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Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara

In office
August 4, 1983 – August 4, 1984
Preceded by Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo
Succeeded by None (country renamed to Burkina Faso)

In office
August 4, 1984 – October 15, 1987
Preceded by None (country renamed from Upper Volta)
Succeeded by Blaise Compaoré

Born December 21, 1949(1949-12-21)
Yako, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), French West Africa
Died October 15, 1987 (aged 37)
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Nationality Burkinabé
Political party none (military)
Spouse(s) Mariam Sankara[1]
Religion Roman Catholic

Captain Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (December 21, 1949 – October 15, 1987) was the leader of Burkina Faso (formerly known as Upper Volta) from 1983 to 1987. In addition to being noted for his personal charisma and praised for promoting health and women's rights, he also antagonised many vested interests in the country.[2] He was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d'état led by Blaise Compaoré on October 15, 1987, sometimes believed to have been at the instruction of France.

Contents

Early life

Thomas Sankara was the son of Marguerite Sankara (died March 6, 2000) and Sambo Joseph Sankara (1919 – August 4, 2006), a gendarme.[3] Born into a Roman Catholic family, "Thom'Sank" was a Silmi-Mossi, an ethnic group that originated with marriage between Mossi men and women of the pastoralist Fulani people. The Silmi-Mossi are among the least advantaged in the Mossi caste system. He attended primary school in Gaoua and high school in Bobo-Dioulasso, the country's second city.

His father fought in the French army during World War II and was detained by the Nazis. Sankara's family wanted him to become a Catholic priest. According to some sources,[4] he never lost his Catholic faith despite his Marxist tendencies. Fittingly for a country with a large Muslim population, he was also familiar with the Qur'an.

Military career

After basic military training in secondary school in 1966, Sankara began his military career at the age of 19, and a year later he was sent to Madagascar for officer training at Antsirabe where he witnessed popular uprisings in 1971 and 1972. Returning to Upper Volta in 1972, in 1974 he fought in a border war between Upper Volta and Mali.

He became a popular figure in the capital of Ouagadougou. The fact that he was a decent guitarist (he played in a band named "Tout-à-Coup Jazz") and liked motorbikes may have contributed to his charisma.

In 1976 he became commander of the Commando Training Centre in . In the same year he met Blaise Compaoré in Morocco. During the presidency of Colonel Saye Zerbo a group of young officers formed a secret organisation "Communist Officers' Group" (Regroupement des officiers communistes, or ROC) the best-known members being Henri Zongo, Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani, Compaoré and Sankara.

Government posts

Sankara was appointed Secretary of State for Information in the military government in September 1981, journeying to his first cabinet meeting on a bicycle, but he resigned on April 21, 1982 in opposition to what he saw as the regime's anti-labour drift, declaring "Misfortune to those who gag the people!" ("Malheur à ceux qui baillonnent le peuple!")

After another coup (November 7, 1982) brought to power Major-Doctor Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo, Sankara became prime minister in January 1983, but he was dismissed (May 17) and placed under house arrest after a visit by the French president's son and African affairs adviser Jean-Christophe Mitterrand. Henri Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani were also placed under arrest; this caused a popular uprising.

President

A coup d'état organised by Blaise Compaoré made Sankara President on August 4, 1983,[5] at the age of 33. The coup d'état was supported by Libya which was, at the time, on the verge of war with France in Chad[6] (see History of Chad).

Sankara saw himself as a revolutionary and was inspired by the examples of Cuba and Ghana's military leader, Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings. As President, he promoted the "Democratic and Popular Revolution" (Révolution démocratique et populaire, or RDP).

The ideology of the Revolution was defined by Sankara as anti-imperialist in a speech of October 2, 1983, the Discours d'orientation politique (DOP), written by his close associate Valère Somé. His policy was oriented toward fighting corruption, promoting reforestation, averting famine, and making education and health real priorities.

