Burkina Faso: Death threat against reggae radio host

3 May 2007
Singer and radio host Karim Sama received warning that he “will be gunned down” over commentary that is critical of the government

Karim Sama is a host of two popular reggae programmes on Radio Ouaga FM in the capital, Ouagadougou, and is also a singer known as Sams’K le Jah.

An anonymous e-mail which landed in Karim Sama’s mailbox on 18 April 2007 said:

“Just inviting you to stop your nonsense at radio Ouaga FM. You must know that you will be gunned down very soon and nothing will happen.” The message continued, in incomplete sentences:

“We have gunned down Norbert Zongo, nothing happened. You also your turn isn’t very far.” The Committee to Protect Journalists said on 26 April 2007 that authorities in Burkina Faso must fully investigate the death threat. The unsolved 1998 murder of Zongo, a prominent editor who was investigating the murder of a government driver, cast a chill over the local media. Karim Sama has been outspoken in calling for justice in the murder of Zongo, according to local sources.

Radio Ouaga FM put Karim Sama’s programmes on hiatus over fears for his security, but Karim Sama said he planned to return to work on 28 April 2007.

In an e-mail which Freemuse received from Karim Sama he wrote:

    “I know I am living in a country where the ruling system built its power on threats. So many people got killed because their sin was the fact that they refused to think the same way the ruling system wants to impose on us. In 1998 journalist Norbert Zongo got killed because he was investigating on an assassination in and by the ruling system. From then on, we claimed for justice.

As a journalist and a singer I think my role is to help enlight people so that to grow their awareness on the situation and the need to fight for more freedom, equal rights and true justice. Every time in my radio programme and during my concerts I rise my voice to these causes. That’s why today I turned to be a target. They promised to shoot me down and I know they can. It was the same way with Norbert Zongo who called for help but nobody gave hear to his calls saying that he was not serious untill he got burnt in his car on december the 13th 1998. What those threatening want is that I stop giving my opinion on the ruling system and also stop waking people to the cause of justice.

When I recieved the threats, I went to the police. My director wrote to the minister in charge of security. But till now nothing is done for my protection. Even journalists from the ruling system wrote that I made the plot myself so the to get a refugee status. I no more can sleep and I had concerts in this month that I can’t play. My radio programme stopped. Now I am somehow silenced.

I know I have to keep my head high and the hands and voices that rise to back me are of a great help. But will that be enough to protect my life?”



Karim Sama


Committee to Protect Journalists – 26 April 2007:
‘In Burkina Faso, an e-mail warns, ‘You will be gunned down’ ‘

Karim Sama’s official web site:

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