André-Eugène Ilboudo

Ashoka Fellow
Burkina Faso,
Fellow Since 1994
ANPA - Association Nationale pour la Promotion Active

Citation

This profile was prepared when André-Eugène Ilboudo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
In nearly four decades of African independence, the majority of Africans have hardly begun to have real opportunities to determine their own political destinies. State and economic power has tended to be concentrated in a small elite ruling class that has failed to produce either widespread economic opportunity or to consolidate and extend the promise of democracy implicit upon independence from colonial rule. André-Eugène Ilboudo, the son of peasant farmers, is building democracy in Burkina Faso from the ground up. Highly skeptical of state power and the self-serving elites who have run and own his country, André-Eugène is creating Burkina's first nonpartisan citizens' political movement to scrutinize the government, hold it accountable and mobilize and channel citizenship self-development.
André-Eugène's National Association for Popular Participation (popularly known as Prom'Act) operates from two core ideas. "First, second, third, and fourth," as André-Eugène says, "we believe that the individual, no matter how humble, can make a difference." The second principle of the group, notes André-Eugène, is, "Everybody's problems are political, and political problems are everybody's problems." One cannot leave the field to the politicians or powerful special interests on the grounds that one might be too political. "In fact," he adds, "in a democracy, he has a duty to participate."
André-Eugène emphasizes individual citizen responsibility as a counter to the prevailing defeatism among ordinary people. He is changing the way that citizens of Burkina Faso view their government. He is convinced that democracy will only function once the people understand that the government exists to serve them, and he is building a vehicle that conveys this understanding through direct action. To promote its vision, Prom'Act started a monthly newsletter, Au Courant Alternatif, for NGOs and other citizen organizations throughout Burkina Faso. It also launched a community radio station, offers citizenship education in schools and encourages NGOs that concentrate on "material development" to broaden their outlook to include democratization issues.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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