Abolition of chiefs' privileges

The government suppressed many of the powers held by tribal chiefs such as their right to receive tribute payment and obligatory labour. The CDRs (Comités de Défense de la Révolution) were formed as popular mass organizations and armed. In some areas they deteriorated into gangs of armed thugs. Sankara's government also initiated a form of military conscription with the SERNAPO (Service National et Populaire). Both were a counterweight to the power of the army.

In 1984, on the first anniversary of his accession, he renamed the country Burkina Faso, meaning "the land of upright people" in Mossi and Djula, the two major languages of the country. He also gave it a new flag and wrote a new national anthem (Une Seule Nuit).

Women's rights

Sankara's government included a large number of women. Improving women's status was one of Sankara's explicit goals, an unprecedented policy priority in West Africa. His government banned female circumcision, condemned polygamy, and promoted contraception. The Burkinabé government was also the first African government to publicly recognize AIDS as a major threat to Africa.

Sankara had some original initiatives that contributed to his popularity and brought some international media attention to the Burkinabé revolution:

  • He sold most of the government fleet of Mercedes cars and made the Renault 5 (the cheapest car sold in Burkina Faso at that time) the official service car of the ministers;
  • He formed an all-women motorcycle personal guard.
  • In Ouagadougou, Sankara converted the army's provisioning store into a state-owned supermarket open to everyone (the first supermarket in the country).

Second Agacher strip war

In 1985 Burkina Faso organised a general population census. During the census some Fula camps in Mali were visited by mistake by Burkinabé census agents.[7] The Malian government claimed that the act was a violation of its sovereignty on the Agacher strip. Following efforts by Mali asking African leaders to pressure Sankara,[7] tensions erupted on Christmas Day 1985 in a war that lasted five days and killed about 100 people (most victims were civilians killed by a bomb dropped on the marketplace in Ouahigouya by a Malian MiG plane). The conflict is known as the "Christmas war" in Burkina Faso.

Assassination

On October 15, 1987 Sankara was killed with twelve other officials in a coup d'état organised by his former colleague, Compaoré. Deterioration in relations with neighbouring countries was one of the reasons given by Compaoré for his action. Prince Johnson, a former Liberian warlord allied to Charles Taylor, told Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that it was engineered by Charles Taylor.[8] After the coup and although Sankara was known to be dead, some CDRs mounted an armed resistance to the army for several days.

Sankara was quickly buried in an unmarked grave. A week prior to his death Sankara addressed people and said that "while revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas."

Quotes

"We hope and believe that the best way of limiting the usurpation of power by individuals, military or otherwise, is to put the people in charge. Between fractions, between clans, plots and coups d'etats can be perpetrated. Against the people, a durable coup d'état cannot be perpetrated. Therefore, the best way of preventing the army from confiscating power for itself and for itself alone is to make this power shared by the voltaic people from the outset. That's what we are aiming for.."


August 21, 1983 press conference.
Source: [3]

"It's really a pity that there are observers who view political events like comic strips. There has to be a Zorro, there has to be a star. No, the problem of Upper Volta is more serious than that. It was a grave mistake to have looked for a man, a star, at all costs, to the point of creating one, that is, to the point of attributing the ownership of the event to captain Sankara, who must have been the brains, etc."


August 21, 1983 press conference.
Source: [4]

"That is the hidden side of November 7 revealed. Mysteries still remain under the cover. History will perhaps be able to speak about it at greater length and to assign responsibilities more clearly."


August 21, 1983 press conference.
Source: [5]

"As for our relationship with the political class, what relations would you have liked us to weave? We explained face to face, directly with the leaders, the former leaders of the former political parties because, for us, these parties do not exist any more, they have been dissolved. And that is very clear. The relationship that we have with them is simply the relationship we have with voltaic citizens, or, if they so wish, the relationship between revolutionaries, if they wish to become revolutionaries. Beyond that, nothing remains but the relationship between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries."


