Thomas Sankara Remembered

Thomas Sankara Remembered

By Wellington Makonese

IN our I am an African segment we look at one of the proponents of Pan Africanism Thomas Sankara whose progressive social policies transformed Upper Volter now Burkina Faso in his short tenure.

A man fixated on principles that sought to wipe elitist corruption, Thomas Sankara often called the African Che Guevara was born on the 21st of December 1949.

He rose to prominence at a tender age after receiving Military training in Madagascar at 20 and at the French Parachute academy where he was exposed to left-wing political ideologies before his return in 1972.

When the Upper Volter now Burkina Faso was rocked by labor union strikes in the 1980s, Sankara’s military achievements and charismatic leadership style made him a popular choice for political appointments but would face arrests.

He was to be appointed Prime Minister of the newly formed Council for the Salvation of the people headed by Jean Baptiste Ouedraogo which became his entry into mainstream politics to rub shoulders with the likes of Fidel Castro and Samora Machel.

Sankara’s anti-imperialist stance placed him at odds with President Ouedraogo leading to his arrest only to be saved by a group led by his friend Blaise Compaore in 1983 and toppled the incumbent.

Sankara, an ardent Marxist outrightly asserted his country’s drive towards democracy eradicating corruption with the larger goal being to liquidate imperial domination.

He was credited for reducing child mortality, increasing the literacy rate, and involvement of women in politics.

Sankara changed the name upper Volta to Burkina Faso but was later to face conflict within his ranks.

On October 15 1987 Sankara was assassinated in a coup widely believed to be led by his friend Compaore and two others.

Compaore was to be later in April 2022 found guilty of having played a part in Sankara’s murder.

Sankara’s contribution to the transformation of the Burkinabe through social policies that shifted from dependence on foreign aid and as a proponent of Pan Africanism makes him a key figure in the history of the continent.