Farida Nabourema

Farida Nabourema began as an activist as a teenager.  Her father had been arrested as a political opponent of the government, and following his release she joined in the protests against the dictatorship and its human rights abuses.  Togo was ruled by Gnassingbé Eyadéma for 38 years.  At his death in 2005 his son Faure Gnassingbé came to power in a bloody upheaval that cost 400 lives.

In 2011 Nabourema founded Faure Must Go.  She writes, “We promote nonviolent actions–civil disobedience, boycotts, defiance–and we believe we can weaken the government with them.”  The name of her organization has become a chant in the movement for political change and democracy.  Known for her courage in standing up to the government she has earned the nicknames “Joan of Arc,” “Iron Lady,” and “Amazon.”

Protests have been strengthening since 2017, known popularly as #Toboabout (Togo Standing).  Many people were killed by government security forces, and hundreds have been arrested.  But Nabourema is optimistic that the dictatorship will fall sooner than expected.  She sees the growing awareness of their oppression by the people in Togo.

The Togolese government has claimed to be on the side of peace.  When the 2017 protests erupted the government supported counter-demonstrations that chanted “Don’t touch my peace.”  Nabourema counters:  “The kind of peace dictators promote is simply a myth because of the structural violence of their regimes. It is those that deprive people of their fundamental human rights that are disturbing peace, not those that are requesting the respect of such rights. You cannot deprive someone of food, shelter, healthcare, education, and then arrest and torture him when he complains, and tell him you want peace. Peace starts with social justice.”  She also says, “The only compensation any activist should expect is posterity. Fight for others because others fought for you.