August 21, 1983 press conference.
Source: [6]

"I would like to leave behind me the conviction that if we maintain a certain amount of caution and organization we deserve victory[....] You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from nonconformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future. It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. [...] We must dare to invent the future."


1985

Source: (Excerpt from interviews with Swiss Journalist Jean-Philippe Rapp, translated from Sankara: Un nouveau pouvoir africain by Jean Ziegler. Lausanne, Switzerland: Editions Pierre-Marcel Favre, 1986. Used by permission in following source:) Sankara, Thomas. Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-87. trans. Samantha Anderson. New York: Pathfinder, 1988. pp. 141-144.

"A military without political training is a potential criminal."

Notes and references

  1. ^ Defining the scope of "adequate and effective remedies" under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Sankara v. Burkina Faso 1159/2003
  2. ^ BBC NEWS | Africa | Burkina commemorates slain leader
  3. ^ [1] [2]
  4. ^ Bruno Jaffré
  5. ^ The date may have been chosen for a symbolic purpose as the 194th anniversary of the Abolition of Feudal Privileges in France, but there is no evidence.
  6. ^ Chad was at war with Libya. France was providing air support to Chad. According to some witnesses some French troops were involved in ground operations.
  7. ^ a b Bryant, Terry (2007). History's Greatest War. Global Media.
  8. ^ [ http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-08-27-us-freed-taylor-to-overthrow-doe-liberias-trc-hears US freed Taylor to overthrow Doe, Liberia's TRC hears]

Further reading

  • Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution, 1983-87, by Thomas Sankara, Pathfinder Press, 1988, ISBN 0873485270
  • We Are the Heirs of the World's Revolutions: Speeches from the Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-87, by Thomas Sankara, Pathfinder Press, 2007, ISBN 0873489896
  • Women's Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle (L'émancipation des femmes et la lutte de libération de l'Afrique), by Thomas Sankara, Pathfinder Press, 1990, ISBN 0873485858
  • Vittorio Martinelli con Sofia Massai, La voce nel deserto, Zona Editrice, 2009

External links

Preceded by
Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo
President of Upper Volta
1983–1984
Succeeded by
none (Upper Volta renamed Burkina Faso)
Preceded by
none (Upper Volta renamed Burkina Faso)
President of Burkina Faso
1984–1987
Succeeded by
Blaise Compaoré

Thomas Sankara

In office
August 4, 1983 – August 4, 1984
Preceded by Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo
Succeeded by None (country renamed to Burkina Faso)

In office
August 4, 1984 – October 15, 1987
Preceded by None (country renamed from Upper Volta)
Succeeded by Blaise Compaoré

Born December 21, 1949(1949-12-21)
Yako, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), French West Africa
Died October 15, 1987 (aged 37)
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Nationality Burkinabé
Political party The Council of Popular Salvation(military)
Spouse(s) Mariam Sankara
Religion Roman Catholic

Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (December 21, 1949 – October 15, 1987) was a Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, Pan-Africanist theorist, and communist President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987.[1][2] Viewed as a charismatic, and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as "Africa's Che Guevara."[1][3][4][5]

Sankara seized power in a 1983 popularly supported coup at the age of 33, with the goal of eliminating corruption and the dominance of the former French colonial power.[1][6] He immediately launched "the most ambitious program for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent."[6] To symbolize this new autonomy and rebirth, he even renamed the country from the French colonial Upper Volta to Burkina Faso ("Land of Upright Men").[6] His foreign policies were centered around anti-imperialism, with his government eschewing all foreign aid, pushing for odious debt reduction, nationalizing all land and mineral wealth, and averting the power and influence of the IMF and World Bank. His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritizing education with a nation-wide literacy campaign, and promoting public health by vaccinating 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow fever and measles.[7] Other components of his national agenda included planting over ten million trees to halt the growing desertification of the Sahel, doubling wheat production by redistributing land from feudal landlords to peasants, suspending rural poll taxes and domestic rents, and establishing an ambitious road and rail construction program to "tie the nation together."[6] Moreover, his commitment to women's rights led him to outlaw female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy; while appointing females to high governmental positions and encouraging them to work outside the home and stay in school even if pregnant.[6]

