A special presidential security and defense system: The Wayiyans in Burkina Faso

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A flag map of Burkina Faso (image: courtesy of GDJ)

Multiple new realities have emerged in the country of the incorruptible man – Burkina Faso. This is a positive development for all who are aware of that country’s journey during the last 30 to 40 years. The country was cornered in series of military coups and other nefarious experiences like corruption, intimidation, lack of freedom of speech and much more. The most recent event that garnered national and international observers was the brilliant and short-lived revolution of Captain Thomas Sankara (1983-1987), the tragic end of that revolution and the return of the capitalist and pro-Western regime of Captain Blaise Compaoré (Sankara’s assassin and successor).

Compaoré stayed in power for over a quarter of a century until civil society drove him away and hope settled in. That experience provided the Burkinabè citizen with immense self-confidence, political consciousness and maturity from the youth to the elderly. Destabilization attempts followed, aiming to short-circuit the transition of the post-Compaoré era but these could not derail the political choice made by the Burkinabè. Presidential elections came in the wake of the transition. The term of President Roch Kaboré was marred with terrorist attacks that continued all the way to the coup led by Captain Ibrahim Traoré who, in the view of many analysts, is applying the appropriate tactics.

 This young officer, often referred to as “Sankara reincarnated”, is very popular and is cherished by the majority of the Burkinabé. Many of the policies guiding his governance are visions of Captain Sankara, his role model. Those measures are working in the country and include protection from terrorists by the army, renewal of patriotism, volunteers enrolling to fight the anti-terrorist war. The security of the current Burkinabè president is, therefore, of paramount importance. Innumerable coup attempts against him have been thwarted. Most of them plotted by the former colonial master – France, who used Burkinabè army officials and business people.

The fate of this brand of leader has always been a kind of curse for Africa and the big south in general as Western countries leave no stone unturned to take them off the scene. Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Amilcar Cabral, Samora Machel, Sylvanus Olympio are names of just a fraction of the revolutionary leaders who stood up against European and American exploitative hegemony.

The Burkinabè masses have decided to take the safety and protection of Captain Traoré into their own hands, birthing an unprecedented presidential security system, the Wayinyan. This word means “Come out!”  in Moore, the most spoken language in the country (52.5% of the population). The Wayinyans is a determined well-organized group of people who keep watch during the night, seated at strategic roundabouts in Ouagadougou the capital city, and other key locations in other cities. The offices of the national television and radio stations, the residence of the president and prime minister, the military camps are all places where this sophisticated body of seasoned patriots spend the night, in constant communication with their peers at other locations, sipping tea to remain awake and alert. It is commonly said that the Wayiyans’ motto is: “we will see which way you will pass to execute your diabolical plan, we will see who will topple Captain Traoré who is doing and  saying what the salvation of Burkina Faso requires”.

The Wayinyan are said to be an offshoot of the Burkinabè civil society, they are allegedly fed with intelligence emanating from sources as distant as the Americas; they are financially supported by wealthy local business owners as well as Burkinabè living in the diaspora. Their mission is to block the way and stop any military movement whose goal is to carry out a coup. Once movements of that type are detected, the Wayiyans call on the population to take to the streets and prevent the progress of the enemy soldiers or mercenaries; they also relay a counter offensive message to all the Wayiyans in Ouagadougou and in the country. It is known that that the role of the Wayiyans is not merely to offer support to the government in power, they remain awake and alert all night long to counter any internal or external aggression or destabilization attempt and by doing that they represent and provide an unshakable security apparatus for the whole country. A female Wayiyan once stated: “My husband enrolled as a Volunteer for the Defence of the Nation (VDP), he was one of the first volunteers and by keeping wake here, I keep a connection with him and pray that he remains safe on the battlefront against terrorists. He approved my decision and agreed that I join the Wayiyans, the special and quasi-enigmatic security machinery of the transitional government in power in Ouagadougou”.

The Wayiyans also offer financial support to the Funds for Patriotic Support (FSP). They are said to provide financial support to the government and logistics to the units for Defence and Security (FDS) and to the Volunteers for the Defence of the National Territory (VDP). This confirms the information on the solid and multipronged feature of this anti-terrorist body. The Wayiyans constitute a popular force or unit that scares imperialists and hinders their movement. The Wayiyans remain galvanized and resolute since they know the insidious means that ‘imperialists are relying upon to annihilate the resolute national vigour currently prevailing in Burkina Faso. The presence and actions of the Wayiyans epitomise one of Thomas Sankara’s statements, “ a mobilized youth becomes so strong that they dare face an atomic bomb”. This novel, efficacious, well-organized endogenous civilian and unarmed defence force that benefits from internal support as well as diasporan Burkinabè backing is certainty making history and represents a good model that could be implemented in any patriotic anti-imperialist nation. The Wayiyans need to be scrutinized deeply for the success of anti-terrorist patriotic movements.

Moussa Traoré is Associate Professor in the Department of English of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

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  1. That is a very well analysis of BURKINA FASO’S issues. I really thank you for your hard work. It has helped me to understand some important points in my country.

