The danger for many Africans is that the erosion of our ways by the aggressive ways of others, our own values by foreign values, will destroy our sense of responsibility for solving our communities' problems.

Acceptance speech – Bernard Lédéa Ouédraogo

Members of Parliament,
Mr President of the International Jury,
Members of the Right Livelihood Award, present or absent,
Members of the SIX-S, present or absent,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very happy and moved today as I am going to receive the Alternative Nobel Prize of the year 1990.

I would like to thank you on behalf of the SIX-S Association, the Naam Groups, and the millions of men and women struggling – each according to their ability – in their peasant organisations for a better physical and human environment.

From the bottom of my heart I also want to thank all the persons and organisations who have contributed to the development of our movement by supporting it in different ways. It is also because of them that we today have the honour of receiving the Alternative Nobel Prize. I am happy to express our gratitude to the international community and to all our partners for their engagement in our struggle against poverty in the Sahel: MISEREOR in Germany, the Swiss Government, CEBEMO of the Netherlands, CAREME of the Swiss Catholics, SIDA, the Swedish Red Cross, DANIDA, DANCHURCHAID, the Danish Red Cross, as well as various other European and Canadian organisations, and the United Nations through PNUD, FAQ, UNICEF and UNEP.

I would also like to express my gratitude to the governments of the member countries of the SIX-S: Senegal, Mali, Niger, Togo, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Guinea Bissau. During all these years they have indeed promoted the development of the Association’s activities. They have shown great comprehension in regulating the political atmosphere that surrounds SIX-S and its members in the field.

The Prize I am to receive today goes also to these governments and to our partner
organisations. We are happy for always having them on our side and we are especially grateful for the consideration they have shown for our philosophy of development and for their participation in our adventure.

Indeed, our principle “developing without damaging” aims at accomplishing economical, social and cultural changes, but without rejecting African values. Our point of departure is the traditional environment and we aim at creating first an internal dynamic movement and then an external.

We also encourage the target groups to contribute with:

  • themselves as they are (that is, their own nature)
  • their knowledge and their way of living (that is, their own culture)
  • their know-how (that is, the technology they master)
  • and, finally, their ambitions (that is, their aspirations and aims in society).

This approach enables the target groups to conceive and forge their development by themselves in accordance with their own history, culture and aspirations, thus affirming and consolidating their intentions.

This is the framework within which we have been working to promote what has become today, a peasant movement covering the whole of West Africa, a movement untiringly working towards the re-creation of an eco-system suitable to our way of living. From now on SIX-s is a large family consisting of several hundred peasant organisations, with people of different ethnical and geographical background, but united in having:

  • a common goal
  • a determination to promote their own development within the framework of their respective cultures
  • a will to consolidate positive African values
  • a will to act in solidarity, friendship and brotherhood.

The origin of the SIX-S movement is a quite simple idea: that of combining development activities with an existing village structure. In fact SIX-S is an idea, plus solidarity, plus hard work.

All this emanates from the revival of the Kombi-Naam groups in Burkina Faso, a traditional alliance where people used to work together. Eventually – through reviving traditional organisational structures and combining them with development activities – the Kombi-Naam has turned into the Naam Movement in order to solve problems within the villages.

The path of the Naam Groups has been sinuous, for natural disasters have often shaken the peasants’ confidence. Lack of material and financial resources has limited their possibilities. However, these circumstances have not diminished their determination to struggle and to stay in their villages. This is also why the grass-root communicators took the initiative to create the SIX-S in order to support the development efforts of the groups, taking into consideration their respective identities.

This is the reason why SIX-S has adopted Bernard Lecomte’s formula of “flexible funding” and made “flexible funds” available to the peasant groups, authorising them to use the funds at their own discretion. The flexible funding system is neither a project, nor a cooperative. SIX-s means Se Servir de la Saison Sèche en Savane et au Sahel; in English: using the dry season in the savanna and in the Sahel, and it is a non-governmental organisation with the purpose of assisting peasants in financial
and technical matters. The organisation makes funds available to the groups in order to enable them to build grain stores, buy grain mills, improve their cattle breeding and start growing vegetables for the market. SIX-s also helps the peasants to carry out research and to create an adequate technology for various methods of irrigation, constructing carts and transport baskets for earth, burning off land for cultivation, building improved stoves, and so forth. SIX-S also encourages an exchange of ideas and experiences between the different peasant groups.

Consequently the activities of SIX-S contribute to rally people around common problems and common values recognizing the vision of the SIX-S’ founder, that is, a multicultural cross fertilization that will lead to a regrouping among Blacks and Whites, and a rapprochement between South and North.

The Prize we are to receive today is a crowning of our struggle, a recognition of our options, principles and methods of development. From now on millions of men and women are convinced that it is still possible to defeat poverty. They struggle towards this goal in spite of the numerous difficulties and the many kinds of setbacks that they encounter: difficulties and setbacks that have taught them to come to grips with poverty.

Our experience is modest. It is even fragile. But it has taught us to fight. It has convinced us that the development activities we conceive and realise by ourselves are the most effective and liberating.

The guiding principle behind the Kombi-Naam and SIX-S is to fight poverty, alienation and oppression, factors that engender violence of all kinds.

In the spirit of Alfred Nobel, Jakob von Uexkull encourages the struggle for development through a dynamic attitude, a way of being and of living in an atmosphere of justice, equality and tolerance.

Above all the Prize is a confirmation that fortifies us in our determination to succeed. The financial support that the Prize entails will be of great value in the development struggle of the peasant groups, to whom this generous gift from the RIGHT LIVELIHOOD AWARD will be delivered in its entirety.

F_d_ration Naam
B.P. 100