In order to achieve this radical transformation of society, he increasingly exerted authoritarian control over the nation, eventually banning unions and a free press, which he believed could stand in the way of his plans and be manipulated by powerful outside influences.[6] To counter his opposition in towns and workplaces around the country, he also tried corrupt officials, counter-revolutionaries (and) "lazy workers" in peoples revolutionary tribunals.[6] Additionally, as an admirer of Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution, Sankara set up Cuban-style Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR's).[1]

His revolutionary programs for African self-reliance as a defiant alternative to the neo-liberal development strategies imposed by the West, made him an icon to many of Africa's poor,[6] and despite his excesses, Sankara remained popular with most of his country's impoverished citizens. However his policies alienated and antagonised the vested interests of an array of groups, which included the small but powerful Burkinabé middle class, the tribal leaders whom he stripped of the long-held traditional right to forced labour and tribute payments, and the foreign financial interests in France and their ally the Ivory Coast.[1][8] As a result, he was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d'état led by the French-backed Blaise Compaoré on October 15, 1987. A week before his execution he declared that, "While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas."[1]

Contents

Early life

File:Burkina Faso
A map showing the major cities of Burkina Faso.

Thomas Sankara was the son of Marguerite Sankara (died March 6, 2000) and Sambo Joseph Sankara (1919 – August 4, 2006), a gendarme.[9] Born into a Roman Catholic family, "Thom'Sank" was a Silmi-Mossi, an ethnic group that originated with marriage between Mossi men and women of the pastoralist Fulani people. The Silmi-Mossi are among the least advantaged in the Mossi caste system. He attended primary school in Gaoua and high school in Bobo-Dioulasso, the country's second city.

His father fought in the French army during World War II and was detained by the Nazis. Sankara's family wanted him to become a Catholic priest. Fittingly for a country with a large Muslim population, he was also familiar with the Qur'an.

Military career

After basic military training in secondary school in 1966, Sankara began his military career at the age of 19, and a year later was sent to Madagascar for officer training at Antsirabe where he witnessed popular uprisings in 1971 and 1972 against the government of Philibert Tsiranana and first read the works of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, profoundly influencing his political views for the rest of his life.[10] Returning to Upper Volta in 1972, by 1974 he fought in a border war between Upper Volta and Mali. He earned notoriety for his heroic performance in the border war with Mali, but years later would renounce the war as "useless and unjust", a reflection of his growing political consciousness.[11] He also became a popular figure in the capital of Ouagadougou. The fact that he was a decent guitarist (he played in a band named "Tout-à-Coup Jazz") and rode a motorcycle may have contributed to his charismatic public images.

In 1976 he became commander of the Commando Training Centre in Pô. In the same year he met Blaise Compaoré in Morocco. During the presidency of Colonel Saye Zerbo a group of young officers formed a secret organisation "Communist Officers' Group" (Regroupement des officiers communistes, or ROC) the best-known members being Henri Zongo, Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani, Compaoré and Sankara.

Government posts

Sankara was appointed Secretary of State for Information in the military government in September 1981, journeying to his first cabinet meeting on a bicycle, but he resigned on April 21, 1982 in opposition to what he saw as the regime's anti-labour drift, declaring "Misfortune to those who gag the people!" ("Malheur à ceux qui baillonnent le peuple!")

After another coup (November 7, 1982) brought to power Major-Doctor Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo, Sankara became prime minister in January 1983, but he was dismissed (May 17) and placed under house arrest after a visit by the French president's son and African affairs adviser Jean-Christophe Mitterrand. Henri Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Boukary Lingani were also placed under arrest; this caused a popular uprising.