  2. The Wayiyans reminds me of the militias formed under Rawlings during his regime in Ghana.

    Rawlings isn’t my hero. But the militias protected his regime and so ensured it was the longest regime in Ghana.

    Yes. With the Wayiyans I see the Traore’s regime living longer and being successful.

    In the Wayiyans and the militia of Rawlings and there should be other examples existing in many countries across the world is the way forward.

    I have ever concluded any regime so loved by majority in a nation can’t ever be removed or destroyed by outside enemies as the masses themselves gives protection to these regimes. So they are not shaken.

    The saying goes united we stand, divide we fall. With unity and the Wayiyans vigilant protection I see Traore’s regime succeeding to give Africa a hope that together citizens can come together with a purpose and make it.

  3. Thank you Sir for the sum of the former till the current situation.

    Burkina Faso is going through the most tragic era in its history. From its past to the current regime, the situation is seriously degrading and continues. First we note that it is diet under the current regime there have been more deaths of military men as well as innocent civilians and populations. It is also under this regime that the greatest part of the territory is assailed by the Armed terrorist groups.. Furthermore, it is under this regime that we face the restriction of democratic and individual freedoms, kidnappings, forced enrollment, intimidation and so on.

    As for the emergence of the Wayinyans, this has its full sense of advantages and disadvantages. But the disadvantages are more visible on the ground. First, the creation of this group supposedly protector of the regime is a source of income for these people who stay in the place of the nation of Ouagadougou, Bobo and many other cities. This is the only advantage we note. Otherwise it is very complex for people without weapons or combat vehicles to proclaim themselves defenders of people who carry no more than two weapons each. Let’s return to the harms of creating these small groups of people. First of all, state funds are disbursed to serve these people simply because they say they are guarantors of power. This has created a social division into patriots and stateless people. Things that make understanding very difficult between populations and between certain ethnic groups the cruelest is the division of these same Wayinyans into different groups simply because there is no agreement on certain points of view and communication strategies. The palpable example is that of Ouahigouya where the Wayinyans saw their dissolution because a minority benefited more from the money intended for all the Wayinyans.

    We see that the transition has its strong desire to really do things well. But since a coup d’état has never had a clear program, this requires questioning the true scope of this transition… Come what may, the people have always had the last word.May peace return to Burkina Faso

    For my part, I think that we do not need these Wayinyans to protect the transition. If the transition works of course in the interest of the whole nation, there will be no revolt anywhere within the army or the population. And civil society organizations are much better placed with the proposal of clear perspectives in order to overcome all this scourge which are agitating Burkina Faso.

  4. Pay respect to the FDS,VDP and anyone working for the end of this horror in Burkina Faso in particular and Africa in general.May God allows us to perform our daily activities anywhere and anytime we want with no fear too.

  5. I personally appreciate this article.indeed it helps write and relate our history for next generation.
    God bless you sir .

    From kemi seba

  6. Thank you to write about our dear country Burkina Faso.
    Your writing is exactly what we see and live in Burkinabè country.
    To sum up , engaged to know what is happening and crossing our Burkina Faso is our great pleasure to thank you 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  7. Good afternoon Mr TRAORÉ, I hope you are doing well!
    I have got the privilege and pleasure to read your work. It’s very informative and will allow the potential readers to know about ” the wayignans”. I really appreciate it!
    Thank you so much!

  8. When did the concept wayiyans started and whose people started it and why? In the document there is no date of that event and All wayiyans do have the same aims meanning that some of that presidential security don’t have others aims which is far from the security of power.
    I Wonder if this Kind of local security Should be encouraged by the president Himself .As its a group of people who initiates this presidential security,If One Day another group Rise and wanted more transparence on the rooling of the country.
    What Can happen?
    Should We help the first One or the second ones.

  9. Very interesting to read. By reading this, I got more information about the wayinyans of my own country I didn’t know before.
    Thank thousand times Sir and remain bless.✌

  10. I personally appreciate this article.indeed “the wanyiyans” are strongly committed to contribute to the development of BF.
    You actually got the relevant information,so I love it.

    Thanks, God bless you ❤️

  11. Sum up of Burkina Faso political evolution.It is very clear explained.In the past we were misleading until the captain arriving,now we are proof to be burbinabe.Thank you sir for remaining our history.

  12. I am very amazed after going through this text. The text is very interesting and exciting because it deals with current issues that occured in our homeland. The wayiyan group has positively impacted lives in Burkina Faso.
    Writing on this group is as supporting and galvanizing people in Burkina Faso to be united behind their current authorities who are committed for the country.
    Thank you all for casting light on us one more time about the real vision of our committed group named ” the Wayiyan”

    1. Hi!
      This summary about Burkina Faso governance from Thomas SANKARA terms to Capitain Ibrahim TRAORÉ is really meaningful. And to know much more about our country people need not to do research. Just read this text and it will be good enough for you. Thank you limitless for enlightening Burkina Faso history to the World.

      My best regards!

      OUEDRAOGO Aliamdoulaye

  13. Hello, I really enjoy it. It reflects our current situation in Burkina Faso and it’s a reality.
    Thanks a lot for the great job.

    My best regards.

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