of pay, the army unofficially disbands. The drought continued until the first substantial rains fall in 1988. The death toll is unknown, but it assumed that it stands close to the 1 million mark, particularly in the north and east of the former republic.
The area of Upper Volta quickly descended into non-governance. Although there was a little in fighting it could not be described as a full scale civil war.
Within two years of the post-revolution collapse, individual cities and towns began take control of the farmland surrounding them in order to feed their populations. Over the next few years larger cities slowly took over smaller ones, either by force or by co-operation.
By 1990, Four main city states remained, these being:
- Banfora in the west. - Became an independent Kingdom in 1992.
- Fada N'gourma in the east.
- Tenkodogo in the south.
- Ouahigouya in the north.
In 1994 a trade agreement was signed between Fada N'gourma and Tenkodogo, this led in 1999 to their unification into one nation and retook the name The Republic of Upper Volta and called themselves The Second or New Republic as two of the three tributaries of the Volta river flows through the area.
In 2003 after over a year of discussions, the city state of Ouahigouya joined the Republic.
Also in 2003 the Republic sent emissaries to former western Niger, the former capital Niamey, although largely depopulated in the most (the population was 250,000 in 1980 and by 2003 had reduced to 78,000), had relatively high amounts of farmland and had the Niger River flowing through the area, making a good trade route up and down stream. The Republic emissaries asked the leadership of Niamey if they would like to join the Republic, after over two years of discussions the city state of Niamey joined the Republic of Upper Volta in 2006.
As of 2012 the Kingdom of Banfora has refused to join the Republic, it has the highest quality farmland within the borders of the former Republic.
Government of the Republic
The first elections of the new Republic also took place in 2003, the new government is made up of 147 members there are two parties
- Organization for Popular Democracy - Labour Movement (OPD) - with 128 members
- The Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) - with 19 members
Although both parties have the word Democracy in their name they are far from democratic, many call the nation an oligarchy or even an autocracy under President Yé.
- The OPD has its roots with the Communist groups - the Unity of Marxists-Leninists, the Marxist-Leninist Group, Communist Struggle Union and Burkinabè Communist Group.
- The CDP formed from Socialist groups - the National Convention of Progressive Patriots / Social Democratic Party (CNPP/PSD), Group of Revolutionary Democrats (GDR), Movement for Socialist Democracy (MDS), Party of Action for the Liberalism in Solidarity (PACTILS), Party for Democracy and Rally (PDR) and the Burkinabè Socialist Bloc (BSB).
The government is run by the OPD, the CDP has so few members that their votes mean little in the running of the government, there are rumours that many of the members of the CDP that are in government are in the pocket of the OPD members.
Leadership of the Republic
The leader of the OPD and the President of the Republic since 2003 is Bognessan Arsène Yé, once a member of the former President Sankara's government. Rumours persist to this day that he was closely involved in his assassination, but also that his governmental plan is the same, being strongly Marxist.
Elections are due to take place every five years, there was one due to occur in 2007, however until now no plans have been announced to have another election. This has lead to the West African Union to delare that the Republic of Upper Volta is a Communist Dictatorship in disguise.
In the past two years the leadership of the Republic have started to adopt the governmental ideologies of the The People's Republic of Benin. This form of Marxism, Beninism, has found many supporters in the government, including in both the Vice President of the Republic and the head of the armed forces.
With the election of a new President in the Peoples Republic of Benin, there has been pressure from the new Beninian President for the Republic of Upper Volta to hold new elections.
It has very close links with The Peoples Republic of Benin to its south. Due to their shared Marxist ideologies.
In 2011, The Republic of Upper Volta and The Peoples Republic of Benin became the founding members of the Confederation of Socialist West African Nations. (CSWAC)
Trade and Industry
In 2008 The Republic of Upper Volta and The Peoples Republic of Benin signed a mutual trade agreement meaning that goods traded between the two nations were not taxed.
With this agreement the Republic now has access to a sea port for the importation and exportation of Republic goods
The main industry in the Republic is agriculture, although 60% of the crops grown are for feeding the nation (such as yam, sweet potato, cassava, banana and rice) the remaining 40% are grown for trade, these include cotton, coffee, rubber, cocoa, tobacco and palm oil.
Along with food stuffs The Republic exports cotton clothing as well as a modest amount of gold. The Taparko-Boroum open pit gold mine and mill facilities, are located about 200 km northeast of Ougadougou.
The mine’s first gold pour occurred in late 2008. Initial production was expected to be about 300 kg/yr and reached about 440 kg/yr by 2010. By 2012 gold production reached 600kg/yr.
At current exchange rates - 1kg of gold is worth roughly 15,000 West African Francs. This gold makes the Republic of Upper Volta roughly 9,000,000 West African Francs per year. The major buyers of the gold are West African Union and the South American Confederation.