President

[[File:|thumb|right|180px|The cover for his most popular posthumously published work, a compilation of his speeches entitled Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-87.]]

Our revolution in Burkina Faso draws on the totality of man's experiences since the first breath of humanity. We wish to be the heirs of all the revolutions of the world, of all the liberation struggles of the peoples of the Third World. We draw the lessons of the American revolution. The French revolution taught us the rights of man. The great October revolution brought victory to the proletariat and made possible the realization of the Paris Commune's dreams of justice.
 
— Thomas Sankara, October 1984 [12]

A coup d'état organised by Blaise Compaoré made Sankara President on August 4, 1983,[13] at the age of 33. The coup d'état was supported by Libya which was, at the time, on the verge of war with France in Chad[14] (see History of Chad).

Sankara saw himself as a revolutionary and was inspired by the examples of Cuba's Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and Ghana's military leader Jerry Rawlings. As President, he promoted the "Democratic and Popular Revolution" (Révolution démocratique et populaire, or RDP). The ideology of the Revolution was defined by Sankara as anti-imperialist in a speech of October 2, 1983, the Discours d'orientation politique (DOP), written by his close associate Valère Somé. His policy was oriented toward fighting corruption, promoting reforestation, averting famine, and making education and health real priorities.

Abolition of chiefs' privileges

The government suppressed many of the powers held by tribal chiefs such as their right to receive tribute payment and obligatory labour. The CDRs (Comités de Défense de la Révolution) were formed as popular mass organizations and armed. Sankara's government also initiated a form of military conscription with the SERNAPO (Service National et Populaire). Both were a counterweight to the power of the army.

In 1984, on the first anniversary of his accession, he renamed the country Burkina Faso, meaning "the land of upright people" in Mossi and Djula, the two major languages of the country. He also gave it a new flag and wrote a new national anthem (Une Seule Nuit).

Women's rights and AIDS

The revolution and women’s liberation go together. We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or because of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the triumph of the revolution. Women hold up the other half of the sky.
 
— Thomas Sankara [15]

Improving women's status was one of Sankara's explicit goals, and his government included a large number of women, an unprecedented policy priority in West Africa. His government banned female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy; while appointing females to high governmental positions and encouraging them to work outside the home and stay in school even if pregnant.[6] Sankara also promoted contraception and encouraged husbands to go to market and prepare meals to experience for themselves the conditions faced by women. Furthermore, Sankara was the first African leader to appoint women to major cabinet positions and to recruit them actively for the military.[6]

Sankara's administration was also the first African government to publicly recognize the AIDS epidemic as a major threat to Africa.[16]

Second Agacher strip war

In 1985 Burkina Faso organised a general population census. During the census some Fula camps in Mali were visited by mistake by Burkinabé census agents.[17] The Malian government claimed that the act was a violation of its sovereignty on the Agacher strip. Following efforts by Mali asking African leaders to pressure Sankara,[17] tensions erupted on Christmas Day 1985 in a war that lasted five days and killed about 100 people (most victims were civilians killed by a bomb dropped on the marketplace in Ouahigouya by a Malian MiG plane). The conflict is known as the "Christmas war" in Burkina Faso.

Personal image and popularity

[[File:|thumb|right|220px|The coat of arms of Burkina Faso under Sankara from 1984-87, featuring a crossed mattock and AK-47 (an allusion to the Hammer and Sickle) with the motto "La Patrie ou la Mort, nous vaincrons" (English: "Fatherland or death, we will win").]] Accompanying his French-speaking[18] former fighter pilot charisma, Sankara had an array of original initiatives that contributed to his popularity and brought some international media attention to the Burkinabé revolution:

