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U.S. National Day Address to the People of Burkina Faso
July 4, 2020

A man in a suit speaking from his desk, with flags and the U.S. seal behind him

Hello, my name is Sam Watson and I am the Charge d ’Affaires at the Embassy of the United States of America to Burkina Faso.  On behalf of the American people, I want to thank you for joining us here virtually on the 244th anniversary of the United States’ birth.

The United States was founded by people who started with an idea that government would respond to the will of its people.  This idea that personal freedom, freedom of religion, and the freedom of speech are sacred.

My country’s development continues its advancement towards our founders’ idea of “a more perfect union.”  The word “perfect” suggests that there is nothing to be improved on, but by adding the word “more,” our founders acknowledged that no system is perfect.  In striving toward a “more perfect union,” we embrace the idea that perfection is aspirational and that we can do better, no matter how far we have come.  As people around the world have witnessed over the past few months, many Americans are expressing their disillusionment with elements of our system, demanding that we and our fellow Americans work harder towards achieving the democratic ideals envisioned by our nation’s founders.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of those who were sworn to uphold due process and protect the people has led to demonstrations, protests, and dialogues across the United States about institutional injustice, the need to hold those responsible for security accountable for abuses against others, and a call to look more deeply and honestly at our social and economic challenges.

There can be no better example of American democracy than this public display.  Journalists have freely reported on these events without interference from the authorities.  While the process is far from perfect, and the outcome is uncertain, the American people uphold and embody these ideals.  These are the values we share with world through our diplomacy and public engagement.

A country’s strength lies in the cohesion of its people. I could borrow a Mooré proverb which says “nug bi yend ka wukd zom ye” or in English “you cannot use one finger to collect flour.” The message seems simple, but it is profound.

This year witnessed several tumultuous events with the onset of additional security challenges in Burkina Faso and hardships brought to us by the global pandemic COVID-19.   Each of these events brought not only difficulties, but also opportunities for the people of our two nations to deepen and reaffirm our ties.

The United States is and will remain a steadfast partner with Burkina Faso during these difficult times.  Our security assistance will continue as your forces confront the threat of violent extremism and demonstrate their commitment to holding security forces accountable for protecting human rights.

We are a true partner with you in development.  The U.S. publicly funded Millennium Challenge Corporation just approved its second compact to bring better electricity infrastructure to rural areas of your country. The total U.S. investment in this partnership will be estimated at $450 million.  Your government is a partner with us in this endeavor, and played a leadership role in structuring this investment.  Together our partnership will bring livelihood and opportunities for the Burkinabe people.

Together we will also confront the next challenges from the pandemic such as food security, public health, and providing critical assistance for the country’s internally displaced persons.  At the end of the day, our goal is to provide friendship, and support on problems that impact countless lives.

Looking at the near future, it is an election year for both of our nations.  Elections are another important expression of the people’s will to select its government.

The United States Embassy will still stand by your side, as we have throughout the decades of our enduring partnership.  May we continue to learn from each other, and work hand in hand to address our shared challenges even as we advance opportunities for all, towards a “more perfect” future.  The United States motto is E Pluribus Unum — out of many we unite as one – this is the idea that all of our citizens contribute to the American experience.  Together our combined efforts will make a stronger union. God Bless the United States of America and god bless Burkina Faso.

Thank you.