Solidarity

  • He sold off the government fleet of Mercedes cars and made the Renault 5 (the cheapest car sold in Burkina Faso at that time) the official service car of the ministers.
  • He reduced the salaries of all public servants, including his own, and forbade the use of government chauffeurs and 1st class airline tickets.
  • He redistributed land from the feudal landlords and gave it directly to the peasants. Wheat production rose in just three years from 1700 kg per hectare to 3800 kg per hectare, making the country food self-sufficient.[6]
  • He opposed foreign aid, saying that "he who feeds you, controls you."[6]
  • He spoke eloquently in forums like the Organization of African Unity against continued neo-colonialist penetration of Africa through Western trade and finance.[6]
  • He called for a united front of African nations to repudiate their foreign debt. He argued that the poor and exploited did not have an obligation to repay money to the rich and exploiting.[6]

"Thomas knew how to show his people that they could become dignified and proud through will power, courage, honesty and work. What remains above all of my husband is his integrity."

— Mariam Sankara, Thomas' widow [1]
  • In Ouagadougou, Sankara converted the army's provisioning store into a state-owned supermarket open to everyone (the first supermarket in the country).[1]
  • He forced civil servants to pay one month's salary to public projects.[1]
  • He refused to use the air conditioning in his office on the grounds that such luxury was not available to anyone but a handful of Burkinabes.[7]
  • As President, he lowered his salary to only $450 a month and limited his possessions to a car, four bikes, three guitars, a fridge and a broken freezer.[7]

Style

  • A motorcyclist himself, he formed an all-women motorcycle personal guard.
  • He required public servants to wear a traditional tunic, woven from Burkinabe cotton and sewn by Burkinabe craftsmen.[6]
  • He was known for jogging unaccompanied through Ouagadougou in his track suit and posing in his tailored military fatigues, with his mother-of-pearl pistol.[1]
  • When asked why he didn't want his portrait hung in public places, as was the norm for other African leaders, Sankara replied "There are seven million Thomas Sankaras."[7]
  • An accomplished guitarist, he wrote the new national anthem himself.[1]

"Africa's Che Guevara"

Che Guevara taught us we could dare to have confidence in ourselves, confidence in our abilities. He instilled in us the conviction that struggle is our only recourse. He, was a citizen of the free world that together we are in the process of building. That is why we say that Che Guevara is also African and Burkinabè.
 
— Thomas Sankara [15]
File:Pionniers de la ré
Children "pioneers" of the Revolution, donning starred beret's like Che.

Sankara, who is often referred to as "Africa's Che Guevara",[1] emulated Guevara (1928-1967) in both style and substance. Stylistically, Sankara emulated Guevara by preferring to wear a starred beret and military fatigues, living ascetically with few possessions, and keeping a minimal salary once assuming power. Both men also considered themselves allies of Fidel Castro (Sankara was visited by Castro in 1987), spoke fluent French, are well known for having rode motorcycles, and are often cited as effectively utilizing their charisma to motivate their followers. Substantively, Guevara and Sankara were both Marxist revolutionaries, who believed in armed revolution against imperialism and monopoly capitalism, denounced financial neo-colonialism before the United Nations, held up agrarian land reform and literacy campaigns as key parts of their agenda, and utilized revolutionary tribunals and CDR's against counter-revolutionaries. Both men were also murdered in their late thirties (Guevara 39 / Sankara 38) by opponents, with Sankara coincidentally giving a speech marking and honoring the 20th anniversary of Che Guevara's October 9, 1967 execution, one week before his own assassination on October 15, 1987.[19]

Assassination

"Sankara’s assassins were guided by imperialism, which could not allow a man with the ideas and actions of Sankara to lead a country on a continent so exploited for hundreds of years by international imperialism, colonialism, and neocolonial governments that do their bidding. Sankara’s political ideas will endure, like those of Patrice Lumumba of Congo and Amílcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau, also assassinated by traitors at the behest of the empire."

Ulises Estrada, a key organizer of Che Guevara's 1966-67 guerrilla mission to Bolivia [20]

On October 15, 1987 Sankara was killed by an armed gang with twelve other officials in a coup d'état organised by his former colleague, Blaise Compaoré. Deterioration in relations with neighbouring countries was one of the reasons given, with Compaore stating that Sankara jeopardised foreign relations with former colonial power France and neighbouring Ivory Coast.[1] Prince Johnson, a former Liberian warlord allied to Charles Taylor, told Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that it was engineered by Charles Taylor.[21] After the coup and although Sankara was known to be dead, some CDRs mounted an armed resistance to the army for several days.

Sankara's body was dismembered and he was quickly buried in an unmarked grave,[6] while his widow and two children fled the nation.[22] Compaoré immediately reversed the nationalizations, overturned nearly all of Sankara's policies, returned the country back under the IMF fold, and ultimately spurned most of Sankara's legacy. As of 2010, Compaoré is entering his 23rd year in power. He "has become immensely wealthy" and purchased a presidential plane to reflect his personal prestige, while landlocked Burkina Faso ranks as the third least developed country in the world.[1][6]

A week prior to his death Sankara gave what would become his own epitaph, remarking that "while revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas."[1]

Legacy

"Africa and the world are yet to recover from Sankara’s assassination. Just as we have yet to recover from the loss of Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Eduardo Mondlane, Amilcar Cabral, Steve Biko, Samora Machel, and most recently John Garang, to name only a few. While malevolent forces have not used the same methods to eliminate each of these great pan-Africanists, they have been guided by the same motive: to keep Africa in chains."

Antonio de Figueiredo, February 2008 [11]

Twenty years later, on October 15, 2007, Thomas Sankara was commemorated around the world in ceremonies that took place in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Niger, Tanzania, Burundi, France, Canada, and the USA.[7]

List of works

  • Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution, 1983-87, by Thomas Sankara, Pathfinder Press, 1988, ISBN 0-87348-527-0
  • We Are the Heirs of the World's Revolutions: Speeches from the Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-87, by Thomas Sankara, Pathfinder Press, 2007, ISBN 0-87348-989-6
  • Women's Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle, by Thomas Sankara, Pathfinder Press, 1990, ISBN 0-87348-585-8

Further reading

Books

  • Who killed Sankara?, by Alfred Cudjoe, 1988, University of California, ISBN 9964903545

Web articles

DVD

  • Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man, 2009, directed by Robin Shuffield, (52 min), CreateSpace, ASIN: B002OEBRKC [23]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Burkina Faso Salutes "Africa's Che" Thomas Sankara by Mathieu Bonkoungou, Reuters, Oct 17 2007
  2. ^ Thomas Sankara Speaks: the Burkina Faso Revolution: 1983-87, by Thomas Sankara, edited by Michel Prairie; Pathfinder, 2007, pg 11
  3. ^ Thomas Sankara, Africa's Che Guevara by Radio Netherlands Worldwide, October 15, 2007
  4. ^ Africa's Che Guevara by Andy Newman, Socialist Unity, October 23, 2007
  5. ^ Africa's Che Guevara by Sarah in Burkina Faso
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man by California Newsreel
  7. ^ a b c d e Commemorating Thomas Sankara by Farid Omar, Group for Research and Initiative for the Liberation of Africa (GRILA), November 28, 2007
  8. ^ BBC NEWS | Africa | Burkina commemorates slain leader
  9. ^ [1] [2]
  10. ^ Thomas Sankara Speaks: the Burkina Faso Revolution: 1983-87, by Thomas Sankara, edited by Michel Prairie; Pathfinder, 2007, pg 20-21
  11. ^ a b The True Visionary Thomas Sankara by Antonio de Figueiredo, February 27, 2008
  12. ^ We are Heirs of the World's Revolutions: Speeches from the Burkina Faso Revolution: 1983-87, by Thomas Sankara, Pathfinder, 2007, ISBN 0873489896
  13. ^ The date may have been chosen for a symbolic purpose as the 194th anniversary of the Abolition of Feudal Privileges in France, but there is no evidence.
  14. ^ Chad was at war with Libya. France was providing air support to Chad. According to some witnesses some French troops were involved in ground operations.
  15. ^ a b "We are Heirs of the World’s Revolutions": Lessons from Thomas Sankara by Akinyemi Adeseye, May 15, 2010
  16. ^ HIV/AIDS, illness, and African well-being, by Toyin Falola & Matthew M. Heaton, University Rochester Press, 2007, ISBN 1580462405, pg 290
  17. ^ a b Bryant, Terry (2007). History's Greatest War. Global Media.
  18. ^ Video Interview of Sankara Speaking Fluent French
  19. ^ Sankara 20 years Later: A Tribute to Integrity by Demba Moussa Dembélé, Pambazuka News, October 15, 2008
  20. ^ "We are heirs of the world’s revolutions": Lessons from Thomas Sankara by Akinyemi Adeseye, May 5, 2010
  21. ^ US freed Taylor to overthrow Doe, Liberia's TRC hears
  22. ^ Sankara v. Burkina Faso by the Canadian Council on International Law, March 2007
  23. ^ DVD Review of Thomas Sankara: The Upright Man directed by Robin Shuffield

External links

Video

Articles

Preceded by
Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo
President of Upper Volta
1983–1984
Succeeded by
none (Upper Volta renamed Burkina Faso)
Preceded by
none (Upper Volta renamed Burkina Faso)
President of Burkina Faso
1984–1987
Succeeded by
Blaise Compaoré

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (December 21, 1949October 15, 1987) was the leader of Burkina Faso (formerly known as Upper Volta) from 1983 to 1987. He was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d'état led by Blaise Compaoré on October 15, 1987, sometimes believed to have been at the instruction of France.

Contents

Quotes

  • We hope and believe that the best way of limiting the usurpation of power by individuals, military or otherwise, is to put the people in charge. Between fractions, between clans, plots and coups d'etats can be perpetrated. Against the people, a durable coup d'état cannot be perpetrated. Therefore, the best way of preventing the army from confiscating power for itself and for itself alone is to make this power shared by the voltaic people from the outset. That's what we are aiming for.
    August 21, 1983 press conference.

Source: [1]

  • It's really a pity that there are observers who view political events like comic strips. There has to be a Zorro, there has to be a star. No, the problem of Upper Volta is more serious than that. It was a grave mistake to have looked for a man, a star, at all costs, to the point of creating one, that is, to the point of attributing the ownership of the event to captain Sankara, who must have been the brains, etc.
    August 21, 1983 press conference.


Source: [2]

  • That is the hidden side of November 7 revealed. Mysteries still remain under the cover. History will perhaps be able to speak about it at greater length and to assign responsibilities more clearly."
    August 21, 1983 press conference.


Source: [3]

  • As for our relationship with the political class, what relations would you have liked us to weave? We explained face to face, directly with the leaders, the former leaders of the former political parties because, for us, these parties do not exist any more, they have been dissolved. And that is very clear. The relationship that we have with them is simply the relationship we have with voltaic citizens, or, if they so wish, the relationship between revolutionaries, if they wish to become revolutionaries. Beyond that, nothing remains but the relationship between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries.
    August 21, 1983 press conference.


Source: [4]


  • I would like to leave behind me the conviction that if we maintain a certain amount of caution and organization we deserve victory[....] You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from nonconformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future. It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. [...] We must dare to invent the future.
    1985


Source: (Excerpt from interviews with Swiss Journalist Jean-Philippe Rapp, translated from Sankara: Un nouveau pouvoir africain by Jean Ziegler. Lausanne, Switzerland: Editions Pierre-Marcel Favre, 1986. Used by permission in following source:) Sankara, Thomas. Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-87. trans. Samantha Anderson. New York: Pathfinder, 1988. pp. 141-144.

  • "A military without political training is a potential criminal." - Thomas Sankara

External links

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